Five key considerations for your 2017 content strategy
Throughout this year, many brands have taken steps towards becoming fully-fledged publishers, creating content and broadcasting it on their own channels. We’ve also seen an uptake in content curation, with brands partnering with key influencers or channels to get their messages to a specific target audience.
Although these trends are positive – suggesting that brands understand the importance of content and how it can have a positive impact on the bottom line – there’s still room for improvement. As we approach 2017, it’s likely that we’ll see more brands look to a structured content strategy to guide their activities, ensuring that these align with marketing objectives and can be justified to the rest of their business.
Hopefully, these strategies will result in the creation of more specific, consumer centric content, that really earns its place in the customer experience, and contributes to overarching business goals. For this to happen, marketers need to focus on five key areas when shaping a content strategy for 2017.
It’s imperative that brands know as much as possible about their target audience; their buying habits, platform preferences, cultural influences, and online behaviours. Marketers should then use these learnings to determine the type of content they create, with a focus on providing customers with real value that will increase their affinity with a brand. Many brands may think they’re doing this already, but audiences are constantly changing, meaning that regular analysis is required to guarantee the creation of relevant, engaging content.
Paid social and programmatic targeting
Any content strategy worth its salt in 2017 will include paid social activity. Gone are the days when an image gallery on Facebook would reach 35% of an existing community. These days, 2% (or less) is more realistic. However, while organic reach is continuing to shrink, Facebook’s paid offerings have become more advanced and efficient. This is also true of Instagram, where specific targeting can be put in place to seed the right content, to the right people, at the right time.
Publishing on these channels without using paid promotion is a disservice to good quality content. A clear content strategy will include an aspect on paid options, and should also consider the use of programmatic targeting to show specific content to individual users based on their past behaviour. This offers marketers the chance to really personalise content, tailoring it to an individual customer’s experience and increasing the chance of a conversion.
Platform and device-specific content
Creating one fantastic piece of content, then publishing it on all a brand’s owned channels just isn’t going to cut it next year. Brands must create strategies that allow them to repurpose and reposition content, so that valuable messages can be communicated in a variety of formats suited to different platforms and devices. This activity should take direction from initial audience insights – helping brands to prioritise particular channels to focus on, and understand formats that best engage their target audience.
Experimentation with various content formats should be undertaken wisely – while it might be OK for certain brands to try out the use of Snapchat or Instagram Stories, for others this won’t make sense, and could alienate audiences if not executed well. While new opportunities such as VR may look exciting, it’s often best to approach these strategically rather than rushing in and potentially injuring a brand’s reputation as a result.
A digital and physical harmony
It’s no big news that brand messages should be consistent – but the task of translating an online experience into the offline world can be challenging. This is going to be the aim of many brands for 2017, as marketers strive to create a unified experience for consumers, supporting their journey between digital channels and visits to physical stores or actualisation of services.
With the dawning of features to enhance this transition, such as Facebook’s ‘Store Visits’ ads and their aptitude to track offline conversions, comes the chance for brands to improve the relevance of the content offered to consumers according to their behaviour.
Content strategies for the year ahead need to cover all channels – whether they’re online or part of the physical world – marrying key messages and maintaining customer experience across touchpoints. This, if executed well, has the ability to much improve user experience, increasing potential for advocacy and customer retention, and driving customers further towards conversions.
Executing a content strategy for the first time can be difficult, so it’s important that it is created with this in mind. Activities must be realistic and achievable within a certain time limit, or else the strategy may be seen as overwhelming, and may have a negative effect on buy-in from the rest of the business.
All good content strategies need to contain a plan for implementation. Whether this means partnering with an agency, or just in-house delegation, it’s vital that all departments involved understand how the strategy is to be carried out and activated to achieve success.
Overall, content marketing next year will start to look more structured. There should be a focus on quality over quantity, and content published should clearly relate to one or more of a brand’s objectives. 2017 is the year that content gets serious – playing a key part in an organisation’s marketing plan, justifying bigger budgets and achieving successful business outcomes. This begins with a clear strategy focused on the development and delivery of purpose-driven content, that can be effectively implemented to enhance consumer experience.
Jessica Gow, Content Planner, Headstream