Walking the Content Marketing Walk


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Walking the Content Marketing Walk - a practical guide to Content Marketing for marketing and communications professionals (originally published December 2012)

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Walking the Content Marketing Walk

  1. 1. Walking the content marketing walk A practical guide to content marketing, written and curated by Reading Room. This ebook is optimised for reading on screen. Save a tree and don’t print it out.
  2. 2. We’re not like the others… There are hundreds of blogs and ebooks justifying why you should be doing content marketing. This isn’t one of them. Here at Reading Room we’ve been helping our clients grapple with the much tougher question of how to deliver a successful content marketing programme. So what sort of content works for which audience and how do you go about producing it? What are the proven methods to drive engagement and is there such a thing as ‘viral’ content? To get to grips with these questions (and more besides) we put some successful content marketing professionals in a room and shared our mutual experiences and insight. This is the result.  Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 1
  3. 3. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? Creating great content Know thy audience Really basic, but before you can decide what to say you have to really get to know your audience – not just top-level stuff but right down to what they had for breakfast this morning (we’re exaggerating, but you get the idea). You’ve also got to know your medium and adapt your content accordingly. Content doesn’t go viral because it’s awesome, there’s a lot of work to get it in the right places and you need to understand the conversation hooks and the community it’s going to. Chris Quigley, Rubber Republic We decided to start using social media because people were searching for us there and they couldn’t find us. It’s worth thinking of your content in layers – a photo might hook the general public into the story, but then you can give them more detail – the statistics, the wider background so they’re more informed. Steph Gray, Helpful Technology Maria Marquez, London Business School Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 2
  4. 4. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? http://www.eloqua.com http://jess3.com The Content Grid produced by Jess 3 and Eloqua illustrates a really simple approach to thinking about content in terms of your audience and how different content types contribute to your objectives and KPIs. Walking the content marketing walk 3
  5. 5. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? Find out what works The holy grail of content marketing A fairly obvious one in theory but harder to do in practice, there are still things you can do to maximise your chances without resorting to sheer blind trial and error. To get your content to go viral you have to create a piece of content that has conversation hooks that fit in to particular communities. We score our content against different criteria, then we identify the types of communities it could be attractive to – so in this case music, dance, creativity, cars, and just general viral communities. That’s how we decide what will work. Chris Quigley, Rubber Republic You’ve got to suit your content to the medium you’re using, so for example statistics work really well on channels like Twitter. We also found regional variation around the world, so we had to adapt the channels we were using to be able to speak to the people we wanted. Chris Woods, hanover Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 4
  6. 6. Creating great content Make like a publisher Viral Ad Network seed content to over 5000 sites so when it comes to viral they know what they are talking about. Their Viral Rank scorecard is a great way to evaluate the viral potential of a creative idea. Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ So, how’d it go? http://www.viraladnetwork.net 5
  7. 7. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? Make it spreadable The holy grail of content marketing Getting your content to be shared is the holy grail of content marketing, so making your content easily shareable is a prerequisite to success. Spreadable media moves between commercial and non-commercial economies. For the producer, the content may be a commodity or a promotion; for the consumer, it is a resource or a gift…When they pass that content along to their friends, they do so because they value their friends far more than because they want to promote the economic interests of producers… Media producers need to understand the set of values and transactions which shape how their media flows in order to understand when and how it is appropriate to monetize the activities of their consumers. Henry Jenkins “Spreadable Media” The bottom line is, to make content work you have to start thinking like a publisher. Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 6
  8. 8. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? Make it spreadable Re-purposing content is a good place to start: just because you’ve got a behemoth of a report doesn’t mean you’re stuck just tweeting a link to download the whole thing. You can slice and dice it in all sorts of ways. Blogger outreach Blog post/ series of posts Audioboo file Research report Slideshare presentation of highlights Infographic Video of report’s authors discussing issues Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 7
  9. 9. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? Make it spreadable The holy grail of content marketing We took the thought leadership pieces, repurposed them, and seeded them all over the place – we made them into presentations on Slideshare, got our CEO to talk about them and then videoed him, and linked the videos and presentations to the actual report, so users could access the information easily. The effect was we went from no one reading these reports to tens of thousands of web referrals. Government consultations produce big pdf files which aren’t shareable, but if you turn it into different versions for different audiences you reach many more people: so we turned one into a ten-page plain English version, a Slideshare presentation and a 3 minute podcast version. Chris Woods, hanover Steph Gray, Helpful Technology You can take anything you have and transform it to make it shareable, but it has to be in the right format. Maria Marquez, London Business School Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 8
  10. 10. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? Make like a publisher From PR to publishing Creating successful content requires quite a change of mindset within your organisation. Traditionally marketing has been very PR-led, with the usual paraphernalia of press releases and journalists. Content marketing dispenses with that, because if your content is good it’s not really necessary. You’re producing content that’s worth reading, bypassing the journalists altogether. This sort of change is difficult to effect instantly. So start off small and advocate gently. Set up a working group of like-minded colleagues, and foster your company’s digital awareness through a few events, or a show-and-tell session at the annual conference. Win people to your cause gradually, and eventually it will gain momentum of its own. Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 9
  11. 11. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? Make like a publisher From PR to publishing A lot of companies feel they’ve got their heads round PR, but digital comes last in their considerations – maybe just thinking ‘we’ll put a press release up on our website’. But this PR-led content strategy has to change to a more content-led approach, which demands a massive re-think and that can be quite painful. Charles Bodsworth, Institute of Leadership and Management Internal buy-in can be a struggle – but manage to push one thing through and you can hold it up as an example of best practice. Then whenever the naysayers try to torpedo your initiative you can wheel it out in defence. Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 10
  12. 12. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? Don’t make life harder for yourself A framework to operate in The chances are somebody in your organisation is already using social media to publish content, or is in a better position to talk to your customers and prospects than you are. So give them a framework to operate in and let go of the idea of doing all the social media centrally. But make sure everyone understands which channel is suitable for which kind of content, and give them objectives specific to each channel. That will help keep the whole content marketing effort focused. Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 11
  13. 13. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? Don’t make life harder for yourself A framework to operate in A lot of our faculty members and staff were active on social media already, and producing research; but it wasn’t living in the marketing department, it was sitting with the faculty, it was sitting with the students – we have a very active student body who organise events which attract high profile speakers, but as the marketing department we weren’t making the most of that. So we needed to leverage what we already had, partly because it made sense to use it and partly because we don’t have a huge budget. When we were creating the framework we made sure it wasn’t just marketing – we got people from across the School to join us, for example the alumni relations team deal with social media for the alumni because they have the best relationship with them. To stop it getting fragmented we all meet up every 6 weeks or so to discuss what we’re doing. Maria Marquez, London Business School If you’ve got a large, diverse audience, consider segmenting your channels and the content you provide through them. That way you’ll only be giving people content that’s relevant to them. Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 12
  14. 14. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? Look, no hands! You don’t have to micromanage your content-makers Lots of organisations worry about guidelines for content because they have a (perfectly legitimate) fear of getting into trouble. But you don’t have to micromanage your contentmakers; in fact, the content you’ll produce will be much more genuine (and valuable) if you don’t, and if you do you’ll put people off using blogs and other content channels to talk to your audience. But equally that doesn’t mean you can take your hands off the steering wheel without risking a re-enactment of the final moments of The Italian Job. Your content-makers need guidance, but very gentle – we’re not in Stalinist-era broadcasting, after all. We launched a social media framework, which we kicked off with an internal campaign. We published guidelines for social media and created a space on the staff intranet to help us get buy-in from everyone. Maria Marquez, London Business School Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ Lewis Silkin advertises itself as a ‘rather more human law firm’, so if we’re going to be on social media we should be expressing our personality because it’s our brand, particularly because our work is all about relationship-building. Mark Grant, Lewis Silkin 13
  15. 15. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? So, how’d it go? Defining engagement Decide beforehand what you’re going to count and what you aren’t. Should you include Facebook likes, or do they require so little effort on the part of the user that they’re not a good enough barometer of success? Or should you accord a ‘like’ 1 point, but a comment 5 points? Best selling author, Brian Solis, says that businesses are working with an incomplete definition of engagement: Engagement is defined by how a brand and consumer connect and interact within their networks of relevance. Simple. But, it’s also incomplete. It’s not just about the moment or competing for attention, it’s about the aftereffect. Engagement is measured by takeaway value, sentiment or feelings, and resulting actions following the exchange… engagement is not defined through likes, comments, shares, RTs or impressions. This activity is simply a result of engagement. Brian Solis, “Engagement aint nothin but a number” Solis argues that “marketers and developers are focusing on stimulating movement, which by default becomes a game of competing for attention, moment by moment.” Instead, marketers should be looking at the longer term effects. Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 14
  16. 16. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? So, how’d it go? Defining engagement We use earned media and bought media – earned media is basically online PR, it’s approaching bloggers. It has value because it’s genuine engagement but the risk is it might not fly, so to militate against that risk we use paid media – a syndicated viral ad network. That kick-starts it and then you get the natural shares. Chris Quigley, Rubber Republic Powerful images work incredibly well on social media – this photo was seeded on the usual Department for International Development channels but also Reuters and the Guardian, so as well as half a million views on Flickr they think it’s probably been seen by about 200 million people around the world. Statistics alone don’t mobilise people, but images like this make people sit up and take notice. Steph Gray, Helpful Technology Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 15
  17. 17. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? It was THIS BIG Defining engagement Measurement of something as nebulous as the effect of content marketing can be difficult, but it’s not impossible – even if you have to rely on an approximate ROI. And even if you can’t measure it in sales terms doesn’t mean it’s not extremely valuable. We measured the effect of our content marketing by simply getting salespeople to ask their customers how they’d heard about us, and it transpired that we’d taken a six-figure revenue – just by re-working the content we already had. So that showed the business that this was a good strategy. Chris Woods, hanover Does Dubstep sell cars? I have no idea. Viral pieces are generally about the brand element, and engagement with it; they help change perceptions of a brand but I don’t think people are going to click through and ‘buy now’. But our work is never a single campaign on its own – it’s always part of something bigger. The video is an asset Peugeot can use…The value of it is not just on sales. There’s always a lot of long-tail effect, and from a strategic point of view that has a huge amount of value – but too often brands don’t capitalise on that, they abandon a great creative idea. Chris Quigley, Rubber Republic Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 16
  18. 18. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? It was THIS BIG Defining engagement By weighing conversations, interactions, and views, businesses are fed raw numbers that demonstrate KPIs but they do not offer the insights necessary to glean ROI or deep understanding of what people do and do not want, need, or value… Redefined engagement opens the door to new strategies and resulting metrics that lend to meaningful experiences and results. By designing more meaningful initiatives, businesses can now focus on causing effect, changing behavior, or reinforcing value where previous engagement metrics can now document the progress of progress. The ultimate measure however is now something more substantial, such as: Shift in sentiment Acquisition Satisfaction Conversion Brand integrity Referrals Leads Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 17
  19. 19. Creating great content Make like a publisher So, how’d it go? Thanks and good night Especial thanks to our contributors We hope you’ve found this eBook as interesting and fun to read as it was to write. Thanks to our guests at the event who provided lots of food for thought that we didn’t have space to fit in here: JoJo Brook Smith – Capio Nightingale Leah Mynett – Friends of the Elderly Gayle Suri – London Business School Amber Gilmore – Department of Health Caroline Fox – Department of Health Louise Howells – Teenage Cancer Trust Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ Chris Woods - hanover Steph Gray - Helpful Technology Charles Bodsworth - ILM Mark Grant - Lewis Silkin Maria Marquez - London Business School Chris Quigley - Rubber Republic 18
  20. 20. Here’s a little bit about us Providing consultancy, creative and technical production We’re Reading Room, an international digital communications consultancy with offices in London, Manchester, Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, and Singapore. We offer a wide range of services that we describe as digital engagement strategy and experience design. That means we take a holistic view of digital - increasingly blending websites, social media, mobile and other digital communication methods to enable clients to engage more effectively with their audiences. Our global client roster boasts dozens of not for profit and public sector organisations but we also work with some major international brands like Skoda, Pernod Ricard, Philips Healthcare, G4S, Allianz Global Assistance, London Business School and Barclays Bank. We’re also an approved digital supplier to the UK Government Procurement Service and Design Week rated us the UK’s top digital agency. Forrester rated us highly for transaction led design and we’re a Top 10 Global Agency in the Interactive Media Awards. We’d love to hear from you tel: +44 20 7173 2800 e: info@readingroom.com w: www.readingroom.com Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 19
  21. 21. Our international offices: Melbourne Office Canberra Office Brisbane Office York Butter Factory Level 1, 45 Torrens St Unit 6, 31 James Street 62-66 King Street Braddon Fortitude Valley Melbourne VIC 3000 Canberra ACT 2612 Brisbane QLD 4006 Australia Australia Australia tel: +61 2 6229 9400 tel: +61 7 3253 5700 e: info@readingroom.com.au e: info@readingroom.com.au w: www.readingroom.com.au w: www.readingroom.com.au Sydney Office Singapore Office Level 2, 54 Oxford Street 21 Tanjong Pagar Road, #04-01 Darlinghurst Singapore 088444 Sydney NSW 2010 Republic of Singapore tel: +61 3 9010 5481 e: info@readingroom.com.au w: www.readingroom.com.au Manchester Office Phoenix House 61-65 Spear Street Manchester M1 1DF Australia UK tel: +65 6603 6020 tel: +61 2 8394 6888 tel: +44 161 274 0720 e: info.manchester@readingroom.com e: info@readingroomsingapore.com.sg e: info@readingroom.com.au w: www.readingroomsingapore.com.sg w: www.readingroom.com.au w: www.readingroommanchester.com Reading Room - ‘Walking the content marketing walk’ 20
  22. 22. www.readingroom.com Words Lucy Longhurst Simon Nash Design Louis Divine © 2012 Reading Room