Where does the content come from and how does your business make it work? If content is king (or queen, as I like to think of it), how can your business use it to build a strong presence on search engines, social networks, video, and other channels? On January 28, the Minnesota chapter of the American Marketing Association hosted a panel discussion titled Attracting Customers through Content Marketing, and I was lucky enough to be asked to moderate the discussion.
The panelists were all seasoned content creators, strategists, and marketers, who shared their strategies and content marketing tactics at their organizations; I learned something from each and every one. Here are my favorite takeaways from the panel:
Troy Melhus (@melhusplace), Director of New Media at St. Paul Public Schools, brought up an important point for dealing with content in an ongoing crisis. (For those of you not in MN, we’ve had a series of school closings due to extreme cold this month, and it was Troy’s department that spread the word.) Troy recommended driving visitors to one consistent page hosted on your website that can be updated when news changes. Then, treat all of your other channels and pages like a landing page, linking to the updated news feed early and often. This way, your audience knows exactly where to go, whether they’re finding the initial news through Facebook or a Google Search.
Courtney Algeo (@icecrmsocialite), Brand Communications Specialist at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, spoke of the success she has found with single-subject email marketing. Instead of a newsletter linking to stories from all over the organization, she has found her audience is much more engaged when the email addresses only one campaign. Open rates have gone up, and people have opted in to social campaigns more often. She also addressed the complexity of having lots of content creators for one organization; establishing that internal staff members should not “scoop” news stories on social media before the communications team has gone a long way in creating strategic and effective content.
Amanda Costello (@amandaesque), Lead Content Strategist at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development, spoke of working with digital content in the often turtle-like pace of academia. When her content creators — who do a great job at sharing stories, research, and news with her — come to her with an question like “Can we put this [piece of research] on Facebook?”, she responds by asking them to focus on the content of the story and shows them the Conversation Prism (above), a visual of social channels developed by Brian Solis and JESS3. There are many tools out there, but she works with her content creators to determine the best one for each type of content. This helps creators understand the complexity of digital content strategy and lets her, as the Content Strategist, find the most effective tool and format for the story that should be told.
Finally, Ben Miller (@panchomill), Web Producer at A Prairie Home Companion, has a job that makes content marketers envious: national television shows make content about the nationally recognized media program that supplies his content. But he brought up an important point about maintaining transparency about who is creating the content; on the Prairie Home Twitter account, he’s very clear with his audience that it is not Garrison Keillor, national radio personality, writing the Tweets. He reminds his audience often that it’s Ben, a brand representative for Prairie Home Companion. He also noted that content marketers need the flexibility and awareness to spread the word and interact when anyone else is commenting about the product, even if it’s not the most conventional fit. Be aware of all your content opportunities, not just the ones that are coming from your in-house content supply.
All in all, even though I’ve been working with digital content since about 1997, I learned a lot about creation, marketing, and governance for content. Thanks again to the MN AMA Digital Series for the opportunity to chat with these experts!