How to develop and deliver your content strategy


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Creating content for the always-on lives brands now live is intrinsically different to creating advertising content. I delivered this talk at Digital Shoreditch to pull apart those differences in the processes in an effort to explain how to develop and deliver content that bridges the gap between campaigns.

The talk is a whistle stop tour of a process we've developed at AnalogFolk squeezed into 15 minutes. The media analogy to the economic concept of Stock & Flow was introduced by Robin Sloan and is one we've embraced at AnalogFolk. Thanks go out to Noah Brier for drawing attention to it in his excellent AdAge article.

Thanks go out to Matt Dyke for his oversight and the always excellent Kate Sigrist for the sexy divider charts.

"Coca Cola is no longer about creative excellence, but content excellence. Burberry is "as much a media-content company and a design company". Red Bull Media House originate feature-length films from their own film crews and music from their own studio. Facebook and Twitter no longer want media spend to sell ads, but to generate reach for content. Consumers don't want ads, they want good content.

In this talk we're going to explore how agencies can lead the content generation process from ideation to partnership to delivering and seeding content across social platforms to maintain an always-on content strategy. We will bring our strategies to life by referring to successful case studies throughout the talk.

Questions answered :
How do I create content for my clients?
How can I create low/no budget content?
How do I focus on the right platforms?
How can I deliver an always-on content calendar?
How can I improve my content-creation process from receiving the brief to delivery?"

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  • Thank you Kam I’m SP aka @tive on Twitter Over the next 15 minutes I’m going to talk about how to create and deliver your content strategy.
  • Before we start, I just want to talk a little bit about CONTENT If there are any economists in the room they may be familiar with this concept of stock and flow. Stock is static. How many apples are in your crates. How many journalists are in your news team. But flow is a rate of change . 18 apples sold each hour. 80 articles written each day. Stock is static. Flow is fluid. Noah Brier referenced a media analogy to concept of stock and flow. An advert is stock. A campaign’s elements are stock. A newsfeed is flow. A content strategy enables flow. The flow-content brands are delivering as part of an always on strategy. And this is what we are going to focus on because the process creating flow content is very different to the world of stock content.
  • These are the key differences between stock and flow and as a result the process of developing and delivering flow content is very different to the trad adv model.
  • I used to be scared of having to ‘create content’. How do you create a constant stream of videos, images, blog posts, etc… everyday? (Every single day!) It sounds terrifying. I think it terrifies community managers even more. And that’s where I was getting messed up.
  • Because content is not the format. Content is not videos, photos, pins, tweets, and updates
  • Content is THE MESSAGE
  • Or the story. The minute you think of content as the message and not the format, life gets much easier. Because content is not what you are trying to deliver , but what you are trying to say .
  • So what the message? What’s the story?
  • I’m going to talk through 7 key things we do at AF when we’ re working on creating flow content. And these will form a virtuous circle if you commit to your strategy.
  • Now this isn’t a surprise to any of you but We've undergone serious clutter inflation about 500 ads a day back in the 1970s to as many as 5,000 a day today And that doesn’t even include social media. It doesn’t include branded tweets and “it’s Friday! What are you up to this weekend?” brand page updates on Facebook So it’s no wonder you only hit 16% of your audience on Facebook. Facebook can’t risk brands spamming the hell out of their users. They have to control the flow to the newsfeed and meanwhile educate brands on how to talk to consumers like they’re normal humans beings. As a result of this 16% rule Only good content propagate and will survive through engagement. Only engaging content will reach more of your fans. And it’s so much easier to be engaging when you audience cares in what you’re saying. They need to be interested. And interest is the key word. Because…for some time now we’ve been talking about the Social Graph – who you like.
  • But the next Facebook will not be about who, but rather what you like . This is the interest graph and it will be given context by the social graph.
  • Platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, Fancy, Stamped, Oink (RIP) are the platforms to deliver the interest graph. You need to be on it. You need to position yourself in it. This is the first step You need to..
  • Identify where you can add value What does your brand care about?? Where do you sit culturally?
  • So the first step is to identify the brand passion areas. We’re not looking for the consumer insight. We need to find what your brand believes in because this is the message we are going to be communicating in between campaigns. In between consumer insights. Insights and product truths will change depending on what campaigns are trying to sell. But the brand passion remains the same.
  • Once you’ve identified your passion areas you need to truly understand the nature of the communities around them so that you know you can add value to them.
  • Use listening tools to measure size and energy of the communities around those areas This is the crucial first step
  • Once you’ve identified your passion areas, where you sit on the interest graph, you need to define the role of platforms. Instead of thinking about the best place to deliver clever messaging, where is the best place to distribute content that communities can engage with
  • This is Obama’s social ecosystem. Yes, Obama’s even on Myspace (Aren’t you?). But look at how many platforms Obama puts content out on. More platforms than the majority of brands
  • You need to develop your brand ecosystem. This is what we did for Desperados. we work with partners to produce content. the social platforms that we seed that content on to. These are the platforms we know our communities are engaged on and where we can add value with our content.
  • The next step is to buddy up. Agencies haven ’ t always been good at this. We ’ ve often thought we don ’ t like the other guys. But actually these will be your most fruitful relationships. There are two kinds of relationships. Those that help you produce content. And those that help you distribute the content. In the world of stock content you often don ’ t need the other guys. Agencies come up with the idea whilst production companies execute it. Perhaps a director or photographer will add a creative sparkle. But they can never stray from the idea.
  • To create flow content for DSP we work with Vice who help us produce the content and also find good talent. Rather than giving partners an idea to execute, give them the opportunity to execute their own idea. This is something the Red Bull Music Academy excels at. They give artists an opportunity, not a brief. And this is the key difference in the creative process. If you’re thinking “Yes but how do I actually MAKE content” you’re thinking about it wrong. The questions should be how do I enable content? In developing flow content you have to provide an opportunity. I’m not saying agencies don’t need to come up with ideas. Not at all. You do. But don’t finish writing that brief without the input of your partners and your creative talent. They are the ones that know where you can add the most value to a community.
  • The second type of relationship will help you distribute your content. Build relationships with influencers by engaging with them about their passion. These guys will help spread your content. And of course influencers aren’t mutually exclusive from creative talent. They will also give you a steer on how you can add value to their community. They can help you shape that brief.
  • Finding influencers isn’t always easy. Influencer tools are flawed, but do provide a start point to finding influencers. And of course you should use listening tools such as radian6 etc.. Because once you immerse yourself in the conversations around passion areas, you’ll see who the loudest voices in the communities are.
  • One of the best ways to create stories is to get the community involved. In the world of stock content, you ’ ll look at the community as fans or followers… as consumers of your content but in creating flow content, we consider them to be participants and collaborators. Flow content wouldn ’ t hire people to start dancing amongst commuters at Liverpool Street Station. It would invite its community to be a part of the surprise.
  • For SEAT cars we developed an online show called SEAT Sex Drive where we pitted men against women to find out which sex really are the better drivers. We set up a series of driving challenges that we filmed over a number of days at Silverstone. And of course we invited the SEAT community to take part. Over 1000 people applied, 300 got through to auditions and of course each one had their own story to share with their friends. And furthermore when the shows were distributed, they shared them with their friends too.
  • But you don’t always need to create your own content. The town of Cardigan, Wales used to make 35,000 pairs of jeans a week until production was moved to Morocco laying off 10% of its population. At the beginning of this year, David and Claire Hieatt, co-founders of Howies, started Huit Denim Co… and the town started making jeans again. Their brand is young and though their story is short they tell it well. But they also recognize it’s a story you can only tell once. It’s ‘stock’ content. And when you only employ 3 seamstresses and one engineer, you don’t really have the budget to create flow content. Though they do have live webcam. This is a problem we face on some of our smaller clients. Budget. But we’re assuming we need to create the content. Brands create a fraction of the content online. Consumers create the lion share. David and Claire recognized this and enabled their consumers to create their own content and tell their own stories with…
  • History tag. HistoryTag records the histories of specially tagged things, so you can see how they were made and how they live in the world. It ’ s very simple - if you ’ ve bought something with a HistoryTag on it then you just type the Secret Code here and see the history of that item. Then, if you want, you can add to that history via Twitter and Flickr.
  • Huit Denim have asked their product owners to post their content to but it all gets their via Twitter, Flickr and now Instagram. They’re now rolling it out for other products. This is the start of the internet of things . And enabling consumers or even product to create content will yield the biggest wave of flow content we’ve seen yet. Though that’s another conversation entirely. The point is, consumers will create content for them if you allow them to.
  • Next we need to distribute the content And the biggest myth out there about flow content, is that it will all go viral and therefore doesn ’ t need seeding spend. But of course most branded viral hits have been seeded. This is where the worlds of stock and flow content aren ’ t so far apart. They both need some help. Flow content is made for a niche community. It ’ s made for a specific position on the interest graph. And therefore you ’ re looking for it to go viral within a community. If you want your content to spread beyond that community, it will need support. Of course you do have you owned channels, particularly social channels where it’s easiest to earn media so this is almost always a first distribution destination. Also leverage media partnerships you’ve formed. These will be crucial to getting content out beyond your own channels into your passion area communities. For example on SEAT Sex Drive we worked with Channel 5, their 5 th Gear site and community to get the episodes out to car lovers.
  • And the partnerships you form with your talent might be your most fruitful. I love these Nike posters. Whilst being an example of stock content they push people to follow Nike’s talent. The poster doesn’t say follow Nike, it says follow @MarkCavendish The talent will distribute the brand message. This is actually a great example of stock and flow content working hand in hand. Nike recognizes that they need media spend to push their flow content. Of course you don’t always need media as expensive as this. But at times you will need media spend if your client expects your content to travel beyond the brand’s passion area communities. In summary you’ve got three tiers of dist: Owned channels Paid for channels And vitally the relationships you’ve built.
  • Of course once you ’ ve distributed the content you need to measure its success. Unlike stock content, flow content can be adapted throughout its life. You can find new ways of drawing attention to it that will lead in higher levels of engagement.
  • Use social monitoring tools like radian 6, Sysymos, PeopleBrowser. Did you hit your target share of voice? Did you improve your sentiment ratio? Use real-time analytics tools within social platforms and 3 rd party tools like SocialBro, or SocialBakers to discover what content worked. And what competitor content is working. Get the data. Caress it. Love it. Crunch it. And learn from it.
  • Once you ’ ve learnt, adapt. Evolve. But stay relevant. Don ’ t change your position on the interest graph. Commit to it! Maybe there is no such thing as ‘the big idea’ any more - One single thought that allows a brand to create campaigns off the back of for decades. I’m not sure I believe this. But I do know that for flow content you need to invest in your position in the interest graph and evolve it as your community evolves. Smart insights and ideas may die. But passion areas are die-hard.
  • It ’ s easy to talk about the RBMH nowadays. We recognise its brilliance. But consider its origins. It is not a campaign. It is not sponsorship pillar. It was launched 5 years ago. That makes it the same age as Twitter, give or take a few months. The flow content it produces is distributed across >900 red bull domains (not to mention social channels) and has received >300m YT views AmEx’s OpenForum is another great case study, but took four years to get 1 million people aboard, and now gets about 150,000 unique visitors per month. Not high volume for a big site, but high volume for a site that focuses solely on helping small businesses. There are no great short-term case studies. When it comes to a content strategy you need to find your position on the interest graph, and commit to it, evolving along the way.  
  • To summarise the process: Identify your brand passion areas and the communities around those where you can add value . Use tools to listen to communities and gauge their size and find your position on the interest graph . Define the role of platforms. Where do your communities best engage and where can you deliver value-adding content? Buddy Up. This is where the content creation process happens. Find influencers and build relationships with partners who will help you produce your content. Invite participation from your communities. They will help make your contentmore engaging. But also empower your consumers to tell their own stories like HistoryTag does. Distribute your content. Used owned and paid channels but really focus on getting your talent and partners to spread your content too. Measure your success. What worked? Did you hit your targets? Learn from the data. Evolve . Once you ’ ve learnt, adapt. Evolve. But stay relevant.. Don ’ t change your position on the interest graph. Commit to it!
  • Thank you.
  • How to develop and deliver your content strategy

    1. 1. vHow to create and deliver your content strategy @ tive
    2. 2. Stock & FlowImages from flickr @harrymarmot & @mehughes
    3. 3. Stock Consumer insight / Product truth v Flow Internal culture Clever messaging Engaging content Campaigns Always on Holding a mirror up Adding real value Art directors & copy writers Collaborators Consumers Participants Create a transactional relationship Create a communityImages from flickr @harrymarmot & @mehughes
    4. 4. Before we start… 2.0 CONTENT = FORMAT
    5. 5. Before we start… 2.0 CONTENT ≠ FORMAT
    6. 6. Before we start… 2.0 CONTENT = MESSAGE
    7. 7. Before we start… 2.0 CONTENT = STORY* *not always your story
    8. 8. So what’s your message?
    9. 9. "Weve gone from beingexposed to about 500 adsa day back in the 1970s toas many as 5,000 a daytoday.” Jay Walker-Smith, Yankelovich Consumer Research 2009
    10. 10. The next Facebook will not be about who, but rather what you like.
    11. 11. The next Facebook will not be about who, but rather what you like. R.I.P. #interestgraph
    12. 12. Identify brand passion areas Passion Passion A B Passion C
    13. 13. Understand the nature of communities Passion Passion A B Passion C
    14. 14. Measure size & energy of communities
    15. 15. The brand ecosystem User sharing platforms + AGE GATE Website content Social platforms Local content producers Ambassador Agency Fans Global content producers
    16. 16. Partners Creative Talent
    17. 17. Build relationships with influencers Passion Passion A B Passion C
    18. 18. Influencer tools are flawed, but provide a start point
    19. 19. Image from
    20. 20. “If you’ve boughtsomething with aHistoryTag on it then youjust type the Secret Codehere and see the history ofthat item. Then, if youwant, you can add tothat history viaTwitter and Flickr.”
    21. 21. Image from
    22. 22. In summary
    23. 23. @ tive