From Adobe to American Express, brands are starting to realise the power of content hubs. In fact, brands are projected to spend over US$118 billion on content marketing this year, proving it to be a substantial portion of overall marketing efforts.
For brands, producing content has gone past the intention of selling products. The key to great content hubs is providing value to readers, not shoving “10 reasons why you should buy my product” down their throats. Instead, content that educates readers about your industry or how to improve their lives through engaging stories become driving factors to success.
American Express does this really well by providing readers with the latest news in the industry, tips and tricks as well as thought leadership pieces on everything from business development to managing team members. The result of their efforts is a community of grateful and engaged readers that trusts their brand.
Yet many businesses struggle with this idea. In a world driven by numbers and results, it can be difficult to justify spending money to produce and host content. The short-term results of content hubs tend to demoralise those who have braved the unknown. It can be tempting to abandon ship over low share numbers and engagement, but while marketers seem to flaunt their tremendous successes, few go into the fact that it takes time and a lot of effort.
It’s a marathon
Content hubs play a long game, one where you will lose countless battles before achieving absolute success. It takes time to build good readership, to experiment and plan what content works. It takes talent and insight to produce unique and engaging stories readers will engage in. Every site starts off with zero shares, some of them get stuck at single or double digits for years before they take off.
Here’s an example, Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, started out his digital marketing career with content for his family-owned wine store. Dubbed Wine Library TV, the channel focuses on reviewing wines and talking to guests from the wine industry. Here’s a screenshot I grabbed off YouTube featuring some statistics of the very first episode:
As you can see, it took this video 7 years to break past 100 views! It’s slow growth, but it’s the nature of the business. Of course, there are other factors that could have contributed to slow growth. Mobile wasn’t as prevalent 7 years ago and YouTube was the new kid on the block. But success in content marketing doesn’t happen overnight or even over a year, especially if you’re in a niche industry.Here’s a screenshot of the latest episode:
Here’s a screenshot of the latest episode:
1,000 episodes in, Gary’s videos now reach over 50,000 views easily! Content pays off, but patience, perseverance and being flexible with it are fundamental to success.
It’s not all about the numbers
Photo by Thomas Angermann
Those numbers seem really nice, but let’s not get too carried away. Unless the goal of your campaign is to amass as many views as possible, it means nothing. What’s more important is how many of your fans are returning the favour.
It’s easy to throw up your number of Facebook followers or article shares. What we’re more interested in, is how many of them are buying your product. It’s a common mistake for many people to judge the success of a piece of content by shares, likes and page views alone. But numbers like how many people are subscribing to our e-mail list? How many readers are discovering our product through the content? How many readers are following up with us? Those are far more important to take note of.
A large following is great, and you should dedicate some effort to build it. After all, it means you can get more leads and more people are going to gain value from you. It provides some context to your success. But these numbers should grow naturally, and your efforts should be more focused on other things like producing great content.
It’s about engagement
Photo by Ben Smith
As a content creator, I am extremely grateful for readers that spend time and manage to get some value out of what I write. Yes, that means you, thank you! If you want a community, you have to engage. Understand and communicate with readers of your work.
That means answering Facebook comments, liking posts, and if your readers have their own content, engaging in that yourself. Engagement shouldn’t just be limited to your readers either. Your contributors or influencers should also be a source of engagement. Commenting or adding your point of view to the content of your readers is a great way to build rapport and engage with other communities. Being thankful and sending a note or card to contributors also keeps them happy, and keeps them coming back.
It’s not cheap
Photo by Pexels
Producing good content comes at a price. Original insight requires experience and a creative mind, and these don’t come cheap.
On the contrary, creating stale content, content void of original thought, or which your readers have already read and seen, will waste your readers’ time and rob them of the precious minutes they spend consuming your content.
Original content, on the other hand, sets your hub apart and establishes you as a thought leader and a respected authority in your industry. In the end, you pay for what you get. You can’t scrimp when it comes to quality content.
You need a dedicated team
Creating or even managing content is a lot of work. Conceptualising ideas, planning schedules, editing and tracking are just some of the elements that drive content hubs. Think of your content hub as an online magazine, except that you publish it every day.
Be prepared to spend a lot of time. It’s not something a marketing manager or intern can spend a couple of hours a week on. It’s an intense commitment, and content hubs need to produce content consistently to stay relevant.
Starting a content hub can be very rewarding, but you’ll have to be sure if you are committed to putting in the time, effort, money and above all, be patient.
Excel in Content Marketing
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