Everything you thought you should probably already know about ‘content’

It wasn’t too long ago we just called it ‘editorial’, but today, it’s all about ‘content’. If you’ve ever found yourself in a room with someone talking about getting more from your ‘content’ by means of a ‘content strategy’, ‘content calendar’, or by way of ‘curating content’ and not been exactly sure what they meant, this blog is for you.

What is ‘content’?

In January 1996, Bill Gates wrote his famous essay ‘Content is King’. The title is now a mantra for many a marketer, but what do we really mean by ‘content’? Put simply, it’s audio, images, video or text that’s designed to entertain or inform. It’s the way you persuade your target audience to hear and engage with your message. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.

When it comes to letting your members know, say, about how brilliant your latest CPD tool is,  you’ll probably find they’re more likely to explore if you develop a magazine feature focusing on a member trying it out, than publishing a house ad ‘selling’ the tool.

Content is the stuff that lets you show not tell why membership is valuable.

What is a ‘content strategy?’

Content strategy: connecting the content you produce to the business’s strategy. Simple enough, but what a content strategy can cover is a very broad church.  A content strategist could be responsible for analysing research and online data, developing personas and understanding member journeys to develop messages capable of delivering on your organisation’s overall objectives.

Let’s say you want to bring down the average age of your membership. Your content strategy might look at the various points at which younger prospective members interact with your organisation, or involve research on their motivations for joining and the objections that stop them. Your content strategist may or may not then draft and edit the ultimate content ‘products’.

If you’re struggling to find your feet when it comes to aligning your content to your strategy, our content MOT service provides practical guidance on doing just this.

What is ‘content curation’?

Honestly? This is just picking stuff for publication. It’s the process of sifting through all your regional branches’ stories and photographs to make sure the best stories gets on page, or deciding which of the press releases targeting your membership are PR puff and which have a story worth following-up.

Though it is ‘picking stuff’, there is an art to curation. This is about viewing your content options through the ‘So what?’ lens: What value does this content offer my member? Why would they care? Why would they read? What would we like members to think, feel or do on the back of it and does that support our overall aims?

What is a ‘content calendar?’

You’ve developed your content strategy, you’ve got a load of teams generating content you’re ready to curate effectively. Great. So why aren’t your events attendance numbers better? Why don’t your members know more about key campaigns or benefits?

It could be down to how effectively you’re amplifying your key messages and repurposing content across channels – social, your magazine, website, e-newsletter and events. Content calendars plot what content is going out, when and on what channel. This means teams can collectively help your organisation can get more from the content its producing.

It could be a keynote speech would make a brilliant blog, which you then promote via an InMail on LinkedIn. It could be you need to work with another team to stop them going off on a content tangent that could undermine the corporate plan.

Content calendars also support a ‘no surprises’ culture where no team or exec will be at best confused, or at worse on the back foot when they see a piece of content. “I didn’t know we were saying that now,” is a phrase any well-aligned organisation will not want to hear, which brings us onto…

What is a ‘content silo’?

The ringing of “I didn’t know we were saying that now” around head office is one of the many symptoms of content silos, where teams across your organisation generating and distributing content in their own bubbles. Perhaps PR just emailed out a press release, but forgot to tell your web team. Maybe your stakeholder manager’s just delivered a great handbook and not thought about how it could be covered in the e-newsletter, or you CEO has published a blog that could have been repurposed for the magazine?

It’s not only the potential for embarrassment and uncertainty at stake here, it’s time and resources: content consumes both, so working in content silos means your content isn’t working as hard as it could be.

If tackling this sort of challenge is your thing, come along our upcoming Memcom event Content silos why and how membership organisations need to break them down, which we’re holding in The Shard, Central London on October 10th or get in touch with your questions on our Content MOT service.

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