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Hungering for a Content Strategy: Why Content Is the Ultimate Strategy

 

There’s a debate going on regarding social media marketing all because of this little book written by Suzanne Collins. To simplify the debate I’ll ask this question: Does social media help drive consumption of content or does good content drive social media engagement? It’s social media’s question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Let’s take that little book “The Hunger Games” as a primary example of content being your marketing strategy.

Many are discussing how the film’s social media marketing plan drove box office success. But I am not a believer that social media marketing alone helped drive success for the film. In fact, I think it was the content strategy. In this case, it was the creation of some wonderful social media content that helped drive word of mouth more than simply the all too familiar promotional messaging built around trailers and games.

At most agencies, it would be taboo to say that social marketing strategy is becoming irrelevant. But in order for one to stay relevant, one must do as David Ogilvy said, “If you want to be interesting, be interested.” Thus, if you want a good social media marketing plan, don’t simply be interested in building a social strategy, but be interested in building the content that will ultimately become your strategy. Here’s five reasons why content is more important than a large and costly social marketing campaign that most agencies limit to simply Facebook and Twitter using 20th century techniques. The new marketing is all about the content you create, when you release it to your audience and where you release it. Agree with anything on this list Retweet it. Disagree? Tell us why…

1.  Create content based on the channel the audience will engage with it in and not simply the audience en masse. If you think about your audience as one large mass instead of a niche microscope to interact with, you’re missing the whole point of social media. Social media is not a loudspeaker. Those who use it in such a fashion will ultimately be ignored. Social media is a microscope. It allows you to truly interact in a granular fashion with people who want to engage with your brand. Good content in social now takes into consideration the platform and not simply the format. Videos, photos and games are preferred but people consume and share videos differently when they are discovered on Facebook compared to Twitter compared to YouTube compared to Tumblr compared to LinkedIn, etc. Personas on these platforms and how people share content is an important factor as much as simply editing content into a two-minute social shareable video. The later strategy alone no longer works.

2. Use data. We no longer live in a world where an estimate on what an audience wants is enough. Plus being nimble will allow you to create content quickly that can be delivered to your audience in a manner in which they know you are listening to them. Remember social is a two-way communication. If you fail to listen and respond accordingly in the real world, who will ever want to speak with you or like what you have to say? People don’t like pushy people who are one-directional nor do they like brands that push promotional things on them without opening the conversation to include their feedback.

3. Invest in being social. Too many brands think they are social. Then they say something like this, “but we want to control the message!” Guess what, you’re not social then. You’re only playing social in your own mind. The Hunger Games content strategy succeeded because they wanted to ultimately connect with fans. They actively pursued conversation and interactions with their fans because they saw the opportunity in not simply getting fans or page views, but to build evangelists and champions. They produced content that would create this desired outcome.

4. Transmedia storytelling is now a must. You can’t simply think like the following: We will do advertising for TV and radio. We will also do a social campaign. We will also do PR. If your brand is thinking this way you’re not playing into how consumer behavior interacts with media in this day and age. Nothing siloed works anymore. Yet traditional CMOs have been slow to catch onto this phenomenon. In addition, most content that was created for The Hunger Games did not look like marketing. This is important whether you’re a B2B or a B2C brand. Note that ultimately messaging that sticks is B2P and doesn’t look like marketing. Ultimately that is why people talk about it. They don’t want to be sold a product. They want an outside/in conversation. For a tech company, that means talking about how innovation will change business in the future. Not talking about how your brand has the solution. For a soda brand it’s talking about what teen band is all the rage right now. Not talking about your fruity flavor. For a fashion brand, it’s showing your goods and other inspirations in holographic video. Not doing New York fashion week’s main tent. Brands must be better about talking and showcasing that they are thought leaders with higher level agendas and not simply like every other brand. Self-absorbed and conceited brands don’t fly on people’s radars in an open web world.

5. Launch and leave is a thing of the past. Many companies according to web specialist Gerry McGovern, still employ a strategy in which a brand produces an abundance of content, then launches a new campaign or product and leaves that content sitting on their website or social properties unmeasured and unmaintained. Brands should now be responsible in demanding more from content. This is what The Hunger Games did when producing their content. They used tools and incentive to create and maintain usable content over time. In fact, the content on the social properties is still relevant now even after the film launch and will be when the Blu-Ray and On Demand formats are released. Companies now have more tools and incentive to create and maintain usable content. Content should ultimately drive conversion. Conversion comes via engagement. Engagement comes from good content. The circle, like a game, is complete.

Geoffrey Colon is Vice President of Social@Ogilvy and editor of the Futurist Lab on Tumblr. He also tweets @djgeoffe