We’ve always believed in the power of great content, but embarking on a full-scale rolling content strategy is a big move and not to be taken lightly. Our Creative Director Callum McGeoch thinks there are 6 questions every aspiring brand publisher and marketing director should ask themselves before making the leap into content.
At Livity we’ve been banging the drum for quality engaging, entertaining, useful original content ever since persuading Lambeth Council to bundle all its youth messages into a single, sustained youth co-created entertainment title - Live Magazine – nearly twelve years ago. Soon after that we helped Talk To Frank, PlayStation, MySpace and Three mobile collaborate with Channel 4 on the world’s first multi-platform interactive TV drama. And ever since, alongside our more traditional campaigns, we’ve consulted on, devised or delivered rolling digital content and brand publishing strategies for Penguin Books, Barclays, Fabric, BAFTA, Public Health England, Network Rail, O2 and many others.
But we also know that it isn’t the right path for everyone. Kicking off a long-term content strategy requires substantial investment and commitment and, in most cases, a completely new set of behaviours, skills and processes.
So before you start you better be pretty sure it’s the right thing to be doing, and that you’ve got the conditions in place you need to succeed. Ask yourself these six questions….
1. What’s your motive?
Did you feel a bit left out when everyone at that conference was talking about their exciting new brand YouTube channels? Has the PR team not had much joy getting people to talk about your brand so you might as well have a crack at doing it yourself? Hoping it will save you a fortune in ad spend this year? Got a bit of under-spend to play with? Looking for a flashy way to launch something? Need to double sales before the end of Q4? Are you new in-post and want to make a name for yourself as soon as possible?
If it’s any of the above then think of a better reason or walk away now.
But if you’ve got mid- to long-term objectives to grow market share, change attitudes and behaviour, sustain and deepen brand awareness and affinity, develop an engaged community or open up innovative new digital sales channels then the sooner you can start producing punchy, entertaining, relevant, regular, shareable, responsive, topical original content the better.
2. Do your stakeholders have balls of steel?
Growing your own audience around content is a long game. Dipping your toes to test the water is only going to return a false negative result. You’ve got to jump in with both feet and be prepared to wait a year or more before you start to feel any warm fuzzy return on your investment. Getting you board to greenlight your masterplan is just the first challenge. Keeping their faith in the strategy 3, 6, 9 months down the line will be even harder. Be sure they know what they’re in for and have the nerve to see it through.
3. Can you get the whole company on side?
You’re also going to need the confidence and support of as many other people as possible, both to help shape the strategy and implement it. To ‘Think Like A Publisher’ and start behaving like one too it won’t just be cash, crew and kit you need, but a company-wide culture change as well.
Departments that have previously had little to do with each other will have to start talking daily and everyone needs to take the editorial mindset into their role and start reporting back from the frontline. They don’t just need to know about it or support it, they need to really get it.
4. Are you really that interesting?
If your instinctive answer is ‘Hell yeah!’, then put yourself in your target audience’s shoes for a moment, take a long hard look at yourself and ask the question again. If the answer is still the same, then congratulations, you probably work in entertainment, fashion or sport. If your answer is a definite ‘No’ then chances are you’re being a bit hard on yourself, and maybe not looking in the right places.
Draw a Venn with everything your target audience chooses to read about, watch, listen to, talk about or share on one side, and all the topics that your brand could be qualified to talk about or associate itself with (allow yourself to be fairly creative and tangential here), on the other. If the overlap is almost non existent then maybe stick to buying your way in front of other publishers’ audiences than killing yourself trying to earn your own. If there is plenty you have in common then, why haven’t you started telling all those stories already?
5. Do you have hidden talents?
So you’ve made the decision, persuaded the board, secured the budget and are all set to push the start button. But before you post your Content Director job ad or start figuring out how to let go of all those media buyers, PRs and campaign managers that you’re not going to need any more, take a good look at what talent you’ve already got close to home.
You know that guy Tom in research? No? Well he’s been writing his hilarious gig review blog for years now. And Lucy in accounts’ baking tips have got thousands of subscribers on youtube. Between them they know as much as about optimum blog post lengths, keywords, subscription drivers and the best upload time to catch ABC1 mums as anyone.
An internal skills and interests audit will reveal these hidden gems, renew their enthusiasm for work and make every member of your organisation feel like you are genuinely interested in them and make them interested in how they can evolve to support this new way of working.
6. Do your media buyers know how to play in this space?
The final hurdle, and in many ways, the final frontier of content marketing. Many a well-considered, well-crafted content strategy has been scuppered by a lack of mutual understanding, communication or collaboration between the guys who are trying to earn and own an audience, and those who are brilliant at buying their way into other media owners’ audiences.
The most successful content marketers (Hello Red Bull, Yo Nike) are at their best when earned and paid are working in harmony – using media budgets to enhance (eg talent deals, channel collaborations) and amplify (sponsored results, paid distribution) their content, not advertise it. Show, don’t tell.
If you have any inkling this might be a challenge, address it as early as you can. Get your content people and your media agency bods to sit down, listen to each other, learn from each other and hatch a joined-up plan together. Get it right and the impact on your business could be game-changing.
25.07.14 Callum McGeoch, Creative Director at Livity
A version of this article was originally published on Contagious.com
Creative team member Ty Stanton-Jones, encourages us all to look beyond our desks when hunting for new ideas.
A piece of furniture with a flat or sloping surface and typically with drawers, at which one can read, write, or do other work.
An electronic device which is capable of receiving information (data) in a particular form and of performing a sequence of operations in accordance with a predetermined but variable set of procedural instructions (program) to produce a result in the form of information or signals.
A separate seat for one person, typically with a back and four legs.
The above is your workspace, an area you will spend the majority of your life and are probably at right now, clicking, scrolling and pinging your way towards the next task. Thrilling I know.
The desk has become our go to spot for almost anything work related, and rightly so, it’s practical, efficient and the tools we use everyday have been designed to work perfectly on it and not to mention those ‘comfy’ seats that swivel.
However, there are times when sitting at a desk just doesn’t quite feel right; fishing, curling, Monday mornings, Friday afternoons and when generating ideas.
Ideas are not found at a desk, only brought to a desk.
When it comes to ideas the desk should be the last place you go. You have to get out there, regardless of how familiar you are with the subject matter. You cannot look inside your head, or sit at a computer surfing the internet for inspiration. There is nothing original there, just a stream of repetitive noise.
Ideas are hidden within the new experiences and interactions with the world around you. Ideas are free and they are underneath your very nose.
Put it this way; all ideas have parents (experiences), and in order for those ideas to be conceived you need the parents (experiences) to meet. I doubt your parents would have met and made a sweet idea baby (you), if both were sat at a desk all day forcing new ‘experiences’ out of a blank piece of paper.
It’s called the birds and the bees. Putting two and two together to form an original solution to a problem.
So next time you have a meeting, get a new brief or can’t think of a place to eat dinner, go away from your desk and look around you the idea is in front of you, it’s up to you to notice it, put experience 1 with experience 2 and have an idea baby of your own.
Then back to your efficient desk where you can raise and form your idea into something really special.
18.07.2014, Ty Stanton-Jones, Concept, Design & Art Direction at Livity
An old friend asked me to do a reading at his wedding, actually it was his wife-to-be who asked me, he never would, and that was where the challenge lay. What do you read at a wedding for someone you know very well, and you know very well that they are the least sentimental wedding reading type of person in creation?
I spent hours in shops leafing through books and evenings online looking at lyrics, pondering poetry and considering the classics, knowing none of this limp ‘gaze into my eyes and talk about teddy bears growing old together’ jazz is going to fly for this guy, I imagined my friend, sceptic to the core, one eyebrow raised, snarl/smirk on, looking at me from the middle of the church, gently shaking his head…
But, undeterred from finding something that might, just might cut through his Boss suit of emotional armour I thought to myself, enough with soppy patrol, what this cynic needs is some logic in his love, and I googled the words ‘Einstein’ and ‘Love’.
What follows is an original wedding reading that I made for my friend. It’s entirely based on the truth I found on the internet, mainly, with some quotes and an account I found in a book on Einstein, that all alleged to be historically, and scientifically accurate.
I weaved them all together, with some creative license and in doing so, I might have adapted the truth a tiny bit, but only in the name of Love and sharing in case anyone else has a similarly challenging challenge to talking about love that they need to logically overcome.
And so, for anyone else, playing fiddle to a cheerful, but total, cynic, for whom the standard fare of flowery bleating won’t do, here is;
The Relativity Of Love by Sam Conniff.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, in 1956 to be precise, a young yet ambitious scientist, keen to unravel the mysteries and meaning of life, addressed himself to Albert Einstein.
He addressed the great scientist at an assembly of the worlds greatest minds, who had been convened to try to answer some of the worlds greatest challenges.
“What”, the young scientist asked to Einstein, “is the formula for success and happiness in love and life?”
Einstein smiled. And a very long minute passed before he replied.
And when he did, Einstein said;
“If A is succes, then you should say A = X + Y + Z. With X being hard work and Y being play”
The assembly was silent.
“And what is Z” asked the young disciple?
”Knowing when to keep your mouth shut” said Albert Einstein.
And in front of the greatest living brains on the planet, Einstein went on,
“Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love, don’t seek answers, where questions do not belong. How on earth can you explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as love?”
And Einstein completed his lesson in love with a simple, although not wholly scientific test;
He said, and don’t try this at home, “Put your hand on a stove for a minute and it seems like an hour.
Sit with the special girl, the one you’re forever meant to be with, for an hour, and it seems like a minute”
And in front of this great assembly of minds, Einstein focussed on the young scientist and said
“That my young friend, is relativity.”
18.07.2014, Sam Conniff, Livity Chairman
Hazal Kirci, 16, gives us the lowdown on the apps she’s using the most and why…
If there’s one app I am always on, it’s WhatsApp. I always use WhatsApp when there’s Internet around. It’s a far cheaper alternative to texting and much more enjoyable because of the abundance of emojis to choose from. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” can also be applied to WhatsApp emojis when you don’t want a message to sound too deep and serious. For example, “if you say so” insert peering eyes. In addition to that, it’s an easy platform to send images, videos and audio messages to friends and family, especially in cases where you want to share a funny photo you found on Facebook/Instagram.
With an array of eye-catching and professional photos, Tumblr is a unique form of social media that’s established itself as a form of “blog”; almost like a blend of Pinterest and Blogspot. Also, when stuck on what to wear and in need of fashion inspiration, I can simply click on search and enter a celebrity or fashion blog. Then, viola, I can look through the pictures until I find an outfit that inspires me.
3) A tie between London Transport Planner and Emails
Both apps have made my life more efficient and easier to lead. The transport planner allows me to ‘favourite’ the bus stops I use the most and at the simple tap of a screen, receive a specific bus timetable in seconds. A lifesaver! As for the email app, I think it’s safe to say that this app is the handiest one you can own. By enabling you to receive immediate notifications for new emails, I can constantly be on the ball as well as find out about new opportunities in a matter of minutes (handy when some things turn out to be first-come-first-served).
16.07.2014, Hazal Kirci, 16, Livity work experience
With the World Cup kicking off today, we here at Livity towers have been hotly disputing our favourite Brazil 2014 marketing campaigns. From Nike to McDonald’s, big brands are looking to reach out to audiences through the ‘joga bonito’ this summer.
Here is our pick of the bunch.
1. McDonald’s – Gol!
Who needs superstar footballers when you have cute kids with amazing tekkers?
2. Pepsi – Now Is What You Make IT #FutbolNow
Star footballers helping recreate a Bowie classic? Innovative and fun – be sure to check out the interactive version!
3. No More Page 3 – #KeepItUp
Without resorting to celebrities, music tie-ins or flashy video content, one campaign still managed to make a noise on social media, not to sell a product but instead to ask people to keep up the pressure on Rupert Murdoch to drop Page 3.
4. Nike – The Last Game
Incredible animation and all the star players you could want. Worthy of a place just for the incredible animated Wayne Rooney; only this has come as close to nailing his look.
5. Beats by Dre – The Game Before the Game
Lacks the humour of some of the other videos, but makes up for it by going for all out epic-ness.
12.06.14 – Will Fielder, Account Executive @ Livity