Are you communicating or just talking?
Are you prepared?
This article will look at Content, Relevancy, Empowerment and Community. What questions should your brand be asking internally to succeed externally?
Do you assess — on a regular basis — the changing posture of key stakeholder/audience segments and how they should be engaged, based on insights such as geographic, demographic or community triggers?
This is perhaps the most important element. The state of decay has never been greater for audience migration. What was a hit today may be a miss tomorrow. As Dominic Basulto writes in the Washington Post, to remain relevant a brand must Adapt, Pivot, Retry, Fail Fast.
1) The Content Problem:
Does your company have the ability to produce high-quality editorial and visual content that will engage and move the needle? Do you have infrastructure in place to maintain a dialogue and not just broadcast? Today, your audience expects long form, short form and visual content with a keystroke, or sometimes upon request. The “Me Too” expectation dictates that your content engine is running on eight cylinders.
Let's not forget that the largest audience you have at the moment is YOU. So, are you engaging employees AND empowering them as trusted and even autonomous communications outlets? Do you have alignment between employees and the C Suite, so the voice is consistent? How are sales teams and front-of-house employees prepared to ask the right questions and convey the feedback they are hearing? With that, you will need to provide topics of importance and fuel it with transparent information that will foster these valued employees to speak on behalf of the organization, with truth and value to THEIR audience.
2) Be Relevant, Save the Data
Now your customer wants to understand what value you bring beyond the widget you are selling. So, do you have proof points? How is the company’s offerings or innovations affecting the geographic, demographic or psychographics of humans? Are you sharing positive (or even negative) customer testimonials about your products and services? Also, consider how your services or even your data help build up other businesses or brands. Try not talking about "you" for a while and talk about "them." See what happens.
You will certainly need an editorial calendar of meaningful, useful, informative and unique news that convey the points above, and oh, by the way, are you using all appropriate channels to do so?
Once you have your content engine running, how are you monitoring, evaluating and then acting on what is said about your company, your content and your products? What metrics do you consider the most important for how engagement will be monitored/measured by channel and audience segment? It's more than just big data. Now it's smart data and, even better, predictive data. Here is what Tom Davenport wrote for the Harvard Business Review.
3) It Takes a Village
We hear the term, “community manager” a lot, but what do these individuals do exactly? First, this team needs to stay conversant with all aspects of the industry, the competition and business environment. They should be immersed in it, have a curiousity for it and never be satisfied that they know everything. They need to own the community, the channels the heartbeat of the target audience(s).
This team should regularly connect with external advisors, for example, tool and platform vendors, to fully understand the rapid change that simple software updates may enable or require. This team should interface with a myriad of stakeholders to ensure an accurate and objective view of the business overall. The kiss of death is to insulate your community managers to only knowing about your brand and your business and keep them from being “social.”
There will need to be seemless cooperation between customer service, communications and elements of management so as to quickly escalate and address complaints as they arise. Processes will need to be in place to mitigate the negative, bolster the positive and track the conversations. The data is important.
So, overall, do you have plans in place, support from agency or vendor, to communicate both positive and negative news and information within the organization, to social channels, to media? If the answer is no, our Digital team would be happy to help.
This is the second in a three-part series on content marketing. For the first in the series, go here.