What’s Trending: Connect With Content

July 13, 2020

Man working at a table in a kitchen

In 2008, the inimitable Seth Godin said, “Content marketing is the only marketing that’s left.” 

He made the statement as the world was in turmoil: The housing crisis was spiraling into a full-blown economic meltdown, fueling unrest around the world. With the world in crisis, people craved stability, empathy, something valuable and useful. Content marketing was the only way brands could offer all of the above.

Seth’s words are even more relevant today. As we continue to press forward, content marketing continues to be the best way to connect with people, offer them value, and build relationships with entire communities. 

For this installment of What’s Trending, I looked for resources that will help marketers make their content smarter, more empathetic, and more effective, both now and after the current situation has passed.

1. 5 Content Marketing Trends That Should Be on Your Radar

There’s been so much talk of finding a “new normal” that it’s easy to forget how volatile the “old normal” was. Innovators in content marketing were never stagnating; content marketing has been evolving and changing since before it was considered a separate discipline. So we shouldn’t hesitate to develop new ways of creating and distributing content.

In this piece, John Hall does admirable work sifting through the current trends in content marketing and identifying the ones that have staying power. 

I found two of John’s points worth giving special attention to. First, that we should “prepare for quick content pivots.” He observes that the pace of change has accelerated, the world is in flux, and content plans will have to be flexible to accommodate tomorrow’s breaking news.

Second, John highlights the importance of building influence in your brand and with trusted co-creators. “Build up your own valuable channel first,” he says. “Then, take your success from those efforts and leverage them into opportunities with others.” Working with influencers is a key way to get your content seen by a broader audience, especially with the glut of content we’re seeing right now.

2. Content Marketing in Times of Disruption

It’s clear that the days of creating an entire year’s worth of content calendar — or even a quarter’s worth — are behind us. George Nguyen echoes John’s sentiment about the breakneck speed in which news stories break and evolve. For George, the solution is to create a rapid response workflow. 

“Each team member should be familiar with your organization’s stance on current events and the issues affecting its customers,” he says. “Having these conversations ahead of time can expedite the response process, instead of slowing it down with internal debates.”

George also suggests that marketers need to increase their reliance on data and decrease the “gut feeling” assumptions that can sometimes guide content creation. He suggests using search data to gauge what your audience is searching for during a crisis, augmented with soliciting feedback directly from your audience.

A data-driven, flexible approach to content can keep your content relevant to whatever happens next — and make sure your brand doesn’t make a costly messaging misstep.

3. Why Content Marketing Is More Important than Ever for B2B Brands

In this article, Nick Nelson lays out a compelling two-point rationale for content marketing in a crisis: 

“1. It’s cost-effective at a time where budgets and ROI equations everywhere are closely reviewed and scrutinized.

2. It’s non-pushy at a time where customers are increasingly resistant to interruptive, promotional messaging.”

Now is the perfect time for brands to stand up, be seen, be supportive, and build trust. To drive the point home, Nick provides three examples of exceptional B2B content marketing during the crisis. These role models include Citigroup’s support of the social justice movement, American Express’ help for small businesses affected by the pandemic, and the Content Marketing Institute’s COVID-19 resources page.

These examples clearly illustrate how even a B2B enterprise can make relevant, empathetic, emotionally moving content. More than that, Nick makes the case that this type of content is imperative, that brands not only can, but must use their platforms for the common good.

4. How to Measure Your Content Marketing Success

Even as we talk about the emotional, social and moral implications of good content, we can’t lose sight of content marketing’s business purpose. Meaningful content and effective marketing don’t have to be at odds; in fact, meaningful content makes for more effective marketing than the alternative.

This deep dive from Ben Jacobson can help you measure the results of your content marketing efforts in metrics that matter to your marketing department and to the organization at large. His article can help you define success, choose the right metrics, and even measure the previously unmeasurable, like your brand’s authority and share of voice. 

“Data relating to the number of inbound links, mentions of your brand on social media, and earned media coverage are all indications that your authority, digital footprint, and brand awareness are growing,” he says.

With the right KPIs in place, marketers can further focus their content on the most valuable audience, and the most effective ways to reach them. 

If content marketing is the only marketing we have left, let’s make the most of it.

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