All the buzz in marketing spheres these days is about content marketing. Conceptually, this has been driven by owning a greater share of the search space and a greater share of social media feeds. The way content is consumed today is fundamentally different from how it was 10 or even 5 years ago.
Previously, content was created with a “push” mentality. Marketers like me would create carefully curated, general content that we could distribute out to defined audiences through mailing lists, events, PR or even targeted media. Now, with social media and search playing a major role in distribution, consumers of content tend to seek out solutions to very specific needs and problems — mixed in with the odd video of a dancing cat.
With this in mind, successful marketing operations today need to create incredibly specialized content in order to earn their fair share of the search and social space. This poses a challenge for marketing departments: How do they surface more deeply specialized content from their experts across the company?
There is no one silver bullet. But here are some tips that can help you get the most out of your content marketing platform:
Create and share your content vision
It’s important to start with a declaration. Don’t focus on content simply for the sake of it. Your efforts should focus on helping your customers buy products or services. Your content vision should articulate to your organization how your content strategy will drive business outcomes, improve your customer experience and help your experts enhance their identity.
Promote the stories of individuals within your own organization
The great news is you probably already have many experts currently creating great, specialized content. In your organization, you likely have many professionals who have contributed to industry publications, blogs and newspapers.
You need to find these bright spots and turn up the volume on them. Syndicate their content aggressively, internally and on your platform to a wider audience. Demonstrate to the broader business the measurable benefits of having in-house talent: Creating great, specialized content is a great way for individuals to build their identity as experts in their field.
I recently worked with an industrial expert to create a short paper on how microbreweries are leasing up industrial space around Vancouver. We promoted that content through our internal, corporate and social channels, and it wasn’t long before this expert became referred to as “The Brewery Guy.” This enhanced identify enabled him to add significantly to his business.
Tell stories like this over and over, and more of your experts will want to build their specialized identities, too.
Make it easy and gather feedback
The third key to a successful company-wide content strategy is to make things easy for people. Your digital platforms should be simple and user-friendly. Develop training and coaching programs. When your experts are ready to participate, make sure your marketing team is ready to help.
Your sales or technical professionals are likely very busy, so having them help create content is something they might not prioritize as highly as the marketing department would. Set realistic content expectations for your experts, and make sure they can get real-time analytics of their performance.
For example, in my business, we have 400 highly specialized real estate experts in Canada. If we could get 50 percent of them to create one specialized piece of content a year in their field of expertise, that would result in about four pieces of content a week for the year.
What about the marketing team?
If you’re getting your field experts to create more relevant specialized content, where does that leave your marketing team?
First, your marketers need to understand your company’s content strategy inside and out. They need to be zealots for the strategy as well as capable of providing advice and coaching to your experts in the business. The functional role of marketing teams is changing rapidly from being content generators to becoming content curators and optimizers.
Marketers can help implement editorial and quality guidelines for others to follow, as well as ensure things like duplicate content is avoided. They should also focus on making sure content is search engine-friendly, tagged appropriately and amplified through company channels and social media, while quickly reporting on program results and success.
Lex Perry is Director of Marketing and Communications for Colliers International in Canada, where he focuses on corporate brand strategy, market research and intelligence, content marketing, public relations and digital marketing.