The Future of Content and Creating a Content Strategy

Content marketing is one of best ways to reach your target market. This last week on the podcast we released a series on the future of content and creating a content strategy for you and your business. We’ve put together the summaries and the show audios below. Please also note that at this point the text of this post really serves as a outline to what is contained in the podcast audios, total run time is about 90 minutes.

The Future of Content – Part 1

What is the future of content? What is the future of media? Understanding content is important to market and connect with your audience today and in the future. I believe understanding content/media will enable you to successfully transition in this new era of digital media.

Today we start a multi-part series on The Future of Content. In a way we could also name this The Future of Media as the first things we tackle are information, the definition of media, and the definition of content.

Information. We create tons of information and this will speed up tremendously. The Digital Universe study from IDC sponsored by IT firm EMC Corporation predicts that the annual amount of bytes we produce will jump 44-fold over the next decade. We not only talk about this but also I give a quick aside on the information we often don’t consider as data or media.

Media. This is a big one. To really be successful in the content realm I believe we have to redefine the word media. Better yet, it is being redefined and it’s either you know it or you don’t… that’s how strongly I feel about it. I reference a great book in this section Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky. There is a great passage on page 26 that every person looking to market or advertise should take to heart.

Content. What is content? What should we consider content. In a way we can use media and content interchangeably. So is content/media…

  • A blog post?
  • a quick video?
  • a picture?
  • facebook update? Facebook Like?
  • Twitter update?
  • comment on a blog post?
  • an up or down vote on a review?

We have to rethink and redefine in our minds what we consider media and content. Now as a marketer that is important but the consumer, your customer doesn’t make this distinction.

Your customer lives in a multi-tethered asynchronous relationship with media.

Which means… they do other stuff while they watch TV. Gone are the days of sedentary watching of content. They are consuming, creating, publishing, engaging, and sharing all at the same time.

Aggregation and Curation – Part 2

In part 2 of the future of content we cover why content is not king, and two concepts–aggregation, and curation.

First, let’s start out with why is content not king.

Content is not king because it is not scarce. Media/content is made and consumed just about everywhere. From your cell phone, tablets, computers, and even cameras. The publishing revolution is upon us. That’s why we really have to rethink the definition of content.

There are only 24 hours in a day. Our waking moments are filled with consumption and creation of content. Your customer or the consumer does not make this distinction. They also don’t make the distinction from what is considered professional and amateur content. They are simply interacting with media.

Art in a museum is curated, should you curate your content? (image by cliff1066)

We also talk about the aggregation economy. What the difference is between the critical mass and credible mass. Why that is important. In the podcast I make the slight distinction between google and blekko.

We then move onto curation. We talk about why curation will be a strategy you will hear a lot about the coming years. Also why curation will happen across platforms.

Then we compare aggregation to curation. The aggegator is machine driven while the curation is more human driven.

  • Aggregation – Just brings stuff together. No relevance and often driven by machines.
  • Curation – relevance to an audience. Seen through the lens of experts. Some would say this is becoming increasingly necessary as we continue to add content to our world.

The Role of Content – Part 3

To drive sales and create leads. It might not be a direct response it could be more along the lines of awareness and retention. Awareness is often noted as the first step in any marketing plan. When we speak of retention we are speaking of retention of purchase and retention of brand/product relationship.

In a way content marketing can be seen like branding where we talk about mind share. What I believe is even more important in today’s world is time share.

But it gets deeper… you also want to enable your target audience to share and to take ownership. Take ownership of the purchase, of the experience, of owning your product. You want to enable your customer/consumer to share this. We cover this deeper in the show…

Personas, Needs, and Empathy Map – Part 4

Here we talk about planning out your content strategy. From a high level there are a few things that your content should contain. These are:

  • Useful – your content should be useful to the target audience
  • Usable – great content shows your product or service in action (even in subtle ways)
  • Quality – Great content should be of good quality but keep in mind context defines the quality.
  • Entertaining – With 255 million websites out there (as of Dec 2010) it’s important that you stand out. Entertaining your audience is one key way to do this.
  • Educational – The best content informs not just entertains.

More on these 5 pillars of content in the show so you will definitely want to listen below.

Creating content for personas is a powerful way to ensure you content speaks to your target market. (image by nicolasnova)

Moving on we cover creating personas for your target market or your target audience. This is the preferred method for myself and my company You Brand, Inc. One of the most effective ways we have found to accomplish this is using the empathy map. The empathy map is discussed in various books but also in the Business Model Generation (great book and I suggest you pick it up).

The empathy map is broken down by defining the following elements of your target persona:

  • What do they think and feel?
  • What do they see?
  • What do they say and do?
  • What do they hear?
  • What gives them pain?
  • What/How do they gain?

The reason why it’s important to do this before you even start on your content strategy is it will help you define the type and frequency of content you produce. For instance is there barriers that your target market has to overcome? Have they had a previous bad experience? Do they have an over-reliance on trade publications? How about a lack of technical know-how? All these should be answered by building out a persona and doing an exercise such as the empathy map.

This will also help you define the content needs. Do  you need to create comparative content (short or long term)? What type of information should you create? Do they need testimonials (I’ll answer yes here because everybody does). Is video or info-graphics something that your target market needs to see?

Tons more in today’s show also some good examples of content strategy in action.

Modeling for Persona and Internal Content Strategy – Part 5

For your persona you want to answer questions such as:

  • Why do I care?
  • Who will interact?
  • What formats, topics, and subjects
  • how do they want to receive, consume, and share it (important point on internal sharing)
  • When will they view, consume or engage?
  • Where do you expect them to consume the content and what has worked in other verticals.

For internal modeling of content creation you typically want to answer the same questions:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • Who participates and maintains the content?
  • What topics, subjects, and formats can we create?
  • How do we create the process and the voice?
  • When is our publishing and what is the shelf life?
  • Where do we get these ideas or content pieces?

Curation and Creating a Content Strategy – Part 6

Today we tackle curation–a topic I believe you will hear more about in the coming years.

curation-suite-logo-trans-260x42

This is the opportunity for you, curate all the content out there and make sense of it all.

In the show we talk about the curation process. It roughly breaks down as follows:

  • Content Curation Platform Curation Suite.
  • Identify and collect content (where, how, and what content are you curating)
  • Organize – do you just organize or do you contribute to the content. This podcast I tend to organize and contribute. So not only do I share with you news but I add my element to it as well.
  • Share – What platform are you going to use to share it?

We go in a little deeper with each element in the show, we also give a good example of a combined content creation model.

Creating Calls to Action in Content – Part 7

I’m starting to really like this curation tool and I will start using it to share the stories we talk about on the show.

All content should have a cal to action (image from laverrue)

Now onto creating call to action in content. When we talk about creating action I believe you have two core ways you can go. The first is the overt call to action, here you specify the action you want your audience to take. Second is the soft call to action, which can in have many forms and be implemented many different ways. We talk more about this in the show.

Before that though content should be looked at as creating both awareness and action. Which will depend on where your prospect is in the sales cycle.

Next it’s important to really understand what will cause people to share. In today’s world the share is the new spur to word of mouth. Ask yourself what would your audience like to share that would reflect well upon themselves? Then ask what would make the receiver of that message engage? These are two great and powerful questions in content creation.

The final thing is I expand on a concept I saw in a post by Paul Ford titled The Web is a Customer Service Medium. I completely agree and love his take on it. So start asking what is customer service in your industry and what could be considered membership? Great point and we go into more detail in the show.