You can’t move for people talking about content marketing at the moment. At Livity we’ve been banging the drum for quality original content ever since first persuading Lambeth Council (in South London) to bundle all its youth messages into a single, sustained youth co-created entertainment title nearly twelve years ago. LIVE is now an international, multi-platform youth content brand and we’ve since consulted on, devised or delivered digital content strategies for Penguin Books, Channel 4, Barclays, Fabric, BAFTA, Dept of Health, Network Rail and many more.
But we also know that a long-term content strategy requires substantial investment and commitment, and is not the right answer for everyone. So if you’re contemplating content and wondering whether to go for it or not, try asking yourself these five questions first…
1. Why are you interested in it?
Be honest. Did you feel a bit left out when everyone at that conference was talking about their exciting new content strategies? 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 by Q3?
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 entertaining, relevant, regular original digital content the better.
2. Do your stakeholders have balls of steel?
Growing your own audience around content is a long game. Dipping your toes in 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 the 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 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 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.
Try drawing a Venn diagram with all the topics that your target audience might conceivably choose 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 area of overlap is less than 10% then it might be best to stick to buying your way in front of other content publishers’ audiences than killing yourself trying to earn your own.
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 anyway, 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 organization feel like you are genuinely interested in them and make them interested in how they can evolve to support this new way of working.
Written for Contagious Magazine.
15.05.13, Callum McGeogh, Creative Director
My friends are coming over in a few days, so last weekend I descended into a flat-cleaning frenzy. As a typical multi-tasking freak I ended up scrubbing the bathroom, whilst listening to a news roundup podcast on my laptop and checking social media on my phone. At the same time, I had my favourite magazine (paper edition) handy to take a peek whenever possible (I usually end up reading a few pages and then forgetting about it, too consumed by Twitter or the BBC news apps). My books pile also kept ‘staring at me remorsefully’ reminding me that I mustn’t forget to at least attempt reading a few pages tonight (trying to start a few new titles that will soon end up added to my half-read books gallery).
Sounds familiar? Sounds a bit chaotic? Information overload.
Life has never been faster or busier. A quick Google search reveals a tonne of stats around this subject:
- “…current data levels are the equivalent of each US citizen consuming 12 hours of information – or media – each day… we sleep for seven hours a day, in practice that means that three quarters of waking time is spent receiving information.” (Source: an academic study by the University of California, San Diego)
- In 60 seconds lots happens: 168 million emails sent; 694,445 Google searches; 695,000 Facebook status updates; 370,000 Skype calls are made; 98,000 tweets on Twitter; 20,000 new posts on Tumblr; 13,000 iPhone apps downloaded; 6,600 new pictures on Flickr; 1,500 new blog entries posted and finally 600+ videos posted totalling over 25 hours duration on YouTube (Source: Go-Gulf)
- Internet Use Disorder (IUD) may soon be included as an actual mental health disorder (Source: Forbes.com)
- A “recently developed piece of software called Freedom can disable your computer’s internet access for up to eight hours, with no option to unlock save a full system reboot… we will pay good money for the privilege of being deprived of it” http://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/modern-times-the-blackout
Can digital immigrants help digital natives? Is your head spinning? Mine surely is, and I wonder how today’s teens feel? They code, they hack, they are omnipresent online – they have ‘their brains wired into a series of global social networks” (http://bigdesignevents.com/2011/08/are-you-a-digital-native-or-a-digital-immigrant). But where is the balance? If us digital immigrants who were born before the introduction of technology struggle, how will they cope?
Please join the conversation and let me know your views!
04.03.13, Ewa Kwolek, Account Director
72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. A staggering amount and it’s only set to increase day by day with the proliferation of smart phones and video based entertainment and learning. But how much of this content is good quality? I guess it depends on your personal craving for cats getting stuck in cardboard boxes or stressed dog owners running around Richmond park. Whilst all content is subject to our unpredictable and unusual tastes there’s some things you can take into account to create that much longed for ‘viral video’…
Be quick – the first 15 seconds is the most important part of the video. People are ruthless with their time when consuming videos online, so make it spectacular or informative or gripping and so on in that first 15…
Determine the purpose of the content and communicate it clearly – what’s the video trying to do or say, what’s the call to action? Most of the time being explicit about what you want the viewer to do often results in them doing it!
Make it inherently shareable – can the essence of the content and its purpose be based on the need or action of sharing it?
Listen to your audience and show that you do – building views and an audience is all the easier if you include them in the process. It gives them a sense of ownership and turns them into the most authentic PR / promo machine you can have.
Be different – people are already bombarded with video content. So standing out from the crowd is essential. Be playful with your creative treatment and your audience will respect you for it.
There’s a starter for 5! I’ll be back soon with some more suggestions. In the meantime i’ll leave you with a piece of content from Mooncup that I think nails it on a few of the above viral triggers. Enjoy…
22.02.13, Joshua Connell, Senior Account Manager
Why is it that marketing agencies don’t like marketing themselves?
Time and time again you hear that agency promotion and communications fall to the bottom of the list. Surely for a group of people whose sole raison d’etre is to communicate, this is a bit bonkers?
As I take on the mantle of Livity Business Development and Marketing Director I TOTALLY get it, and am having to break through some deeply ingrained behaviour traits.
I have the most fantastic parents who spent many a year, hour and minute trying to engrain some old school manners and attitudes into my young mind, but I can’t help but think in Marketing and Business Development they might be a hindrance that I need to address.
Here are a few of these, and my ‘repositioning’ (note: nice use of a marketing term) of them to help anyone with the same kind of mental block as my teenage-self mind:
It’s rude to interrupt:
My parents spent many a meal trying to teach me (to varying levels of success) this behavioural trait. However, if we’re honest, marketing messaging or a cold business call or email is just that: an interruption.
It’s rude to interrupt, unless you have something interesting to say:
Without a doubt I think Livity is interesting. But not everything about us is interesting to everyone. Work out what is the MOST relevant piece of information you want to impart to each specific person; then they won’t mind hearing from you. For some it might be a piece of content, or a success story of a young person. For others something more frivolous altogether – a holiday tip for example.
When asking for something, say “Please”:
Oh goodness, I know I sound needy but all I want to say to prospective clients is “please, please, pretty pur-leeze send me your brief”. But this can’t work. I suddenly become the needy girl after a date desperately texting and trying to secure a second date. That don’t work in dating and it won’t work in business.
Please can I make your life easier:
That’s what agencies should do. As clichéd as it sounds we really can offer fresh thinking, an invigorated passion for a problem or challenge, insights from wider markets and, when working in the most successful way, be an extension of their team.
Only boring people get bored: How many times did I hear this on a rainy Saturday afternoon when My Little Ponies just weren’t cutting it, and the A-Team wasn’t on for another two hours?
Give the bored people something to look at:
Do a lot and you can’t get bored, and you won’t bore other people either. Talk about your business A LOT, on lots of different platforms. Get in the speaker opportunities, keep updating the blog, go to events, host events, create corporate PR relationships, enter (and win) awards, update your tweets, Facebook, G+ and Linkedin updates. There is nothing boring about that.
It’s only been three weeks of new behaviour versus 33 years of repetitious training from the Brundle nest, so it could be a long journey. Have a think about old behaviours you might need to ‘reposition’ to help you in your job. If nothing else it can be nostalgic and therapeutic to blame your parents (no matter how wonderful they are).
Oh and “please, please, pretty pur-leeze send me your brief.” Old habits die hard.
Or, for a sales and business development inspiration, channel Alec Baldwin Glengarry Glen Ross*.
*Warning: it does contain a few naughty words.
23.01.13, Kate Brundle, Business Development and Marketing Director
On Friday the amazing Khoi Tu, author of Superteams: The Secrets of Stellar Performance From Seven Legendary Teams, came to speak to us at Livity HQ about making the Livity team an A-Team!
You can watch some highlights from the speech he gave at the RSA here:
…and here are a few nuggets of wisdom that we picked up on the day:
- Behind every great individual is a great team
- Four is the minimum number of people needed to form an effective team – think the Rolling Stones, or the SAS – they have teams of four too! Any less than that and you don’t have enough diversity
- 12 is the maximum if you want to keep things manageable
- Teams need a clear unifying purpose, and should be able to answer the three following questions:
- Where are we now?
- Where are we going?
- How do we get there?
- One of the big differences between a good team and a great team is practice. The Formula 1 McLaren team rehearse changing the tyres on their cars 2000 times, then figure out how to work even faster, and practice another 2000 times! They repeat this process until perfect
- Teams are motivated by both hope and fear. Fear is our first reaction, but as human beings we are unique in that we can override that fear with hope
- “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw
- To truly make a difference, you need to be unreasonable. Sheep-like behaviour might make for an easy life, but you’ll never change the world that way!
15.01.13, Florence Wilkinson, Senior Account Manager