Tips & Examples of Effective Content Marketing from Hootsuite

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This post is an excerpt from the Examples of Effective Content Marketing breakout session at the Authentic Marketing Conference in Los Angeles led by Lauren Sudworth, Senior Content Strategy Manager at Hootsuite. The conference was a rich environment for brands and influencers to openly discuss tactics for authentically building a strong following. All of the content from the Authentic Marketing Conference is available as a Digital Marketing Bootcamp.

Here are the key-takeaways from the Examples of Effective Content Marketing breakout session:

  1. Get the basics right
  2. Give old formats a fresh coat of paint
  3. Just because it’s advertising doesn’t mean it’s not content too
  4. Sponsored content can do wonders for your brand
  5. Sometimes you need to put your product away and focus on other needs
  6. Only your customers can tell you if your content is really effective

Defining content

We need a definition of content before we can define effective content because in an organization or in a brand there are a lot of departments creating or commissioning content and not everyone follows the same process. Sometimes people see content as the words on the page and sometimes people see content as visual content or video content. We are often working towards different or conflicting goals and sometimes what we’re asked for is not right for the brand or our customers.

Providing a clear definition of what content is helps you create the quality content that your customers deserve.

Providing a clear definition of what content is helps you create the quality content that your customers (and your brand) deserve. Content can be anything: a song, a story, or the small part. What these all have in common is that they are all structured information. Content is structured information, but what we need to focus on is effective content.

Defining effective content

Effective content provides a clear value to both the brand and the customer.

Effective content provides a clear value to both the brand and the customer, has an intention and has value as a standalone asset, needs to be unique and credible to the brand it comes from (Are you doing something else that isn’t just a ripoff of another campaign or another brand’s work? Are you proud of it?), and it needs to function as part of the brand’s ecosystem that encourages consumers to engage further by driving them elsewhere.

Be unique to your brand

One example of this would be Cards Against Humanity on the FAQ page. The brand answers questions in the same spirit of the game. They have a suggestion box where you can submit your “bad idea” and a “contact us.” Their page is effective because it does have a value to the brand because they get fewer annoying emails and their customer, because I got a belly laugh out of their answers. It works as a standalone asset because all of my questions are answered here and if not, I can contact them. It is definitely unique to the brand because no one else could get away with this level of “abuse” on their FAQ page and it’s definitely part of a connected ecosystem because there is a content button and a phone number.

Perform channel audits

Being specific is the most important thing you can do for your audience.

Do less and do it better is the way to go and remember it all comes down to your audience. Whenever I put a new content strategy together, I think about where the audience is, who they are, and what they want. I think running channel audits and understanding whether your audience is on Facebook or Snapchat is an obvious differentiator and it’s not always what you think it is. There are new statistics coming out now that Snapchat is already beginning to age and so the highest growth for Snapchat is the 24-35 market whereas six months ago that would have been under 18. So, I think running regular channel audits is super important and if you don’t have huge budgets then honing in on a couple of places where your customers are most likely to be is key. Being specific is the most important thing you can do for your audience.

How much is too much content to where you are losing your audience and losing your brand messaging? Where do you draw that line?

Focus on targeted, specific, very high quality content.

In the past couple of years we have gone from brands trying to create good content, to hitting that quality mark; and there is a huge volume of content needed. A lot of times it’s about bringing the volume down and focusing on targeted, specific, very high quality content. One thing I look at is user rates. A lot of content in your ecosystem, sometimes, has no one looking at it. Take a neutral and critical hard look at your content ecosystem, then run a content audit to understand what is and isn’t being used. Lastly, start building an editorial calendar based on that information.