In the last decade, the public relations industry has experienced an enormous amount of change. No longer do we rely on traditional media and mass outreach to carry the day. We now navigate a highly fragmented, always-on communication landscape to create real connections between businesses, brands and people.
Making and keeping those connections, however, can be a constant challenge in an ever-evolving environment. How can organizations break through in this hyper-connected world and build relationships in meaningful ways?
One highly effective strategy is content. Today, everyone with a smartphone is a designer, writer or photographer — and every brand is also a media company. American Express, for instance, is more than just a credit card. The company runs a well-known content hub for small business owners called OPEN Forum.
Content is an expectation. A smart content marketing strategy is a critical component of any brand’s engagement with customers, and it needs to be thoughtfully planned and artfully executed.
Here are five reasons why content is key to connecting with consumers and driving your business forward.
1. Consumers Are Compelling Content Creators
It’s not just brands pushing out content. Dynamic storytelling engages consumers in the process, too. Devices such as GoPros and mobile phones have allowed consumers to not only consistently access content, but also help create enticing brand narratives. Smart brands invite customers to their content playground and give them the tools and control they need to create. According to Google, more than 6,000 GoPro-tagged videos are uploaded to YouTube every day. GoPro empowers the user with its wearable cameras, then harnesses the content.
2. Influencers Will Extend Your Brand’s Reach
More and more brands are partnering with influencers on established platforms like YouTube and Instagram, and experimenting with emerging real-time platforms like Snapchat and Periscope to capture customers’ attention — and for good reason.
Engaging with best-fit influencers is an essential part of any content strategy. They’re content creators with a powerful personal brand. When their interests and styles align with a brand’s interests, their content can reach consumers in a fresh, relevant way.
3. Content Builds Relationships
Brand-customer communication has always been about building relationships. Social media has fundamentally changed how those relationships are nurtured and how content is consumed. More than ever, a two-way conversation with customers is key. That means not only equipping customers with the tools they need to speak, but also ensuring that your brand is equipped to listen and implement real changes based on that feedback.
4. Content Elevates What Your Brand Stands For
In the crowded social media world, PR is a force for high-quality, substantive and meaningful content. It starts with brands knowing why they exist and what they stand for. Brands must be able to articulate what’s at the core of their organizations and where they can engage with their audiences in ways that are both authentic and unique. Interesting content is one of the top reasons that people follow brands on social media.
5. Data Can Be a Game Changer
In just six years, the digital universe is predicted to swell from 3.2 zettabytes to 40 zettabytes. Simply put, we live in the age of big data — but it’s important to understand how to use the infinitely available statistics to your brand’s benefit. The key is to use the intersection of content and data to better understand what’s happening in real time.
Data lets you respond with the right content at the right time to be an effective part of the conversation and amplify the content that’s getting the most traction. It’s critical that your brand is comfortable with data in the content space and knows how to maximize it.
These five reasons are the fundamentals of why content matters and how it can help you create real connections between businesses, brands and people. The next step is developing the right content marketing strategy for your brand.
This is the first in a three-part series on content marketing.