The term “content creation” is far more than just a piece of jargon thrown around marketing departments and seminars.
We’re living in the golden age of content marketing. Judging by how far formats like live video and virtual reality have come in recent years, there is certainly a lot to forward to in the (very) near future.
That being said, businesses of all shapes and sizes are investing heavily in creative talent and strategic minds to boldly define their brand presence across the web. Now, I’m not going to bore you with stats and figures, but when it comes to brand development, meaningful content is what separates interesting from irrelevant.
On the surface, branded content should work to define a unique voice and tone, showcase expertise in the field, generate buzz, nurture leads, blah blah blah. However, the process of content creation adds a lot of value behind the scenes as well.
From and insider’s perspective, let’s dive into what that entails.
Critical Eye on Industry Trends
Crafting content is a game of trends.
If you want to put your brand messaging in the spotlight, you need to have a firm understanding of exactly what that spotlight is, and where it’s shining.
Truth be told, there is much more research involved in content creation than many assume, especially in an agency setting. Personally, I dedicate the first hour of my day to reading up on the latest industry news, blogs, and influencer content, based on the nature of my assignment.
The goal is to know what topics are currently attracting the most eyeballs and sparking debates. Once you’ve zeroed in on what that is, your job is to create content that pokes at this particular interest, gets people talking, and contributes value – all with a level of zing and pep that is uniquely your own.
Identifying trends is a critical step of content creation and lays the groundwork for where a brand will embed their messaging, when they will do it, and how they can do it in a way that promotes positive development for now and in the future.
Most important, however, is to keep the brand message well clear of a marketing echo chamber; in my case, Marketoonist got it scarily right:
Valuable Insight on Audience Sentiment
One of the most fascinating aspects of the current business era is ALL consumers now have a voice that can be heard across the world. We can thank social media for that.
The beauty of content marketing is you not only have the ability to shape audience perceptions, you can see them in real time.
To throw in another piece of jargon, one of the primary metrics that judges success in content marketing is engagement. Engagement levels are what put your brand development strategy in perspective. A key aspect of content creation is being able to pick up on emotions and play to them accordingly.
The content team at General Electric is one of my favorites. They have an amazing knack for taking trending subjects and turning them into content that makes a powerful impression. This is one of their recent posts that resonated with me:
When tragedy struck, GE Healthcare engineers like Ibrahim El Nafrawi worked to make sure victims of a stampede in Saudi Arabia received proper care.
Posted by GE on Monday, December 4, 2017
Throughout the content, it’s blatantly clear that GE is a brand that cares about the welfare of people around the world.
One of the initial steps in content creation is learning your audience’s attitudes in relation to a certain subject:
- Are people angry?
Defining the mindsets and general consensus among audiences determines the direction of the tone you will use. For this purpose, social media monitoring tools like Brandwatch are the bread and butter for many content creators and marketers.
The value of these insights spread far beyond content marketing. Consumer attitudes across your industry have a huge impact on the entirety of your business operations. Content creators are on the front lines of interpreting this information.
Constant Competitive Analysis
Competitive analysis is an ongoing process necessary to develop any brand. With every piece of content produced, you are competing with hundreds – maybe even thousands – of similar brands shooting for the same goals.
Content creators are constantly asking themselves:
- What is everyone else in the industry doing?
- How can we be better?
Answering these questions extends across the entirety of digital presences. In addition to setting up Google Alerts, content creators are checking up on competitors’ social media accounts, reading their blogs, and in some cases, subscribing to their email lists to get a feel for their automation program and downloadable content.
Every observation is a done with a VERY critical eye. This involves using a wide range of content marketing tools to understand competitors’ tone, visual quality, presentation, SEO impact, calls-to-action, patterns in customer engagement, and much, much more.
Competitive analysis is done to make sure your branded content makes a profound impact in the industry, as opposed to getting lost in the shuffle of the vast digital universe. In many ways, your content creators are the eyes and ears keeping tabs on what your competitors are up to.
Dedication to Innovation
“Innovative” should be an adjective that describes every content creator. No one in this line of work wakes up in the morning and plans to create average, mediocre content.
Throughout all the research on trends, audience attitudes, and competitors, the common mindset and objective is to push the envelope. If you look at some of the most successful content marketers, you’ll notice they are constantly experimenting with new approaches and formats to reach and engage with wider audiences.
As of now, 360° video is an extremely hot topic in content marketing. National Geographic has been experimenting with this format, and I have to say, they don’t disappoint. In my opinion, they are in a league of their own with content creation. One of my favorite clips is Lions 360° released earlier this year. Take a look:
The goal of this format is to create an extremely personal and immersive viewing experience – something Nat Geo viewers would literally have to climb into the lion’s den to get otherwise.
Everyone involved in a content marketing operation likely spends a fair bit of time making sure they are informed and up-to-speed on all the latest advancements in the digital landscape. Then, the creators are racking their brains to find ways to use them to their advantage.
In many cases, these ideas can extend much further than just content.
Simply put, when you are developing a brand, you either work with the changes, or be left behind. Content creators are at the forefront of this concept.
There is never a dull moment in the life of a content creator.
The scope of creativity isn’t getting any smaller, and the demand for these professionals is only going up. Throughout the entire process of researching, writing, conceptualizing, and executing, there are all sorts of actionable insights being absorbed. The value content creators contribute to a brand’s development is truly priceless! What do you think?