Your Content Strategy Should Not Be Real-Time


Michael Brito, Senior Vice President of Social Business Strategy at Edelman, is a Guest Contributor to the HootSuite blog, and author of “Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook for Social Media in Your Organization.” 

I won’t get into the Oscar’s real-time content marketing circus the other night. No need to play Monday morning quarterback and talk about what these brands should have done to be more effective and capture the attention of blah blah blah. That would be too easy.  I wouldn’t even call it real-time either. The Oscars have been planned for months.  And, so what if they failed? It was one, two, maybe three Tweets. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that that real time content creation or what’s being described as a newsroom for brands should not be the focal point of your content strategy.  It’s sexy, yes. Everyone is talking about it, yes. Every brand should have one, yes. We even build these for clients at Edelman.  But it’s one very small piece of the strategy, that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.

A content strategy (notice I didn’t say a content marketing strategy) enables and positions a brand to tell a very consistent story across the media landscape. It helps draw parallels between what’s important to customers and what the brand stands for. It enables marketing teams to create more relevant content based on what the brand is comfortable talking about online and what it’s not comfortable talking about. It allows employees, partners and customer service to also participate and be a part of the story too.

A content strategy requires planning – months of planning in some cases.  Before building out the social or content narrative, brands must take into consideration several key inputs before making any assumptions on what they think is relevant, like:

  • Brand positioning and voice, obviously
  • What issues are important to your brand (i.e. sustainability, politics)
  • Media perceptions of the brand.  How do they refer to the brand when they write stories?
  • Community perceptions of the brand.  How do they engage? What’s their tone?
  • Fan interests. What else is your community interested in when they aren’t taking about your brand or directly to you?
  • Historical content performance. What has worked in the past and what has completely failed?
  • Search behavior. What do people search for when they are looking for your brand’s products and services?

The output of these 7 ingredients will mold a content strategy that can scale and give birth to content that changes customer behavior – whether it’s selling more products, repositioning a company or helping customers change the way they perceive you as a brand.

A stellar content strategy will also consider a hierarchy of content and prioritize the types of content to be shared, its frequency and identify which distribution channels are most effective.  For example, tier 1 content might be marketing or campaign related and encompass 20% of the overall content strategy.  Tier 2 content might be curating 3rd party industry stories and account for 25%. Highlighting customer stories might take the lead and account for 45% of the content. Tier 3 content could be real-time and take up the remaining 10%.

Real-time content creation makes sense when the opportunity presents itself so having a newsroom with copywriters, creatives and strategists is definitely important. However, brands shouldn’t just sit around and wait for something to happen in the media and then build their story around it. They should already have a story.

Other things to consider when delivering a content strategy are the following:

  • Converged Media Models: The integration of paid, owned and earned media. Technology vendors like One Spot and InPowered can help. OneSpot basically takes owned media content (like a status update or a tweet) and turns it into a display ad.  InPowered does something similar but creates ads from earned media from highly trusted experts and influencers. And, you can certainly build your own models/triggers for converting organic Facebook posts into sponsored ones.
  • Editorial Roles & Responsibilities: Much like a media company, there are paid writers, contributors, editors, etc. The transformation into a media company will require you to think about who in the organization (and outside, like customers obviously) can fit into a specific role. Perhaps trained employees can assume the role of contributor while the marketing teams can be editors.
  • Technology: There is really no use in assigning roles and responsibilities without having technology solution that can build workflows and processes for content planning, ideation, creation, approval, distribution and optimization.  Unfortunately, not one single vendor can do it all. For planning, and ideation check out KapostCompendium and Contently.  For content creation, approval and distribution, you can take a look at those already listed plus HootSuite Enterprise (Edelman client) and for real-time optimization, I would take a look at Social Flow (Check out HootSuite’s integration with Social Flow).

If you consider all of these initiatives, it’s clear that your 2013 content marketing strategy should be to start thinking and acting more like a media company.

Image: Lee J Haywood