I had the wonderful opportunity to speak on the content marketing panel at LinkedIn’s TechConnect 2015 with four great people — our host, Edward Bray, Head of Marketing, APAC, Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn, and my fellow panelists: Wynthia Goh, APJ Director of Digital and Social, SAP; Nikolaus Ong, Director, Marketing, EMC; and Catherine Ganapathy, Regional Account Director, PHD Singapore. Great people. Smart.
As I mentioned in my presentation, content marketing is fundamentally about competing for attention with the Kardashians. This family is big business and is all over traditional media and social media. Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kylie, Kendall, Kris and Caitlin have taught us that content, even when it’s enormously vacuous, can be compelling and entertaining to a huge audience.
Don’t believe me? Look at the figures. Kim Kardashian West has 35.3 million Twitter followers and 46.2 million Instagram followers. And Kylie Jenner, at just 18 years of age, has 11.4 million Twitter followers and 35.8 million Instagram followers. Love them or hate them, these figures are astounding. Suffice to say, we need to think that all content is competing with the Kardashians today, so to do that, it needs to stand out.
Getting back to Tech Connect 2015. As I do when preparing to speak, I write it up to try and commit it to memory. Of course the discussion never goes as planned, and I missed a few key things I really wanted to get across. No worries. We have blogs.
What’s Missing From Your Profile?
My favorite question, which had to be dropped due to time, is this: tell us something that’s not on your LinkedIn profile? When preparing, I took this question rather seriously, because you have an opportunity to make people laugh or dazzle them with your wonderful life, right? So I crowdsourced opinions from my community on Facebook, only to find many stumped, because their memories with me are best not shared with a business audience. I’ve had a fun life.
In the end, I came up with this cool memory. I’ve had the opportunity to meet loads of famous people in my life. Mother Theresa was one — she was amazing — as well as Rolf Harris — who is not so amazing anymore. However, when I was a musician in the Australian Army — which is on my LinkedIn profile — I probably had the coolest ‘famous people’ experience of all. I got to play with the remaining live members of the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Dazzling?
What Is Content Marketing?
I always like to start this with why do we have content marketing in the first place? The way the customer decides and buys has fundamentally changed. Before we would do a Google or Bing search for a product or service, and be drawn to a company’s website.
Now we are on social sites, reading content our peers are sharing. Or we’re having discussions on LinkedIn groups. But we are also online to be entertained. It’s not all work and no fun.
The goal of content marketing today is to be so good that you earn the right to exist in the world your customers are occupying. Most advertising and traditional marketing is not good enough to enter this world, so you have to step back, understand your customer holistically and create amazing content that is focused on helping your customer, which in turn builds their loyalty to your brand.
It takes a different mindset and a lot of patience. And it requires subtlety in its execution.
The most important point in Asia is that it’s not about creating more content, it’s about creating great content — that is aligned to your customer’s needs and to your brand.
Where to Source Content Creators In Asia?
Unfortunately, Ed asked me this question in a slightly different way and I had a doh! moment answering it completely differently. But I think some of this is important and would love your feedback on what I say.
The first person to employ/appoint is your brand editor. They own the voice of your company, and they must be customer centric and powerful enough to influence up and across your business. Once you have that person sitting at a strategic level in your business (they can be internal or external), the next step is working out your content strategy, and then your content resources.
From a resource perspective, there is a lot of great talent in Asia. I work for Novus Asia, but we also have King Content, Contented, Editor Group, BlinkAsia, Brand New Media, Click2View, Carat and more. Additionally, I recommend looking for content agencies with a strong publishing/broadcast heritage. A lot of success comes down to boring things, like processes, legal and compliance, project management and more, so this heritage is very important. It is one of the many things that attracted me to Novus Asia.
I also recommend you look at the Asia Content Marketing Association (ACMA) for more information. I’m thrilled to be on the board of ACMA, and our goal is to professionalise and build this industry.
Another trend is strong writing and design talent coming from other parts of Asia, with a strong English education system. India and the Philippines are two examples.
Also don’t forget your internal content creators. Who is blogging? Who is uploading decks to SlideShare? Any cartoonists or great photographers? People with hidden design talents? What about your partners and customers?
What Is My Number One Tip?
Yeah right, as if I can only do one! So here are three quickly.
The most important thing is you must step back and understand your customers. Who are they? What do they care about? Then define your content strategy with that in mind, which should be aligned to your brand goals. Winning at content marketing happens when brands define the strategy first. All examples of content marketing failing are because brands didn’t start with the strategy. But before the strategy, you MUST understand the customer.
As a former colleague said – stop everything you’re doing right now and do nothing until you understand your customer! DO NOTHING UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR CUSTOMER HOLISTICALLY! Point made?
Next take a look at your business and the best place to start is your company LinkedIn page. I can guarantee that 90% of professionals who look at their company pages (and please follow your company page if you’re not) will notice that at least 90% of the content is all about their company — latest wins, awards, events and so on. That information is still important, but the bulk of your content (80%) must be about the customer.
Look at your company LinkedIn page through the eyes of a customer and ask yourself: is it compelling enough for them to come back time and time again? LinkedIn Company pages are critical, so you must make sure the content you feature is awesome. McKinsey and all of the consulting groups are great examples of sharing world-class customer-centric content on LinkedIn. Take a look. I visit often.
Finally, and probably the thing I’m most passionate about, is train and inspire your employees to be brand advocates for your business and start at the top. To be successful quickly, you need to make sure your content succeeds. Getting your employees enthusiastically sharing it is your best chance for success, because people trust people more than they trust brands. But the content has to be good enough that your people want to share it. It is very important that brands respect the dignity of their employee’s personal brands and don’t just expect them to share marketing content. I certainly wouldn’t.
Here’s a recent deck I uploaded which talks through more of my thinking around content marketing, personal branding and employee brand advocacy.
There you go. My notes in blog form based on the questions I was asked. My fellow panelists shared other great insights too. I hope it’s useful to those seeking to understand the content marketing opportunity. Also to LinkedIn: thank you so much for the invite. I really appreciated the opportunity.
And please, if you like this, I’d love a comment, a discussion or a smile, and of course, feel free to share with your communities. That’s what it’s is all about today — sharing and giving to each other. If you like my style and what I talk about, feel free to follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter or on Facebook.