By Susan Cramer, Senior Content Strategist
Humor us for a second: When's the last time you discovered a brand at the shelf? Now, when's the last time you discovered a brand on your social media feed?
Brands are now meeting us where we are—the platforms we look at every day. We’re constantly being fed hundreds of new content pieces—opening our eyes to brands we wouldn’t normally see on a shelf. But, this isn’t anything new. Experts have proclaimed, “content is king” for nearly 10 years. And here’s why.
Content is all around you. It's on your Instagram feed, it lands in your inbox, and sometimes you even seek it out yourself. As a consumer, content provides you with some kind of value. Be it new fodder for conversation with friends, a tip for how to fix your frozen pipes or inspiration for designing your new kitchen. Because we’re surrounded by great content, brands can't expect consumers to try them out at the shelf.
Here’s how to create effective and valuable content that engages your target audience:
Know your audience. Know them really well.
It’s no secret that you should tailor your message to the audience you're speaking to. For ages, advertisers have been getting inside our heads to sell us products that we (usually) don't even need. However, content should offer value—not a sales pitch. This means you have to know your audience well enough to know what they see as related topics to your product or service. Learn how they speak about your brand. They likely use different language and nomenclature than you do. Take notes on this. Speak as they do, but with an element of finesse that shows you’re the expert—but also their friend.
Be honest about your brand and what you provide to customers.
You've likely gone through many in-depth conversations, a few workshops, and some presentations to get to your brand pillars. For good reason—that stuff matters. Everything we do and say as brands stems should stem from these pillars. Make great use of them in your content. When your product offering lines up with audience needs, you can provide value to them even when they’re not using your product.
The three H's.
Hero- Hero content is content created to inspire your broader audience, this also gives you the chance to draw in some newbies. Take big chances here, share big, bold messages that put a stake in the ground.
Hub- This is the content you use to engage with consumers regularly. AKA your "push" content.
Hygiene- This is content that helps a friend out. You're right there, in every search results page, waving excitedly at your core target because you can solve the problem at hand. This is your "pull" content that brings people into your brand when they need it most.
Be nimble and willing to iterate.
Iteration is a normal topic and practice in product development. We tweak a product or formula until we get the desired result. The same goes for your content and content strategy. These documents should live and breathe. Consumers change, markets change, and we have to stay on top of new research and information to stay relevant.
Track, tweak, repeat.
When creating content, you’ll have some wins, but you’ll also produce some flops. The important thing to remember is that you get great learnings from both. Content should inspire consumers to take action—be it to share, save or use immediately—and that action should be tracked the same as we track media and sales. Is your content reaching your goals? Setting KPIs is key. Once the results are in, be sure to use that data to iterate and optimize your content offerings.
The best part about content creation? There's no wrong way to get started. Once your strategy is in place, put pen to paper. You'll only get better by doing, measuring, and applying your learnings.