Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

According to Og Mandino, author of the 1968 bestseller Greatest Salesman in the World, tomorrow is only found in the calendar of fools. Turns out he was partly right, when you consider that “now” is still the only way to do business. It has also become the language of digital. But when it comes to content strategy, “tomorrow” is a future-forward language that we need to be speaking too, and it is very much in the calendar of every right-minded CMO.

You need a plan, man.

Here’s a staggering statistic: users are watching 1bn – yes 1bn  –  hours of video a day on YouTube and uploading 400 hours of video every minute. That amounts to more than six decades’ worth of content being uploaded on a single channel every 24 hours.

Gone are the days where you could knock on a door, pick up a pen and paper, make a list of cool places to advertise, throw some budget at it and know that 80% of your audience would see it, and if the price is right, 50% would probably buy.

The world doesn’t function like this any more. In the ultra-interactive world of digital you need to think about “now” and “tomorrow” – at the same time  –  and decide what you want to say, where you want to say it and what you want your audience to do:  share, like, weep, laugh or buy? Without a strategy, your content is dead in the water. And here’s why:

The long and the short of it

Content is a long-term endeavour. With content – that’s articles, videos, podcasts, infographics and blogs – you’re embarking on a journey with your consumer that builds trust and loyalty over time. When coming up with a content strategy, it’s important to remember that patience is a virtue, and even more important to have it. Don’t look at a content campaign the same way you do a Google Ad campaign, where the effect on sales is almost immediate. Content is a slow burn. The “tomorrow” factor is very much at play here.

Horses for courses

To grab attention on a social media platform, you must adapt content to your specific audience, because each audience is unique to the brands it follows. It is highly unlikely that someone will listen to a 10-minute podcast on Facebook, so rather put it up for download on SoundCloud or iTunes. For Facebook, a short, punchy video is best. Videos now gain twice the engagement of other post formats. Anything that remotely looks like an ad on Instagram will instantly be ignored. On Instagram, your best bet is aspirational content that is emotive and compelling. Want to engage Twitter users? Post relevant, fast content that is newsworthy. Quality over quantity is the mantra you want to stick to.

Consistency is key

People become diehard fans of sports teams, actors and bands because the good ones produce high-quality content on a consistent basis. Online, your brand is no different. By putting out high-quality content consistently, you build trust with your audience because they know the next post is going to be as good, or even better, than the previous one – plus, they realise these nuggets of wisdom,  humour or advice are coming through in reliable intervals. It’s like that weekly e-mail from a close friend, or the daily bit from the office comedian (who is actually really, really funny!).

The same but different

Don’t confuse consistency with “same messaging”. That’s a recipe for failure. Do not run the risk of flighting the same content over, over and over again. Social platforms will kick you out and the thumbs of your consumers will very quickly be on something else. Stay fresh; it’s a necessity.

Adapt or die

Whether you have a creative agency or not, it’s in your best interest to create a campaign that is flexible in any media space; your content should change according to your marketing platform, which is why it is important to make your digital strategy work smartly. Create content that adapts to all forms of media and marketing environments.

Not all KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are created equal

When it comes to metrics, it’s important to know what you’re trying to achieve and make sure you have a figure of what exactly “success” means to your business.

For instance, if you’re after leads (downloads) 3K likes might get your heart racing, but it won’t do much for your bottom line. The same can be said of engagement, where the metric you want to keep an eye on is shares, not heart emoticons. In terms of your sales strategy (different from your digital strategy, remember?) success is measured in, yes, good old sales numbers. Thank you Og.

A world within a world 

If you’ve done it right, your brand is a world created by storytelling and various other marketing techniques. One of the amazing things about digital is that your brand sits in the middle of everything, and you’re able to tell your story through a variety of touch points (of which content is just one). It’s called “storyscaping” – a term coined by the concept’s creators – and it makes your brand work harder, smarter and interactively.

Your digital strategy may take up more than one whiteboard, and more than one task pane on the budget sheet – but the effort is well worth it.

We’re way past “hit and hope, click and pray”-type marketing. Targeted, tactical digital strategies are the make-or-break of any business; it’s more important than ever to cross your T’s and dot your KPI’s, if you’re planning on making a thumb-stopping impression – today and tomorrow.

• Darren Mansour is the founder of So Interactive. The company was recently recognised for Mobile Excellence 2018 by  Awwwards, the first SA agency to receive this. 

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