The digital revolution has had an unprecedented impact on businesses across the globe, and has heated market competition up as brands compete for online visibility. As a result, the technical and creative skills associated with digital communications and marketing are highly in demand – but what are the abilities needed to ensure that a brand’s content is creating opportunities for further conversation, not just being lost in the noise?
The key to great content creation is the ability to encourage engagement from stakeholders and clients – current or potential. Consequently, it must be engaging and tailored to a vast array of different, niche social platforms which means keeping up with the latest trends and developments. Social media platforms are evolving all the time and so constant research is a must.
One factor in creating memorable content is obviously to make sure it is shareable. Digital communicators and marketers consequently have to think like creative directors in advertising agencies and put themselves into the shoes of the people who will be doing the sharing – in other words the creation of personas. While so often digital marcomms is about effective segmentation and targeting, performance metrics and KPIs – it’s important not to forget the human element – and it’s that mix of creativity, process and technical ability – a real blend of art and science – that separates good digital marketers from great ones!
A great example of this in action was the rise of the “Ice Bucket Challenge”, filmed and uploaded to the internet to raise awareness of Motor Neurone Disease. The nomination element of the campaign was key, and it spread like wildfire. The accompanying #hashtag and its popularity on Instagram and Snapchat grew as the challenge reached many corners of the digital landscape, amplifying its successs.
And it’s that human element which makes content sticky before it reaches the web. What resonates the most with consumers – and pushes people to engage – is a raw, human feel which they can easily empathise with. Digital communicators and marketers who really get this – and can demonstrate success by being able to translate data into story telling - are in very high demand. The poppy campaign introduced by Historic Royal Palaces did just this, and “#towerpoppies” was born. The idea was to demonstrate the vast number of individuals who had given their lives in the Great Wars whilst presenting the creation of the poppies from the very beginning, to give the viewers a behind the scenes glance at the factory where they were being manufactured and offering inside knowledge about the building of the impressive installation. It felt exclusive and authentic, and, coupled with the compelling visual imagery it generated, quickly became a phenomenon.
With the discipline of content marketing evolving all the time, it can be difficult for brands to distil exactly what they are looking for when looking to hire digital content experts into their internal corporate and marketing communications teams. Project management skills are key for senior hires as the collaboration between content planning, production and measurement is critical – as is goal setting, analytics and proving the return on investment.
However, an incredibly important aspect of a successful digital marcomms campaign that cannot be ignored will always be reaction – not necessarily to the campaign itself, but to those engaging. Arguably then, reputation management skills can also fall into the remit of a content marketing strategy. Failing to respond to comments, posts, tweets or messages can position an organisation as inaccessible, unresponsive, uncaring or just pure lazy – all of which are damaging to its brand as a whole.
As the plethora of media channels advances and mutates, so does the type of content that sticks and so consequently the type of skills that a brand will need also continue to evolve. And as the content marketing discipline grows, and becomes an operational function in its own right, the demonstration of ROI - and showing how great content can contribute to strategic goals will become even more important. That calls for commercially-minded, strategic thinkers who can combine creativity with solid business acumen – a mix that can be tough to find – but which marks the beginning of a whole new generation of digital communicators and marketers who will be invaluable to the next wave of brand awareness and messaging.