Beyond content marketing and strategy: What comes next?
As part of Firebrand Talent’s #digitalks event series, Deloitte Digital’s National Content Director, Debra Taylor and co-presenter, Customer Behaviour and Digital Marketing expert Chris Collacott, recently spoke to audiences on the topic ‘Beyond content marketing and strategy: What comes next?’. The key areas they focused on are detailed below.
How culture, data and AI must combine to create authentic, sustainable and scalable content
If you’re involved in content in any way, you’ll know the challenges: being consistent is hard; being consistent to a high standard is harder; and creating lasting content experiences is harder still. But creating impactful experiences through content must be where brands direct their efforts when they look beyond content marketing and strategy.
The Havas Meaningful Brands study is just one survey that demonstrates why. For the first time this year the global digital agency included content in its Meaningful Brands survey and found 60% of branded content was considered to be ‘clutter’ by consumers.
The good news — 84% of consumers expect brands to provide content. The bad news — quality is low.
How can brands begin to meet the need for content that people really want to engage with? At Firebrand Talent’s Digitalks event, my co-presenter Chris Collacott and I identified three pillars for the future of content: culture, data and machines that we believe will deliver authenticity, sustainability and scalability.
Why a content culture?
Let’s deal with culture first. Authenticity comes from purpose, and purpose has to be driven by culture. An organisation with a clear purpose and strong culture will become authentic. If your content doesn’t come from an authentic place, people will know — and tell you.
Take the Audi super bowl video: a classic example of what happens when a brand tries to take ownership of an idea they have no meaningful or authentic tie with. Audi’s TVC about a father pondering his daughter’s future in an unequal opportunities world was slick and expensive.
But what gives a high-end luxury car brand with a board of white, middle-aged men the authority to talk about female equality? Audiences made their feelings clear on social media with dislikes, thumbs down and angry Tweets.
What does good content culture look like?
An authentic content culture encourages everyone — not just marketing and comms — to understand the organisation’s true purpose and feel they have a responsibility to ensure any expression of it is true.
It doesn’t mean you switch the sales team to writing blogs (although, why not if they can?) or the mail room to shooting video (then again…), it does mean everyone collectively puts how the brand is communicating with customers front of mind.
With everyone working in concert to find and deliver great content experiences, the pressure on marketing reduces — and the standard increases.
Sustaining your content
Data should already be content’s best friend. It’s the irrefutable proof of success or failure that allows you to measure, test and learn. But we have to ask the right questions; and the right question may not always be ‘did you get some leads?’ It might that ‘getting someone to say ‘wow’ is better than a sale’, which is online shoe seller Zappos’ mantra.
In other words, having a positive, impactful high definition experience is the right answer to how Zappos will live its purpose. Shoe sales will follow. Drawing out the right data will take some new skills; ‘purple people’ who can mix technical and analytical know-how with business and communication. Think of them as the mechanics and engineers in your content culture, fuelling it with data to drive change and a continuous cycle of insights that keep your content honest.
Man, machine and content scalability
How many of us have read a ’20 Jobs that Won’t Exist in 10 Years’ listicle about Artificial Intelligence (AI) with fear in our hearts? But let’s ask the right question here — how can man and machine work together to produce impactful content experiences?
We’re already living with AI every day — conduct an online search and you’re teaching Google’s algorithm something it can repeat and copy. Automation can already create content that is easily repeatable such as sports scores, some financial information, even certain types of news stories and reports.
As Kevin Kelly says in his book, The Inevitable, that frees up people to focus on experiences that can’t be copied. In the context of content, we believe those experiences will be trust, inspiration, and embodiment – or the experience of ‘being there’. And will need that focus more and more because, as he also points out:
When everything is free…you need to offer something that makes it better than free.