For the past several years many businesses have scrambled to jump on the content marketing bandwagon to differentiate as thought leaders, gain more Google "juice" in the SEO wars, and feed their emerging social channels. Today, as consumers increasingly demand entertaining and informative content whether they are online, on their iPhone, or even in Facebook, and business buyers look to influencers and communities for insight and advice, content marketing has become an essential technique for both consumer and B2B brands.Content marketing is of course--like all marketing--about good content and good stories. And there has been plenty written about the rules and approaches that work, such as the excellent early work by Chris Brogan and the ongoing stream of content (about inbound and content marketing) coming out of HubSpot.
At the same time, when we think about social media marketing, and delivering campaigns that drive participation and ideally word of mouth, the formula again starts with content (and connections).
So, content is definitely king. But what types and how much? Who will create it? How will it be served up to the right channels at the right time? And how do we blend online and offline to build good experiences--and not overload the consumer?
Building a content model
In digital and social marketing, the question of optimizing your media mix is actually a multidimensional problem. Fortunately the two-way nature of social media provides a lot of feedback loops between content creators and consumers--by monitoring and studying where discussions take place, who is contributing content, and who is collecting or commenting on it. And at a finer lever, how social gestures and activities make up the "language" of each channel.
The goal is to be able to organize content by its source, then look at formats, and finally, consider consumption and demand--all parts of content productivity. On the distribution side, we want to find the ideal rate of content production, reach and actions taken--or what we call content velocity. The outcome of this analysis is our media mix (for content marketing) that is shaped by what we are capable of producing and "shipping," and refined by how well it drives behaviors (and business objective).
A content model or framework is a helpful starting point in doing this, and can be the foundation for organizing your content assets, identifying various roles, fostering reuse, and even lowering the overall cost of new content creation.
So what does this look like? Here's my model; the first "slice" outlines the four general types/formats and their sources:
Picking the right mix
Note that while most organizations have all of these types of content, the mix for a particular content marketing campaign will vary widely. For example, when the goal is driving awareness for a product launch or growing your community, look for a mix weighted toward expert (thought leader, industry figure, celebrity) and curated content, delivered in a rich media format like video, ebooks, and podcasts, with the goal to educate, build credibility (and "wow" factor), and establish connections.
But if the goal were retention and ongoing engagement with a group of customers, we'd recommend a mix of more curated and user-generated content, delivered via more information rich and "native" channels like email newsletters and social channels, to provide updates and solicit community contributions.
And optimal mix is essential to building true two-way conversations, inspiring word of mouth referrals, and driving inbound leads.
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