What do we talk about when we talk about content? Is strategy a concept too heavy to deal with? Should we talk more about contexts? Well yes, if you ask me. Having been educated to create content in several languages and for several cultures, context has always been the core point of communication for me.
There is no content without form, no form without content. Soup is hard to cook without a pot; it is not very nice to eat if there is no bowl; and no one is interested in dishware for very long if there is no proper chow-content involved.
We already know very well that in addition to numbers and sums, content needs to be measured qualitatively and in the long term. We need to be customer-oriented, define the target groups accurately, and reach them through their preferred channels. This is your basic marketing knowledge that also of course relates to contents and their value, but what new is there to add to these ideas regarding a content strategy?
Marketing is dead, they say
1980s was the time of mass marketing; 1990s was all about segmented marketing; 2000 moved us on to targeted marketing, and now, since 2010, it’s all about networked marketing. The big M has developed from a communications landscape to a connections ecosystem, from manufacturing communications to cultivating conversations. Conversation, i.e. the famous dialog, creates a snowball effect of new content.
How do we explain and measure the value of content when it’s being created by networks that seem uncontrollable? Its value is in the stories that are so captivating that they spread wider than you could ever have imagined. If these viral stories involve your company or product – bingo!
Let go, big brother
Even the largest organizations are now expected to let go of their brands and kindly hand them over to be scrutinized by the public. Once again we are at the very roots of faith and trust: if a brand is strong and relates to themes interesting to human beings, it will find its fans and defenders outside the organization. The situation is controlled by participating as an equal in the dialog among the target groups. If this feels hard to do, you might want to ask your organization: Don’t we trust in our own brand?
How did I end up in brand strategy when I started to write about content strategy? A brand can be built while a reputation has to be earned, and reputation can be defined as the total of the stories told about an organisation. The most reproductive content reputation-wise are the serials that live on a life of their own. For free, no need to pay for advertising space. Emotionally charged ”sticky” conversations are the most viable ones, in good and in bad. Yet we are sailing stormy waters here because when content is being transferred from one channel to another, its context gets lost and its message may flip over to mean the opposite. In the digitalized world we just need to be prepared for this.
Many thanks to the speakers and commentators at the Sisältöstrategia 2013 (Content Strategy) seminar!