Content and Artificial Intelligence

AI is the talk of the town. Is it ready to be implemented in your content marketing strategy?

These past few years, artificial intelligence has been a big trend in anything digital.

How will it impact content strategies and content creation?

We’ve started seeing ventures into AI writing articles but we’re not there just yet. This is something that for a certain time will still need a strong human touch. Same goes for video scripts and photography (of course).

But in all tasks that make a successful content strategy and content marketing program, what are those that can be helped with the use of AI?

A MarTechSeries article by Abhishek Talreja does a great job in showing examples where AI, in 2020, can assist some of the roles in your content marketing team.

From optimizing conversion to landing page analysis, along with personalized content distribution, the article shows how existing platforms like Atomic Reach, Curata, Adobe Spark, Keywee, ContentStudio and Rasa.io are currently building tools that leverage AI to help content marketing team members.

AI, in the short-term, can be of great help to manage large datasets, automate repetitive and/or manual tasks (think about all those A/B tests you’ve always wanted to deploy and analyze).

AI will not create content for you, but it can help alleviate your calendar so that you can spend more time creating allthat great, engaging content.

Want to explore which tools your content program could benefit from? Contact an expert at Toast and schedule a consultation with our experts today.

The Future of Content Marketing

Joe Pulizzi has been at the forefront of content marketing in the past 10 years, and has 7 laws for what content marketers need to think about in the next 10 years.

Content marketing has existed for decades, if not more than a century now.

But in the past 10 years, things have changed and evolved at an extremely high pace. Digital and social media are the key drivers behind this, along with the changes they’ve brought to consumer behaviour.

In that time, Joe Pulizzi has positioned himself, as the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, as a great thinker on the subject, with a keen eye on the current state of things, but also on where we are going as an industry.

In his 2019 Content Marketing World keynote, he revealed a list of 7 laws that are at the core of what will make content marketing programs successful in the next 10 years.

Of those, many have slowly been building up in the past 10 years, but are now so true that any content marketer needs to consider them and adjust their thinking on governance, revenue and beliefs.

Here is the gist of the 7 laws he describes:

  1. Always be selling internally.
  2. Plan for multiple lines of revenue.
  3. Buy before you build.
  4. Do one thing great.
  5. Stay away from content campaigns.
  6. Plan for the end of social.
  7. Have conviction in the practice.

I strongly invite you, as a marketer and content enthusiast, to read the full article or watch the 18-minute keynote.

It is a deep dive into the foundations of content marketing, where we come from, but most importantly, where we need to head.

If you would like to discuss the future your content marketing program with us let us know and schedule a consultation with our experts at Toast today.

Too much content to publish? 5 ways to prioritize

Many internal customers in your company? A lot of potential content to publish?

The reality is that increasingly, we are building libraries of ideas and content that are quite large, and at some point it can become difficult to decide what should be published, promoted or amplified.

Or maybe you are in a situation where you find yourself being the content focal point in your company and demands are coming from left and right, leading you to a situation where it is difficult to know what to prioritize.

In these situations, you need to have a pre-established method, agreed between the stakeholders, that defines how you can make an informed decision about the next content to be produced or published.

There are a very large number of methods to prioritize and support the decision-making process in organizations, but here are 5 of them:

  1. RICE
  2. MoSCoW
  3. Bubble sorting and stack ranking
  4. Dot voting
  5. Five Whys

How is each one articulated, how can it be used? An article published by GatherContent defines them one by one. I invite you to read it, perhaps making a choice from among them or continuing your research to find the right method for your organization.

One thing is for sure, having (and communicating it!) a prioritization method is key in a content strategy, especially in contexts where the volume of ideas or “orders” from stakeholders is large.

Would you like to discuss the tools in your content strategy? Let us know and schedule a consultation with our experts at Toast today.

Real Time Marketing: The Ultimate Guide

Your brand needs to look beyond organic reach and use real time marketing to actively monitor and engage with its audience.

More and more people are signalling the death of organic reach on social media.

Facebook has announced to some large brands and holding companies that organic reach might be coming to an end and that they should prepare for it. There have been some active discussions here in Canada and the US about how this could affect an entire industry of community managers and social media companies. Facebook has published an article explaining that they are testing various ways to manage organic reach for brands in certain countries, and that it is not a formal announcement that this might be rolled out globally anytime soon.

But let me be frank about it. I think these tests will prove relevant and that at some point, no brand will be able to reach your newsfeed in either Facebook, Instagram or maybe even Twitter without paying for it.

And you should be prepared.

A brand posting 2 posts per day, 7 days a week: this is an era that might coming to an end.

This is where real time marketing comes in.

What is real time marketing?

Real time marketing is the notion that your brand must be listening at all times and have processes to deal with content opportunities in near real time.

This does not mean having someone “on call” to manage customer comments on Facebook or the rare tweet that asks you a question.

It is the notion of actively monitoring social media and the web for opportunities where your brand can engage one-on-one or onboard a global conversation/trend.

The 3 pillars of real time marketing

At Toast we split our approach, developed in part by Sandy Suissa (account services director), to real time marketing into three distinct pillars:

  1. Global & Local Trends
  2. Needs & Requests
  3. Instant Opportunities

The next 3 sections will describe each pillar.

Global & Local Trends

Whether you are a CPG or a retailer, monitoring global and local trends is key into finding when and where your brand can participate or have its voice heard.

Is there a new series of viral videos generated by users that your brand should also participate in? Think, for example, when the Ice Bucket Challenge was all the rage. It was a definite global trend and not only did individuals take the challenge on, many brands also did. Was it always a good idea? No.

When seeing a trend rising, brands should ask themselves if they should jump on it or let it fade away without getting into it. It will not always be easy to make that decision. Sometimes, very large trends might create great traction for the brand if it is well executed, but it also can backfire quickly and seem opportunistic.

The same is true on a local level. If you are a retailer that has points of sale in various communities, you want to be able to monitor what is happening in these very local, smaller locations. There might be a great contribution that your brand can make on a local level.

In 2014, a user post on Reddit triggered a great number of responses and coverage. A man had bought airplane tickets to go around the world with his girlfriend, but they ended up splitting up before their grand voyage. He was then stuck with tickets for himself and an “Elizabeth Gallagher”. He set out to find another “Elizabeth Gallagher” on the Internet to join him. And it worked. Many Elizabeths applied and he chose one. Where trends monitoring comes in is that Marriott, the hotel chain, saw this hot topic and decided to offer 2-room hotel stays around the world for the two travellers. It became a great example of a brand monitoring for trends and seeing how (and if in relevant fashion) it could participate.

Needs & Requests

Is your brand monitoring for questions or expressions of needs or intent on social media, coming from an individual that might be in your market?

If you are a chain of pizza restaurants that offer delivery (or not) for example, are you monitoring discussions around your locations so that you can catch people that might be in the market for a meal? On a larger scale, this can be extremely interesting and a great way to engage with potential new customers.

Now expand this idea to your own vertical. Are there specific keywords, phrases or other elements that you can monitor and listen to that would allow you to establish with some level of certainty that this person is in the market for what you offer?

Listening for needs & requests can be a great way to make your brand more human, accessible and in touch with its current and future customer base.

The Marriott group of hotel chains implemented a system that monitors any public social media post that individuals make in or near its hotels. This means that if someone is on the rooftop terrace enjoying themselves by the pool and posting a public Instagram photo, the hotel manager will be notified and will be able to send them a bottle of champagne so that the customer’s experience becomes an even more memorable one. And they actually do it. And it drives these customers’ satisfaction through the roof.

Same thing can be done with people complaining or commenting on an issue they are having with your product.

Can you brand do this?

Instant Opportunities

Remember when the electricity went out during the Super Bowl in 2013? The power went out in the Superdome during the game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Oreo jumped on the opportunity, and tweeted this while the game had to be put on hold:

Think about it. In about 30 minutes, the brand marketers were able to go through their entire creative/approval process and tweet what is now a key tweet in Twitter history.

Can your brand do this?

Is your brand in touch with what is happening RIGHT NOW so that it could react if it is relevant?

Is your brand following large scale events like the Super Bowl, the Oscars or any other big event in your market around the world?

Many (many) brands are not.

It is fairly easy to set up, but not as easy to implement. It requires flexibility and trust on the part of the brand as things will need to move fast if an opportunity comes up.

How to implement real time marketing

Brand command centres

Implementing real time marketing for your brand is not a case of asking your community managers to keep their eyes on their cellphones 24/7 and report back if anything pops up.

It needs to be more robust than this.

There are multiple ways they can be set up, but most often they become a physical place or set of workstations in  your offices that are dedicated to this, where all monitoring happens.

When you fully build it, it can look something like this. This is one of Marriot’s multiple M Live locations around the world:

Multiple tools are integrated so that monitoring and reacting can be as simple as possible.

Tools like Hyp3r (monitoring social media posts in multiple physical locations), Sysomos (listening to public conversations, looking for intent, keywords or phrases) and Tickr (making all tools talk to each other and digesting large chunks of data into readable and actionable insights) are examples of what a brand might use to build its own version of the brand command centre.

You can also build one at a much smaller scale with tools like Feedly (monitoring websites and the media), Hootsuite (monitoring social media for specific keywords, emotions, even intent), Google Alerts (monitors the Google index for keywords, phrases and more in near real time and alerts you) and Klipfolio (to build dashboards to integrate with your analytics and measurement tools).

Content agencies like Toast also work with brands in offering them the possibility to have us add their brand to the command centre built at our offices, allowing for a smaller scale, staffed solution to their real time marketing needs.

Processes

Listening and detecting opportunities is great, but can you act on it?

Is your brand ready to build processes that will allow it to react within minutes (sometimes) to a global trend or a local customer that has expressed a need?

Processes need to be built, tested and implemented. This is not the easiest part, but without it, no brand command centre will survive its first 12 months. Frustration and anger will set in and nothing will come out of it.

So if you are planning on getting on board with this, be ready to have your agencies, your internal marketing teams and your customer support representatives in the know about the program, its processes and the various workflows it requires.

Are you curious and would like to discuss building a brand command centre for your brand?

So after reading all this, is this something that could interest you or your brand executives?

Be sure to reach out to us to discuss this further and explore what form a brand command centre could take for your brand.

The Ultimate Guide to Content Studios for Brands: From Why to ROI

It’s no secret that interruptive marketing doesn’t work like it used to.

Consumers now control when, where, and how they interact with brands.

Brands need to stop interrupting what consumers are interested in and start becoming what they’re interested in.

If consumers don’t want their entertainment interrupted with traditional advertising then the advertising must become the entertainment.

Consumers want stories. We believe that they don’t care who it comes from as long as it’s entertaining, informative and it creates an emotion. That’s what a great story does, isn’t it? It makes you feel something.

Brands who engage consumers with story-driven creative and content will ultimately win the most valuable prize there is — brand loyalty.

And the industry agrees with us — it seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry has a content studio now. Content studios are the new shiny object brands are chasing, but few know why, how they should be set up, what they should produce, who to hire, and most importantly how to measure ROI.

David Beebe, executive producer at Toast, has spent his career in storytelling for media companies, production companies, publishers, and brands — and he’s founded and led global content studios that successfully developed, produced, and distributed content that won the hearts, minds, and wallets of consumers — and in many cases transformed marketing from a cost centre to a revenue centre — all the while owning the intellectual property.

In our upcoming webinar, David will to take you inside all the different content studio models and everything you need to know about them. He’ll share insights based on his real world experience. You’ll fully understand which one is right for you.

Here are the top 7 types of Content Studios. There are many different opinions on which is the right way to go — especially for brands — and many of the opinions are self-centred because the person has an agenda. We will share all sides — good and bad — of all the different models on the webinar.

1. In-House Brand Content Studios

Red Bull was the first, but many brands have followed suit with an in-house brand content studio, from Pepsi to Sprint to Unilever to Marriott — which David founded. In-house content studios typically are charged with developing, producing, and distributing branded content of all types for the brand or brands itself. Sometimes that means creative development in-house, with production out of house, and ten other scenarios. The point is that the brand has invested in an in-house team to lead story driven creative and content. The financial models vary. We’ll dive into those, too.

2. Production Company Content Studios

There are way too many to list. These are third-party independent production companies that focus on creatively and strategically developing branded content. The typical model is to develop ideas and then pitch brands concepts. The brand pays the production company to produce the content. We will walk through the various scenarios.

3. Advertising Agencies and Strategic Consultancies

Think of everyone from media agencies from MEC to advertising agencies like GREY, to traditional consultant agencies like Accenture and digital marketing agencies. That’s right — everyone is getting in on the game. They all provide a variety of services from creative to strategic to production services.

4. Publishers

Think New York Times and their T Brand Studios to Vice to Conde Nast. Almost every publisher has a content studio. The content tends to be native advertising, using their built-in publications and platforms to drive engagement. Sometimes it’s truly original content.

5. Media Companies from Networks to Broadcasters to Cable Channels

Television networks tend to develop derivative content of their existing shows. David Beebe founded and led the Disney/ABC Television Group Content Studio, where they developed webisodes for shows like Grey’s Anatomy, LOST, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty and then sold integrations to advertisers. That’s still happening. Cable channels like CNN are developing original content for brands and using their on-air and online channels for distribution.

6. Platforms

Social networking platforms from Facebook to Snapchat to Instagram have built in-house content studio teams to develop original content of all types for brands.

7. Influencer Content and MCN’s

And then there are the MCN’s like Fullscreen’s Brandworks to Studio 71 and, of course, the influencers themselves all having content studios.

And there are a couple more of models that exist.

The good news is that technology has enabled everyone to create content and connect directly to the consumer, their fans, or their friends. The bad news is that everyone is a content creator. There’s a lot of great content out there but there’s also a lot of bad content out there — backed by strategies that have been developed by so called “branded content experts” that have latched on to the new shiny object yet have little to no experience in creating content that engages audiences. 

In a world where everyone is a content creator, content is no longer king — the consumer is.

10×1 Content Marketing: The Ultimate Guide

We all want to produce more and better content. That’s a fact.

In this article we explain how, with a simple approach called 10×1, you can leverage your premium content assets in a better way.

Marketers want to produce more content

Producing more content is often at the core of the challenges marketers face. According to a recent Content Marketing Institute research, 70% of B2B marketers and 73% of B2C marketers plan on producing more content in the coming year.

But even though we know this, it doesn’t mean that there will be that much more money available in those content marketing budgets.

So how can you leverage your existing budget to produce more content?

This is where we usually introduce the 10×1 approach to our clients.

What is 10×1 content marketing

This approach means that for each piece of content you produce, you should be planning to be able to create 10 extra pieces directly from it, almost based on the same budget.

When you invest money into a good piece of content, you should always think how it could be leveraged on all your platforms, and through time.

Leveraging platforms with 10×1

Let’s say you are producing a video asset, investing a decent amount of money for the production and getting a high-quality deliverable. You plan on putting this video natively on Facebook, but also publishing it on your YouTube channel.

But how will people know about it if they follow you on Instagram? And on your own website, have you planned to simply embed it on an empty page (or worse, put it in your “Videos” section…!).

Right off the bat, when planning production day, you should be thinking about all the other touchpoints your brand has with its audience and figuring out how your production can “live” on those platforms.

Should you shoot a quick 15-second excerpt for Instagram while the crew is on set? (it would cost you close to nothing)

Should you have a journalist on set to draft an article, or will you be preparing a transcript of your video so that it can also live as a 2,000-word blog post? Or maybe you will even choose a different video director, knowing that this other person can also write a great essay on the subject?

Leveraging platforms requires planning.

It cannot happen after you’ve finished editing your video and wonder how you will promote it.

At Toast, we often brief video crews on what collateral content they should produce while on set. It can be pictures, behind-the-scenes material, a quick audio interview, shooting something with their phones, etc.

And all this can come in cheap, but only if it’s planned.

In short, plan to create 10 pieces of content from that single production you are preparing.

From a blog post or a video production, there is a multitude of formats you can create. Here is a list we sometimes use just as a quick reminder of everything we could consider (and that’s not everything of course):

  • Listicles
  • Memes
  • Loops, boomerangs
  • GIFs
  • Short videos
  • Picture-story
  • Events
  • Articles
  • Quizzes
  • 360-degrees videos or photos
  • Quotes
  • Infographics
  • Charts
  • Social take-overs
  • Fast-facts
  • Q&A / Interviews
  • How-to’s
  • Content curation on the same subject
  • Instagram/Snapchat stories
  • User generated content
  • Facebook/YouTube/Twitter live

 

Leveraging time with 10×1

As you know, content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.

And you should also be leveraging your content assets through time.

Some content is time sensitive, but as much as possible, you should always find a way to make it live longer, to be evergreen even.

And plan to promote it for a longer period.

“Too often, marketers expect quick results from content marketing, but it simply doesn’t work that way. In a metaphor borrowed from Chris Moritz, associate director of customer experience strategy at MRM//McCann, content marketing is like your 401(k) plan. No one should expect great 401(k) results at the beginning; rather, they should see the returns increase over time because of the compounded growth. Of course, if you want to see bigger returns faster, you can invest more at the beginning. In content marketing, quicker returns means paying to promote your best content to build an audience.” (source: CMI)

Very often, you write a blog post and start sharing it, promoting it, sending it to your subscribers and followers. And then you write a new blog post, and that first one stops being promoted, it almost disappears from your radar (and your audience’s!).

If you invest money into producing content, it should be promoted for a decent amount of time.

How can the 10 pieces of content you will create off that initial production live through time? Can you plan multiple assets that will allow you to promote that same blog post, for example, but without always using the same collateral?

By creating useful content assets that will live through time, you are setting yourself up for the long tail, one of the keys in the success of content marketing.

The importance of making all 10 pieces of content useful

Just creating more pieces of content that only drive your audience from where they are to your video or blog post isn’t 10×1. It’s content promotion, it’s a form of advertising.

And 10×1 is not the same thing.

The idea behind 10×1 is that each additional content you create from your production needs to be able to live by itself. It needs to bring value to your audience, where they are, at that moment. It has to take context into account and find a way to be useful to your followers, your fans, your ambassadors.

And you know how it works. If they find it useful, there is a better chance they will share it and spread it.

And that’s where 10×1 does its magic.

From one production, one research document, you are able to bring value to more people, for a longer period of time.

How about 100×1 ?

If you plan on creating 10 pieces of content from one single production, why not 100?

Although 100 might be a little too much, one entrepreneur actually does this in her own way.

Chalene Johnson produces most of her content directly off her Facebook Live broadcasts.

She leverages her audience in live Q&A’s, but also feeds off these questions to create additional content like Instagram posts, her team will also create an audio version and publish it as a podcast, transcribe it to be published as blog posts, and she tweets quotes from the initial video (sometimes hundreds!).

How 10×1 impacts your content marketing budget

By planning ahead and getting 10×1 flowing into your veins, your budget will not be impacted that much, but your editorial calendar will.

It means more content at your disposal throughout the month.

It means less repetition in what you publish when promoting a specific premium asset.

But what it does is that it allows you to keep budgets available to more premium pieces. While in the past, you might sprinkle your budget over the year in order to make sure you have fresh content at all times, you end up spending on multiple medium-level production throughout the year. What if you could do one great production every month, or every two months, but thanks to the 10×1 approach, have content that will carry you between each release.

This is how 10×1 actually helps you better manage your marketing budget and give you wiggle room to produce better content that you might not have had the budget for before.

In summary

  • Over 70% of marketers plan on producing more content over the next year.
  • The 10×1 approach requires that you plan ahead, making sure you will be able to create 10 additional pieces of content whenever you plan on investing a decent amount on a production.
  • This approach allows you to produce more premium content pieces, thanks to all the collateral assets you will be able to use.
  • 10×1 makes your budget work in a different way, allowing for better premium pieces.

32 simple questions to boost your content production

Say you want to produce more content, or even just get started. Where do you begin? Here’s a list worth bookmarking!

1. Where do you see yourself in one year? Can you try to reach that in one month? If so, how?

We’re drawing inspiration from the famous saying of investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel: “How can you achieve your 10-year plan in the next 6 months?”

2. Am I placing too much importance on the results of my content rather than on my sales?

Of course you need data and a sales funnel—but in the end, the most important figure is still your return on investment.

3. Where can you capture the attention of your audience for a ridiculously low price?

We’re all in the business of vying for people’s attention. Where can you buy attention at the lowest price for maximum return on investment? You might be surprised.

4. Where is your audience every day?

Are they going to Tim Hortons every day? Are they on Facebook all day? Do they always need to search for the same information online? You have to identify a distinctive element or pattern in their behaviour and help or accompany them in their daily life.

5. If you were your competitor, what would you do right now to steal your customers?

It’s better that you try to compete with yourself rather than letting your competitor do it.

6. What if, instead of finding one good idea, you looked for 50 average ones?

If you often get blocked by trying to find the One Idea to rule them all, lowering your expectations could show you other paths to your goal.

7. Is there a shortcut—a hack—that would let you reach all your potential customers in one fell swoop?

For example, what if, instead of targeting all of your 100,000 potential customers, you targeted your product dealers so they’ll recommend your product instead of the competition?

8. What information about your industry is a given for you but a surprise to your customers?

What interests and engages your audience is sometimes right there, in front of you.

9. What is the most counterintuitive idea you could have to produce content?

Doing the opposite of what you’ve always done or thought was right can often take you out of your comfort zone!

10. What internal rules could you break to simplify your content production?

What is the greatest barrier to the success of your content? Internal guidelines and standards are often too strict and hinder agility.

11. If someone documented your daily life, what would be the highlights for your audience?

What happens behind the scenes, in meetings, at your plant or elsewhere can be interesting, surprising or entertaining for your audience.

12. What partnership could you enter into right away that would change the dynamics of your content production?

Turning to our close collaborators will often produce an ally, whether it’s for sharing content or creating guest content, for example.

13. What is the quickest and easiest step you could take right now to make the rest of your content production work easier?

Is it leaving an old cellphone lying around the cafeteria so employees can post photos to your company’s Instagram account? Or recording the weekly speech of your most inspirational department manager and have it transcribed into an article afterwards?

14. What are the easiest and freest steps you could take right now? (make a list)

There are surely things you could do right away using just five minutes of your time. Get on it!

15. What is the most useful thing you could tell your audience right away?

It might be something that seems obvious to you, but isn’t for your audience.

16. If you had all the resources in the world, what’s the first thing you would do in terms of content production? Now, try to do it with the resources you have!

Fake it till you make it! But seriously, you don’t need a 4K camera or a drone.

17. What content gets you the most return on your investment? Would you be able to reproduce it 10X?

There must have been a striking piece of content in the last few months that stood out by its results. What was it? Could it be reproduced quickly and exponentially?

18. If you had to give your audience a crash course on your industry, how would you do it in a tweet, a status update, a photo or an article?

You can say the same thing in different ways, depending on the platform and media.

19. What content can you recycle?

It’s not about repeating content, but transforming it for another platform. For example, an article can become four or five photos or a few Facebook status updates. You should also take the time to update the information when you reuse content.

20. What kind of content do your competitors produce, and what could you do better?

If you don’t know, monitor the competition to find out.

21. What content have your competitors not yet produced?

By keeping an eye on what others are doing, you can do even better and answer questions they haven’t addressed!

22. Who could you interview right away?

Does one of your colleagues have an interesting story? Interview them!

23. Who in your company is the best at communicating with customers?

There’s surely a content champion just waiting to be asked to contribute.

24. What subject most interests your audience that has nothing to do with your company (e.g., yoga or golf)?

You might be surprised to learn that what you have in common with your audience isn’t always your product, but sometimes a completely different and seemingly unrelated subject.

25. What perception of your brand do you want to change?

By auditing the perceptions of others, you can easily discover issues and work to change that perception.

26. What essential information does your audience need before making a transaction?

If you had to choose just one piece of important information, what would it be?

27. What is the best free advice you could give your audience?

In the new content economy, free advice isn’t a plus, but a priority.

28. And if your customers were going at it alone without your help, what advice would you give them?

In our case, we wrote this article!

29. What question comes up most often? Could you create an FAQ section or write a series of articles about it?

Creating an FAQ section allows you to go more in depth and to make updates and changes as necessary down the line.

30. What important questions do your customers never ask?

Customers don’t have all the information, and they certainly don’t always ask the right questions.

31. What have you learned about your work and field of expertise recently? Could you explain it quickly and easily?

We learn something new every day, even if that something is small. If you share your new knowledge, your audience will recognize that you are up to date on new practices and methods in your industry.

32. Is there a company similar to yours in another market? Can you talk about it?

At Toast, we take inspiration from big agencies and brands around the world and their content practices. You could do the same thing, and maybe even build some new connections.

Content marketing: Quality vs Length

The length of your content might not be as important a factor as we thought.

If you’ve never stumbled upon an episode of the “Here’s Why” series by Stone Temple Consulting, this will be your first contact with a quite unique approach where, in the introduction of each episode, the partners get dressed (!) and play out a skit on the subject of the day.

This time, in episode #98, we are greeted by Napoleon and Abraham Lincoln in a sketch on the quality and length of the content that your brand publishes. (In episode #97, it was all about the universe of Star Trek…!) 🙂

So the question of the day is all about the importance of the length of the content you publish (focusing on written copy) in correlation with the importance of the quality of that same content.

Of course, you will have guessed, quality is the aspect that wins the match here.

The video explains a rule of thumb you can use to evaluate if your content is of quality. You should ask yourself 3 questions when planning content production:

  1. Is it useful and relevant for my target audience?
  2. Is it aligned with my business objectives?
  3. Does it stand out in its topic?

If the subject gets you fired up and interested, I suggest you take 6 minutes and watch this episode of “Here’s Why”. It is as entertaining as it is interesting!

Agile content marketing: Create twice the content in half the time

77% of B2C marketers plan to produce more content this year, yet 46% are already struggling with creating content at a consistent rate.

Don’t you think the statistic above is puzzling? Or does this mean that a whole lot of content marketers will be changing their approach to production to be able to meet their objectives? This sounds like a recipe for low-quality content.

Producing content at a consistent rate is not easy if you do not have a documented content strategy and a process that facilitates the workflow between creation and publication. (Working with a content agency can help a LOT on both fronts!) ?

Andrea Fryrear wrote a great article on agile marketing and how it can help content marketers create more quality content, with an approach that “protects” content creators and allows them to release new content on a consistent basis.

She explains how agile methods helped her write over 200 articles in 2015 and keep her focused on realistic and attainable writing goals.

Agile project management is a framework that works in short, iterative bursts (also called sprints) of production. The article explains it in more details and also links to great resources.

To start using an agile approach with a content marketing team, here’s what you need:

  1. A prioritized backlog. Everyone involved, from content creators themselves to stakeholders have to agree on what needs to be done before anything begins.
  2. Some sort of tracking board. This can be real or virtual, but this is where everyone can view what is being worked on, what’s coming up in this iteration, etc.
  3. A working agreement for your agile experiment. This must be the most important part. Content creators must be empowered to tell their bosses and colleagues, “Not yet” when they come to them with work that’s not part of their current commitment. This can seem scary, but it is essential.

If you want to learn more about agile marketing, I strongly invite you to read the full article, over at Digital Marketer, it explains in more detail what is agile marketing and how you can implement it with your marketing team.

Live content: how to validate and factcheck

What can we learn from large media corporations when publishing live content?

With all that buzz about live video, we could be tempted to think of it as if it was a new thing, but it’s not, of course. Big media has been doing this for decades and have made it a form of art.

It’s during those large, live events that you can really admire what live content creation involves.

Last week, a lot of us watched the first live presidential debate in the United States, and it’s always a rendez-vous for fact-checkers and researchers to work on what each candidate says.

I found the methodology used by NPR for validating and fact checking very interesting. Live (or with a couple minutes’ delay at the most), they were able to publish a verbatim of the debate, complete with annotations and journalistic verifications.

How did they do it? You can discover the magic behind this in a Nieman Journalism Lab article:

  • They used the live closed-captioning feed;
  • They had about 50 reporters, research specialists, visual editors, copyeditors, etc.;
  • One Google Docs file.

Of course not all live content creation or video feed your brand puts out needs such a rigorous process, but it can be interesting to see how a large media group used the tools at their disposal (tools you also have access to) to generate live content, as fast as possible, but also as true as possible.