As of 2015, 89% of content marketers are focused on creating more engaging, higher quality content currently or within the next 12 months. And while intentions seem promising, prospects don’t look too good. Two-thirds of content marketers admit that they either don’t have a strategy or that their plans live in a separate, stand-alone document (a.k.a. an Editorial Calendar).
It’s a content crisis! That was the genesis of my March 15, 2015 SXSW Interactive Workshop: “Why Editorial Calendars Make Your Content SUCK.” We had over 100 attendees and a line out the door ready to evolve the way they thought about content and help our partner, The Shelter Pet Project through a content hack-a-thon.
As you’ll see in the presentation, we conclude that, while Editorial Calendars can be a powerful project management or content organization tool, they can fall short when it comes to content creation. Instead of promoting scenarios where content marketing teams get in the habit of sitting down with a blank calendar of boxes in order to create content for brands’ digital presences, we propose an alternative.
Extraordinary content begins with extraordinary ideas. And those ideas don’t often originate during the process of filling out a daily, multi-platform spreadsheet.
In our experience, content that soars in business value (not just social metrics) today is generally the result of three types of thinking:
- Consumer-Inspired: By being authentic to who you are as a brand and what your consumers care about, brands can land their content in a position to resonate tremendously. In order to derive business value from those connections, consider what your content can realistically ask of your consumers – and how that balances with the value the brand receives from the engagement.
- Data-Driven: The rise of paid social promotion, combined with the widespread use of marketing automation and ad technology presents marketers with a better opportunity than ever to ensure that they meet users in the right place, at the right time, with the right content. Brands that map their content to customers’ lifecycles are seeing gains, especially in industries that are lead or direct response based.
- Conversation-Led: Most marketers understand by now that the real-time marketing ship has sailed in terms of gaining brands first-mover advantage. But conversationally driven marketing that either leverages existing conversations or starts new ones still has a place in the content landscape. Brands that realize that real-time is not always the right time and instead focus on creating content worth talking about are gaining organic lift.
Once we have ideas, we put them to the test through the 3-2-1 idea methodology, which posits that a truly pure idea can be expressed through 3 words, 2 sentences and 1 paragraph.
The best part of the workshop was to see how energized our attendee teams were to put these new ways of thinking to work to benefit the Ad Council’s Shelter Pet Project campaign. At the end of the workshop, representatives from the campaign crowned winners in three categories and, of course, recognized a team as Best-In-Show.
So where will you take your content next? What best practices have you identified for content creation? Are they different than those you use for content organization?