We were joined by speakers at Branded3, CrowdCat, Media Bounty, Search Laboratory and 8 Million Stories for the Figaro Digital Content Marketing Seminar. Here’s a quick round-up of all the presentations
Content Marketing in 2016
Stephen Kenwright, Director of Search at Branded3
“If you want more SEO traffic and better rankings next year, there are three things you’ve got to do more of,” says Stephen Kenwright at Branded3. You need to optimise your content for keywords – don’t create ‘thin’ content specifically to rank for a keyword. Your content needs to be useful, regardless of whether or not you think it’ll generate links. And if you do want links, you’ll have to go out and build them.
“Good, unique content doesn’t get links on its own. When we’re talking about natural link building, we’re talking about content that’s so good people will talk about it without being paid.”
You need to create content that gets links if you want SEO rankings, and you need to create content that’s useful and engages people. You also need to create content that is optimised for the keywords that people are actually searching for. “But very rarely,” says Stephen, “is this all the same piece of content.”
Do You Really Know Your Audience?
Richard Summers, CEO at CrowdCat
“Psychometrics has been evolved over 200 years to be the best predictor of human behaviour from the smallest amount of information,” says Richard Summers at CrowdCat. In order to effectively engage users with content, psychometrics and psychology can be used to understand what motivates their behaviour. And although behaviour – which Richard defines as a “set of decisions” – radically differs depending on the individual, there are some known rules for motivation.
“Positive motivation works better than negative motivation. Something that’s certain works better than something that’s uncertain. And something immediate is better than something that’s far off in the distance.” In the short term, extrinsic motivation – offering people a reward for their action – works better than intrinsic motivation, which relies on people doing it for the pleasure. But if you can create intrinsic enjoyment in your users, this is something that lasts and will keep your users motivated in the long term.
BFG or Fleshlumpeater?
Jake Dubbins, Managing Director at Media Bounty
Louise King, Head of Production at Media Bounty
Brands are increasingly becoming giants. But what matters is whether they choose to be good-natured giants or disingenuous ones. Consumers are willing to pay more to buy from companies promoting a positive social and environmental impact, and will be sure to find out if this is not the case. “There are very few secrets anymore,” says Jake Dubbins at Media Bounty. “It’s difficult for businesses not to act authentically.”
If you do have an authentic brand story, tell it. “If you don’t have a story, you’re just another commodity,” says Jake. Make it enticing and genuine. Look into new modes of storytelling, adds Louise King. Immersive storytelling is all about creating a compelling experience and putting the user at the heart of the story. It’s “unique and limitless” but also dependent on understanding the technology you’re using to create it. Virtual and augmented reality are closely aligned with this type of storytelling, providing a platform where the story can be about the user, rather than simply letting the user view the story.
“In this arena, we’ve got to think about producing content a bit differently. It’s all about empathy and experience. It’s about starting from the user as opposed to delivering to the user. They very much become a part of what the story is going to be about.”
Quality Content and How to Create it
Chris Woolford, Client Services Director at Search Laboratory
The rise of content marketing has shifted the search space into one in which merely building links is no longer adequate. Google’s Panda algorithm update of 2011 stated that ‘thin content with little or no added value’ would incur a penalty, and content is now valued as an indicator of a site’s authority and trustworthiness. SEO has shifted into earning links, and there’s a real opportunity for PR to have an influence.
“As a PR person, you have to be very considered with how you talk about a brand. But, in search, if you unshackle your mind away from the brand, you can actually create very successful SEO campaigns,” says Chris Woolford at Search Labs.
Being timely and topical, and targeting a specific content niche or community (even if they might not be the obvious choice for your brand) can help your content reach a highly enthusiastic audience that wants to share and interact with it. These social metrics tell Google that your content is valuable and authoritative, helping to sustain your search rankings.
Make sure your quality content sits on your site and not on an authority’s – offer up only a snippet of your content to other sites, and make sure you get a link back to the full piece. You need to plan well and take your content to the right places and, if you’re using influencers, think of innovative ways to immerse them individually in the project. To extend your reach further, consider different angles – local, regional, academic etc – that your content can take.
Standing Out From The Crowd – Four Principles of Content Marketing
Simon Heyes – Co-founder, 8 Million Stories
Are the cultural norms of clickbait and content-for-content’s-sake, which have been created by the rise of content marketing, actually nullifying the practice? For Simon Heyes at 8 Million Stories, content marketing is about having a specific strategy for your brand. “Great content is only great content to those it strikes a chord with,” he suggests. Knowing your target audience, and the type of content they like, is key.
“The human motivation to read or share something is becoming distanced from the brand’s motivation to produce a piece of content.” Even Google is now thinking in terms of ‘moments’. It’s all about tapping into the stories and emotions that resonate with your users, and becoming part of the conversation they are interested in having.
Simon offers up his four main principles of content marketing. First, immersion: consider how deep into the content or story the user can go. From there, think about interaction, and whether or not the user can become a part of the content and influence it. Next, integration – is the experience designed to work across all devices and can it be lifted out into the real world to enhance multichannel? Finally, impact. Is your content inspiring people to undertake an action?
Written by Estelle Hakner.