At SXSW Interactive this year, content was a major discussion point in many of the marketing and social media sessions. I attended three sessions where three major (and very different) brands spoke about the core tenets of their content strategy: National Geographic, Gatorade and the CIA.
Each brand (and yes, you can make the case that the CIA is a brand), takes their own unique approach to creating content that ties together the organization’s voice with their goals. NatGeo is focused on inspiring people to care about the planet. Based on that mission, they want their content to evoke a feeling of curiosity. Gatorade is so ingrained into the fitness and sports world that they need their content to have a powerful emotional element to it. The CIA wants to inform the public on the value of their mission as well as inspire others to service for their country.
Guideline for All Content Creation
So why is this so important for content strategy? Clearly defining the principles for your content gives you a guideline for every piece of content you create and keeps you within your brand’s voice and purpose. Even if it’s a great idea or concept, if it doesn’t stay on brand, then you should steer clear of it. Maintaining brand consistency across all of your content and your social channels is key for connecting with your target audience. Whether you’re writing an article for your blog, posting an Instagram photo, creating a Snapchat video or posting on Facebook, let those fundamentals keep your content in line.
Know Your Mission & Your Voice
Developing these core elements of your content strategy requires a strong understanding of your brand’s overarching purpose as well as the tone you want to convey to your audience. When someone consumes your content, what do you want them to get out of it? Hint: if your first answer is something to the effect of “buy my product now,” you’re not approaching content the right way. You also want your content to be appropriate to your brand. It might not be the best fit for a top secret intelligence agency such as the CIA to have “fun” as one of their content principles. In addition, what type of resources do you have to develop your content? For example, creating content to inform requires a different voice and approach than content designed to make the audience laugh. Do you have people on your team who can write humorous content?
Not Just for Global Brands
Thinking about your content marketing strategy in this way isn’t just for brands with a global audience. Any size organization can plan their content with this approach. It takes planning to develop the core principles for your content strategy and then discipline to keep your content consistent to those ideals. It doesn’t take a multi-million dollar marketing budget to create engaging and relevant content that will connect your organization with your target audience.