Creating content together with your readers
Creating content together with your readers
Author: Fleur Schrader
Are you involving the users of your content before developing it? The future of co-creation lies in personal customisation, whereby the process with the reader already exists in the development phase. Actively involve clients and stakeholders in the process and develop the narrative together. In doing so, the client transforms from a passive figure to an active and articulate participant who uses a critical eye to gather information on products, services and organisations. Interactive platforms provide ample opportunities for both sending and receiving content. But since almost every organisation actively uses content marketing, the question arises as to how it is possible to stand out as an organisation. In short, what is the next step in content marketing?
Without getting caught up in a discussion about definitions, we will assume that we mean the following by B2B or other content marketing: 'showing the expertise of an organisation by disseminating substantive documentation online or otherwise.' This can be approached from various angles, for instance by assuming interaction and in particular developing content focussing on that effect; by monitoring and measuring the impact of messages to a large extent electronically; and by shrewdly using the press for your organisation’s purposes.
What is the goal?
At the end of the day, the ultimate goal of content is to permit your clients to find you and to engender customer loyalty. The way to do this is to express your expertise and to engage potential or existing clients in a conversation about just that.
Doing so is still quite a challenge for many organisations. What poses a real problem for many of them is feigned modesty. Technical businesses in particular can think: ‘Can we really do that? Do we have enough currency to get involved in that debate?’ Others might think: ‘It is only when we have finalised the development of our project, researched it and tested it 5 times that we might consider getting involved.’ The core of the current dialogue, however, is to give your stakeholders a role in that process. Let them think along with you, incorporate their problems into your process or provide you with critical feedback. This is not easy, but if you really know your client, you can act proactively, pointing toward the future, and actually create relevance.
How should the dialogue be organised?
The first pillar of successful content marketing is interaction. The organisation must be set up in such a way that the dialogue can be conducted. This is not to be done by communication staff alone – or more precisely not at all! They have a facilitating role to give the organisation’s experts a platform, to permit sales people to join in at the right moment or to alert the product development department.
Content must be guided strategically, whereby co-creation, the second pillar of content marketing, becomes increasingly important for the long-term preservation of the client relationship and identifying new clients. Purposefully expressing what your organisation stands for and the direction it pursues will make you stronger. You can put your organisation’s expertise on display through the use of substantive documents as well as visual material in the form of photos and clips. Make your vision and ambitions tangible for your clients.
There are many interfaces with lead nurturing and inbound marketing. Clients expect an active demeanour of and a dialogue with an organisation, which leads to active interaction. This way, clients get the impression that they are being listened to and acknowledged, whilst organisations develop a stronger position in the client’s and potential new client’s thought processes.
Authenticity is the third pillar of powerful content. Communicating a Corporate Social Responsibility policy can, for instance, produce a good narrative. There is an increasing need for organisations that are more involved with their clients and society. That is why social enterprises have been shooting up as mushrooms in the past few years. A good example of this is the recently completed collaboration between BMW and the Guggenheim Museum. The BMW Guggenheim Lab focused on raising the awareness level of important urban challenges and inspiring solutions to these challenges by conducting a dialogue in cities around the world. In sum, strive together with your client to realise a social and sustainable world. This will set you apart from your competition and reinforce your market position.
Content is substance and customisation. Include it at the strategic level in your communications strategy and incorporate it into campaigns. A successful organisation of the future is one that knows what is important to its clients and together with them strives to create the best product or service. It is all about having a strong picture of the future guided by a vision or an ambition. When, after having sent content, you are ready to involve your clients and to give focussed and active feedback, you ensure enrichment. This will make your organisation not only distinctive and valuable as a sounding board for your client, but also socially involved.
In the future it will be all about setting up a permanent development process. Use big data to create personalised customisation and develop technological aids to approach clients personally. Be ambitious, dare to stretch yourself and profile yourself as a serious sparring partner for your clients. It is only by continuously distinguishing yourself in a chaotic world full of content that you will be able to retain a healthy organisation with a stable market position.
This article is taken from a round-table conversation of a group of experts held on 14 May 2014. Participating were Ellen Roest of E-wise, Elke Schols of Royal Haskoning DHV, Nathan Kotek of TheMessageBuilder, Renson van Tilborg of Total Active Media, Marlous van Eijsden, communications advisor at the national Police Corps, and Michiel van Raaij, editor-in-chief of Architectenweb. Fleur Schrader and Jitze Reeder were present on behalf of Total Identity.