The corona virus crisis has had, and will continue to have, a huge effect on businesses. There is still plenty of uncertainty and hardship to come. Now that politicians are starting to talk about tentatively restarting things, we need to start to think about how we are going to work in this changed world. Will there be a bounce back to match the significant contraction - as there was after the 1919 flu epidemic - or are we in for something rather more protracted?
Whatever comes next producers and commissioners need to take a moment to reassess our approach to the content that we share. In our latest Better Video Podcast, Nick is joined once again by content marketing strategist Chris Le'cand Harwood to discuss how communicators, marketers and recruiters can use to make this reassessment.
What does Brands as Broadcasters mean?
This is a follow on from the episode on what ‘brands being broadcasters’ means. Essentially it is a shift in the way that brands think about the content they produce. For traditional broadcasters, the content that they produce and share is their product. Now that we all have the ability to share content in the same way that they do, we should be thinking in the same way that they do – that the content that you share is another of your brand’s products and that you should be aiming to grow a long term relationship with your audience with it.
The Post Corona Content Framework: Back to first principles...
1. Begin with the End in Mind
Take a moment to consider exactly what you are trying to achieve with your project. The clearer you can be on this at the outset the more chance you have of actually achieving it. Has Corona changed this? Do you need to slightly shift focus in order to succeed. Do this work now, before anyone picks up a camera and you could save money and a fair amount of work in the long run.
2. Think audience first
Making content specifically for your target audience is so important that Nick almost called his book – ‘it’s all about the audience’ – The New Fire is admittedly a little more dynamic. It is very easy to think that you are doing this but far too many communicators produce communications that tailor to themselves, to their own needs, interests and motivations.
3. Use your business' purpose to create content that aligns with your audience needs
Once you understand exactly who your audience are and what they are motivated by, you can start to look at how your brand’s proposition intersects with that. It is always useful to consider your businesses core purpose - or 'why' - for inspiration as this can help you to create content that hangs together and serves what you are trying to achieve as a business at a deep level.
Listen to Nick and Chris discuss these points on the latest Better Video Podcast.4. Create content of real value to your audience
Provide a clear answer to your audience’s ‘What’s in it for me?’ (WIIFM) question.
Content marketing is about delivering ‘value’ to the audience. What do we actually mean by that? Marketing guru Seth Godin describes it as follows:
“...something that people would seek out, and that they would miss if it wasn’t there.”
TRUE: A simple way to think about creating content of value for your audience.
In terms of thinking about your content, a simple guide to this is that the audience are looking for something that is TRUE; that is, timely, relevant, useful or entertaining. The better you understand your audience, the more effective the content that you create for them will be.
Let’s look at what is meant by each of those terms:
Timing is key to effective content. Think about how successful Oreo was with its ‘You Can Dunk in the Dark’ tweet, when the lights went out during the 2013 Super Bowl. It was picked up by the 23 million Twitter users who were watching the game and ended up being regarded as the ad of the evening – a title that many companies had spent millions of dollars for a shot at, and failed. It goes without saying that what is timely for one viewer is annoyingly late for another – the correct advice 30 seconds after you have made a decision is annoying.
As we touched on previously, the content has to be relevant to the audience. This almost goes without saying – we all constantly filter the information that assails us every waking moment. Because of this, your audience are keenly aware of what does and doesn’t apply to them. Think about what is going to be relevant for your viewers – this might now be directly obvious. For example, if you’re trying to market an apprentice scheme to school leavers, they may be interested in advice on renting a home for the first time. This information is obviously not so interesting to those looking to move job as an experienced hire. This underlines the importance of understanding your audience and what is relevant to them.
A word of warning here, according to research by LinkedIn, 44% of their respondents said they would consider ending a relationship with a brand because of irrelevant promotions. An additional 22% said that they would ‘definitely defect’ from that brand. Knowing your audience and making content that is relevant to them is essential.
One step on from being relevant is content that is actually useful. Providing how-tos, instructions, discounts and tie-ins with other products that they may be using are all ways of being useful to your audience. Once again, what is useful to your viewers might not be immediately obvious – look at the previous example. Home-renting advice is also useful to the target audience. These different types of value do not exist in isolation – each piece of content can be a combination of one or more things.
We all need a little entertainment from time to time. If you can get it right, this is a great way of drawing in your audience and winning them over. Tread carefully with this though – you have to make sure that whatever you share ties in with your brand. You need to earn the trust of the audience before making drastic departures in tone of voice.
The content you produce doesn’t need to be all of those things at the same time – any one or two will work, as long as it/they provide enough value in that given area. The more entertaining and relevant your work content is, for example, the more the chance there is that it will be watched, shared and loved.
Different ways of skinning a cat
Google defines the different ways of engaging your audience with your content slightly differently:
- » Inspire the audience with emotional and relatable stories
- » Educate the audience with useful information
- » Entertain the audience by surprising them, making them laugh or sharing spectacular content
There is no right or wrong way of looking at these; they are just a different way of looking at the same underlying principles. I hope that seeing them from a slightly different angle will help you to understand them and use them.
5. Plan and produce in advance
Whatever you are trying to achieve, it’s important to use your resources as effectively as possible. The best way to do this is to batch as much content as possible at the outset of your project. Shooting and the creation of assets for your campaign is one of the costliest stages of the whole process so the more outputs that you can get the better. Once you have assembled this kit of parts you can share them and repurpose them as you go.
6. Start small and Iterate as you scale
Social media and the online content environment is perfect for testing and continually iterating as you see what is working with your audience. As Mike Tyson said:
“Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the face”
That’s fine – be ready to shift resources to areas of your campaign that are working well – away from those that are not. Be ready to ‘roll with the punches’ to extend the metaphor.
Whatever you do - make your content as good as possible
The quality of the creative messaging in your content is essential. It makes up 8/10ths of the impact of your campaign. This is where you should invest in doing it properly. A film is not simply a film. If all you are after is a film, then of course you can and should shoot it with your iPhone. If you are serious about using video as a tool to overcome a business challenge, then do it properly. The better the creative, the less work you will have to do to help it get traction, which will ultimately save you money.
"75% to 80% of a campaign’s effectiveness is defined by the quality of the creative messaging" - Google / YouTube
Once you can see what is resonating for your target audience you can start to amplify with targeted promotional spending. The spectre of ‘viral video’ looms large over much of the online content production world and unfortunately for the most part is just that – a spectre. Even the most effective snowballs need a strong nudge to get them rolling down the hill. The more you are able to put into targeted promotion, the more chance your message has of being seen by the right people.
Do the work to understand who your audience is and what makes them tick. Create great content that aligns with that need and then improve it as you go. You’ll be well on your way to making your post-corona content more successful than ever.
We are going to be sharing a wide range of content over the coming weeks to help you to make the most of the world that we are moving into. Take a moment to register to receive our weekly newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of it.