Clients and marketers often find themselves confused about the kind of content they should be crafting for their brands. With videos stealing the views across the internet, everyone must have toyed with the “lets-go-viral” idea.
Many businesses, however, face problems of two kinds — either they gave a shot at videos, and it backfired, or they aren’t ready to invest a large sum of money in production houses. Some, to cut the costs, focus on blogs, images, even memes.
Budget, no doubt, determines the outcome of the content but isn’t the only factor. It isn’t a waste of money — you need a well-researched, data-driven strategy that can justify the costs and measures taken to create the content.
Most importantly, content builds trust with your ideal customers and community through which they become loyal to your brand. In the age of ad-blockers, content is the best way to drive sales without traditional “hard sell” tactics. Over time, it also becomes a valuable asset to your brand.
Here’s the best way to go about is to ask the 5Ws and 1H:
Why Who When What Where How
Why am I creating content? (The Objective)
You’ve read that you need content to maintain your social media page or to start an SEO optimised blog to guide traffic to your website.
But what exactly do you want your customer to do after consuming the content? Is it to get more likes, shares (aka engagement), or get them to contact your business (aka leads), or buy your product (conversions)?
Before creating any content, map them to your sales cycle.
Once you have identified the sales stage, refine your objective by choosing from these four purposes: to entertain, to educate, to persuade and to convert.
To entertain — this is where you tug at the heartstrings of your audience with viral content, branded videos, shareable light-hearted articles, contests.
To educate — you can reach a wider audience by filling them in with “did-you-know”, and “how-to” guides use your products or services. Articles, infographics, demo videos serve the purpose.
To inspire — this requires an emotionally charged experience to change the perception of the consumer towards the product. Celebrity endorsements, events, reviews are persuasive yet subtle ways towards conversion — this could be a purchase, an enquiry, a callback request.
To convert — there’s straight-selling advertisement, and then there’s content that creates compelling intellectual arguments on why one should buy their products. Product features, case studies, interactive demos indirectly appeal that it’s more significant than your product.
Without these fundamentals, content marketing is just another form of dull marketing, grouped with the rest of failed market attempts.
Once you’ve locked this, you’ll be able to answer the following better.
Who should consume the content? (Target Audience)
Communicating with everyone is like yelling out loud to a crowd and expecting some to hear you.
Instead, focus on creating buyer personas of various age groups (beware of only chasing the millennial!) and demography, visualise how your product or service would help them. This will allow you to take a more personalised approach to your communication.
What do you want to communicate? (Content Ideas)
With customer personas at the back of your mind, empathise their pain points, chart out their interests and align them with your brand features.
Remember that with internet and smartphones, the time spent on the internet has gone down, but the frequency has shot up.
Instead of expecting them to take out time to consume your viral content, give them what they value the most.
According to Think with Google, our opportunities lie in “micro-moments”, that is, when people reflexively turn to a device to do something, discover something or buy something. Here’s our quick guide on how you can make use of these moments.
When will you publish the content? (Time and duration of your campaign)
Based on where you stand on the sales cycle (Awareness >> Consideration >> Decision Stage), you need to decide the duration of the communication. It will also help you pin a deadline and provide a realistic vision of how much contents will be required for a designated period.
For instance, a six-month awareness campaign would require multiple contents whereas a quick conversion campaign would require short, to-the-point message.
Another aspect is the context in which you craft your content. What time of the year is it? Are there any events, festivals or season that resonates with your target audience? Maintain a calendar for your brand to use them as conversation starters to forge a genuine relationship.
Where do I publish the content? (Medium of communication)
Now that you have figured your audience and their interests, where could they be best consumed?
A comprehensive blog or sharp-witted 140 characters on Twitter? Each platform commands unique social actions.
Study the pros and cons of every platform, and most importantly, how your audience interacts with each of them.
How will the content be produced? (Your workflow)
This question will test if you have planned your content ideas realistically. Is it viable to create five videos or articles in two weeks?
Always take your resources into account — whether you have enough people to execute the right content on time.
So how many types of content are out there?
Truth be told, many. There are new forms developing every day with social platforms aggressively updating their features to survive.
Most of the fall into three broad categories: written, visual and audio.
Written content is anything to do with words that can be typed and posted right away: tweets, Facebook posts, articles, blogs, poems, ebooks, white paper.
Visual content includes images, memes, videos, GIFs, infographics which dominates popular platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube.
Audio content are podcasts, radio, music, audiobooks — anything that you’d be happy to plug on your earphones for (shout out to radio listeners!)
A mix of the three, also known as multimedia, can create a better user experience, which is why you see all three forms of content on Facebook and Twitter — broadly known for fostering conversations among users.
Consumers in this age crave a visually stimulating experience as well as relevant information.
This is not to assume that every content out there should be aesthetically designed — memes are the very antithesis of that thought. A lot of it depends on the mood and tone you’re aiming for.
So create content that is easy to find and interact with, are not tone-deaf to the platform published on, and fits into their timeline of daily digital consumption. Create the content you know your audience would want to share it with their friends and family.
Never forget, for the marketer, it’s “content”, but for the consumer, every content is a story.
So every time you’re stuck with the type of content, take a deep breathe and ask yourself, “what’s the story?”. If your idea is strong enough, the chances are that the form will narrate it successfully.