One of the fundamentals of comms2point0.co.uk is to provide a place for the comms community to share and learn. This new post does just that. And then some.
by Simon Swan
More organisations are finding themselves operating in ever competitive sectors being disrupted by ever more leaner emerging brands.
One key area that they can play to the strength of an organisation is to start to look inside the brand i.e. its purpose, its reason for existing and the opportunity to use this as a platform to create a point of difference through digital channels.
For example, an organisation’s history and background is a valuable asset in how they are perceived to a wider audience and which can be used to its advantage.
This provides an opportunity for brands to become knowledge centres, re-inventing themselves as the go-to authority for their sector.
A good example of this is National Geographic and their innovative use of Social media, particularly their use of Instagram – It’s a great example of an established brand, playing to their strengths, what they stand for as a global authority and at the same time, working and collaborating with their followers, journalists and photographers to promote great content through their branded social channels.
What National Geographic have realised is that through their innovative use of social media, why not engage with their army of photographers to help drive brand engagement, formed as a partnership.
They’ve understood the importance of not hyping endless, mind-numbing content but providing something that’s useful, enlightening and relevant – what better way to work out what content that resonates by working with your own audience.
Organisations could be re-inventing themselves as knowledge centres, a strategy supported by author of the book Ctrl, Alt, Delete, Mitch Joel, who said:
“many brands fail to realise that the branding opportunity is not of broadcasting the messages but that the true marketing story is to tell a great brand narrative, a story that takes place over time and through different channels”.
An organisation that exemplifies trust provides the user with an affinity and helps to build a relationship by engaging with the consumer’s emotions through imaginative associations such as user-generated content, syndication or influencer marketing i.e. working with trusted partners and supporters of the organisation.
Rather than controlling media content and its perception, instead focus on becoming more transparent and seek to build engagement, credibility and collaboration with your users.
We’re seeing content factories being established and with it endless streams of content being churned out, pushed and promoted through whatever digital channel possible in the hope some of this will convert by brands following the competition.
Brands should want to create content that drives affinity, emotion, knowledge and conversion by building their own authority and trust, to become knowledge centres, becoming the go-to authority for their sector. Put simply, know your audience
But to bring the idea to life requires a framework that positions the organisation to adapt its approach. The below is a 6 step framework your organisation could consider using along with some insights into tools to assist:
Audit Your Platforms
You should look to audit the digital platforms used by your organisation that interacts with users. A deep audit should be considered for each platform (e.g. mobile, desktop, app) such as “channel” health and the tactics used to enhance the brand through the digital marketing mix: search, social media, syndication, email marketing, influencer marketing for example. Uncover your current position as well as opportunities to consider to further enhance your channels.
Tools to use…
Screaming Frog: SEO Spider that crawls websites, links, images to evaluate and issues of concerns that should be addressed
Google Search Console: A free service provided by Google that allows you to check indexing status of your website to help optimise the visibility of your site within the search engine.
Emerging channels such as virtual assistance and voice search should also be taken into account when conducting the audit and how your brand is equipped for future disruption.
Know your audience
Every digital strategy or plan needs to start with your audience, you can’t build a strategy without knowing who you audience is and this requires a framework to build our customer personas
Understand and build awareness of your audience, your customers and focus on building engagement and collaboration with your audience through persona creation.
Persona creation also helps to get buy-in across your organisation in helping to paint a picture and bring to life your customer profiles.
By understanding your audience, it helps brands to align their proposition to what their customers really want, through what platform and what digital channel. This exercise is a great way to build relationships across your organisation, to understand the types of audiences your organisation is attracting/or wanting to attract.
A mistake many organisations do is to build our a persona description of their “ideal customer” and leave it there. Don’t make this mistake and instead from understanding the persona, begin to build a relationship and interview these audiences to really understand their motivations, wants and needs
Tools to use…
Your organisation buy-in – Bring together a cross office team to help research and ask internally who are audience is and why?
Google Analytics – Provides insights into the demographics of the users to your site
Twitter Analytics – Provides insights also into the demographics and basic understandings of your followers
Define Your USP
Do you have a unique selling point at the heart of your digital strategy? What is your point of difference? A reason for existing and what do you provide your audience, your market sector that is different from other brands operating in the same sector?
But to do this successfully requires the brand to think differently about their market-place, the situation they are competing in and rather start to think laterally, to create new, uncontested market places rather than competing against the same competitors, this framework is known as blue ocean strategy.
Created by W. Chan. Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy suggests an organisation should look to create a new demand in an uncontested market space. The opposite to the Blue Ocean is the Red Ocean, which is where the existing competition is fighting it out for market share with one another.
Building Authority & Trust
Are you informing and delighting your audience by telling a great brand narrative through the content you’re delivering and you have embraced digital tactics for users to find and consume your information? A brand needs active and engaging social channels and good customer support through the customer channel of choice.
A 2015 Searchmetrics report which assesses search ranking factors and the latest insights regarding the most important factors, suggests there is an opportunity for brands to drive their content marketing efforts around expanding their domain authority and reputation for associated content within their industry sector.
Building a Narrative
Are you engaging in conversations through social media channels with your audience and are you building direct relationships with your customers and audience giving your brand a personality and a human element to your proposition and online reputation?
Tools to use…
Search console – This free tool from Google provides you with access to search analytics in the types of keywords as well as best performing content pages through search. From this information, you can use this to architect the type of content that is appealing to your users and begin to build out similar content topics armed with this data analytics
Answer The Public – From the insights of Search console, you can plus the keyword data into Answer the Public, which is a keyword tool that provides you with further opportunities to create content themes users search for
Keyword Planner – Another free tool from Google is Keyword planner, part of their adwords package. Although geared for paid search, this provides you with plenty of insights into how and what users search for when it comes to a subject area. So based on the content subject areas you wish your organisation to be related to, use this tool to expand out the variations in subjects
Help & Support
Brands are clambering on the digital band wagon but using the same techniques they used in a bygone era of broadcasting their message through buying up media space (Radio, TV, ad impressions) but it is no longer working: appealing to the masses means appealing to no one.
Look to support the needs and answer the questions being posed by social traffic as well as consider your content marketing efforts to be creating the answers to popular questions associated with your industry.
Learn to take a step back from the digital tactics and begin to assess how the tactics your brand is deploying is connected with your brand purpose, your 'Why' you exist.
By creating and defining your brand as a knowledge centre helps to reconnect your brand, its purpose, its point of difference, and your reason for existence in offering true value and connection.
Simon Swan is digital strategy and transformation lead at the Met Office
image via Kheel Centre