A 2017 between digital investment opportunities, fragmented attention and overlapping screens.
A communication campaign today is a set of rational and at the same time involving combinations of means and messages. Advertising investments and the programmatic buying market in 2017 will reach 400 million euros at the end of the year, which is 25% more than in 2016. However, we must pay close attention to refusal reactions to the classic push message approach. of advertising: people, like brands, need content and few brilliant and authentic ideas, of immense value, which are consecrated as the only real relief to capture attention.
We must stimulate emotional, lasting, credible, coherent and connected responses with our audience. People are no longer a target, but are involved to make them interact with the entire media and digital ecosystem.
Branded content, owned content: call it with the English label you prefer. What matters is that companies are investing more and more in creating original content on original platforms. If the trend for which companies (non-editorial) are becoming media companies is clear for years, then we must all become aware that companies do not communicate their brand identity only with advertising campaigns aimed at the mass market, but a increasingly significant trend in the creation of original, distinctive, positioning editorial content.
What was Netflix, before becoming the most popular video on demand streaming platform in the world? A DVD distribution company through a mail service. Now he is the greatest creator of original content in the world: you all know it very well, you who have immersed yourself in the binge watching of Stranger Things 2 on the Halloween weekend.
What was Amazon until about 12 months ago? It was “only” an online retail company of products of all kinds. Now it is, after Netflix, the biggest creator of original video content with Amazon Prime Video.
And you all know what Apple is: one of the world’s largest manufacturers of hardware and software for computers, tablets and smartphones. In 2018 Apple is expected to spend $ 1 billion on creating original content.
And even if Pepsi in Italy is dominated by Coca-Cola and its brands, in America PepsiCo’s market share is in line with that of the Atlanta company: Pepsi has equipped itself in America with a content study for the creation of original content, in line with what RedBull already does.
All these cases teach us one thing only: the big players of the mass market (in the sense that their brand awareness is among the highest in the sectors of reference) must remain relevant and consistent with their own audiences, and increasingly raise their small bar in the proposal of original contents.
Brands must become more and more “content brands”: if in a particular sector the investments in the production of original content are not yet high, they will soon be. And if being a first-mover in the market is a risk, the investment is easily repaid if the trading currency is a relevant and contextual content for the people who follow us.
Content marketing is often part of the mix of digital activities of companies in a supportive way, with the general objectives of generating more engagement or bringing qualified traffic to the owners of the company. Normally, companies prefer to invest in a content plan linked to a particular project or initiative: for example videos linked to a campaign, or native advertising activities focused on a particular period.
The distinctive element in this game is the temporal vision that companies dedicate to content marketing: in the above-mentioned cases, of a short period. But what distinguishes advertising activities from content marketing is precisely this: for content marketing to be effective, a long-term plan of at least one year is needed, based on particular measurable business and marketing objectives and the involvement of a particular range of its target.
If some very temporally focused plans can have a good effectiveness in support of other objectives (eg the opening of a mini-site and the collection of qualified traffic versus the sites of the different FCA brands, as FCA did with Il Sole 24 Ore for the “Breakfast Economy“ initiative), the truth is that in order to characterize the brand with a precise editorial identity it is necessary to work with larger, far-reaching projects. Still remaining within the FCA framework, a perfect example in this case is the editorial project “Heritage – Passion without time“, with which the historic brands of the “FIAT Group” consolidate their belonging to a value universe that has deeply penetrated into the tissues of Italian society .
For each brand, there is a unique and inimitable set of values to communicate, with which the public can identify and feel assonant. If the company does not already know it, by listening to the market – and therefore by monitoring people’s conversations – it is possible to obtain a series of indications that will form the basis of the content strategy guidelines.
A wide-ranging content project can be implemented when the company strongly believes in an investment that can have a measurable return after at least the first year of activity, and can pass through the creation of an editorial hub or a dedicated site to the editorial expression of the company, a bit like it did – in Italy – Treccani with Il Tascabile.
No more than 20 years ago, companies had three mass media (or channels) available for their institutional or advertising communication: television, radio, print media. A brand, however, cannot think of its own communication according to the channel: at most, the brand can think of where to convey its messages according to its marketing objectives. In other words: we must not be present on Facebook because we must be present on Facebook; we must be present on Facebook because through this channel we achieve particular objectives (for example: reaching new users, promoting a particular event, bringing traffic to the site, etc.).
These concepts are the basis of any marketing manual for a three-year degree, but perhaps we still have to get out of this “social media intoxication”.
Companies are on social media because “you have to be present”, but it’s important:
If in fact today the names are Facebook, Twitter (even if a little less) and Instagram (more and more), those who say that tomorrow does not make sense to focus – for some types of companies – especially on Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram Direct , perhaps with an integrated experience with a chatbot?
The important thing is never to forget that these distribution platforms have their own rules, which cannot be controlled by us under any circumstances: if Facebook decides to penalize the organic reach of certain contents, on a tactical level we will be able to consider taking some actions in the short term (for example moving a part of the media budget to sponsor some external content on our Facebook page), at a strategic level we have to think of new communication channels to satisfy the same marketing objectives.
Through a competitive analysis on at least a quarterly basis, it is necessary to observe what are the trends in the use of distribution channels and the amplification of contents in their sector. Once you have observed these new trends, you need to ask yourself about the specific role played by each channel, without risking the overlap of the contents, and hypothesizing which gaps could fill the activation of a new channel, in line with the company’s marketing objectives.
Content is made to talk to people, and people communicate with human language.
The Cluetrain Manifesto already said it, with its 95 Theses, a good 18 years ago, but it is worth repeating the first five:
This historical step is necessary to fully understand the meaning of concepts that in Gushmag and TSW we believe to be fundamental when we approach our work on a daily basis, such as “UX Writing” and “Content Journey”.
We must write thinking about the experience of the people: Veronica wrote it very well a few weeks ago. What is relevant, for those who produce and distribute content, is to think about the effect of the contents on people’s lives: the contents, in fact, have a real impact on every single moment and point of contact between the Person and the Brand . That’s why we have to think about the global experience of the person: UX Writing is writing the best words in the right context, thinking about where and how a person will meet them in his path.
Only if we are human can we write words that not only have a human voice but a human substance.