Everyone is a publisher these days: bloggers, influencers, writers, mothers, pinners, tweeters, and brands. People expect great content wherever they turn, and may the best content win. The opportunity for brands is that people generally don’t care where they find good content. The challenge is that the competition is fierce and becoming more so every day. Brands must produce content and engage audiences directly.
So, what is it that we mean when we say brand as publisher? Brands need to think like publishers. Sometimes that will seem like second nature; sometimes it will seem very foreign. Either way, they’ll need to make adjustments, especially when it comes to building the skill set of internal teams and choosing the right partners for content development.
Following are a few mantras for brands to consider:
- Think big. Don’t go into this without being creative, taking risks, and being ambitious.
- Lead the category. Every brand has permission to play with certain ideas, themes, and subject matter. Once brands determine where they belong they should be aggressive about creating a lot of quality content (and producing it frequently) in their arena.
- Harness unclaimed white space. Go where no one has gone before. This can sometimes be tough, but is always worth pursuing. Carving out new space can be very powerful.
- Be consistent. The best editorial platforms/products, etc. are very clearly focused in terms of look, feel, tone, approach, and subject matter. There is a discipline and a rigor to the messaging. Great content strategies should not be dumping grounds for any old idea that comes along and is only loosely related to the editorial direction.
- Rally and energize an audience around ideas. When done well, the audience will rally around quality brand content, especially if it makes them feel something - stronger, smarter, happier, motivated, etc.
- Provide new perspectives and thinking. A brand should strive to create content that surprises and delights. Inspiring and unexpected perspectives always will garner attention.
- Be memorable. Great content stays with you sometimes for hours, days, even years. Create content that will linger with the audience.
- Be a guilty pleasure or a must-have source of information. Be clear about what the goal of the content is and what emotion you want the audience to feel or action you want them to take after reading that content.
- Measure what you can. Brands can’t measure every piece of content and expect to achieve their goals. Editorial is about bringing together a collection of voices, thoughts, and visuals to tell stories. That kind of storytelling takes time and many touch points. The overall impact of the compendium of stories will paint a more powerful measure of editorial success than pure numbers (page views) can, and ultimately result in strong engagement metrics across the board.
There are many benefits to brands taking publishing seriously. Publishing offers a chance to build an audience in an organic way - around passions. Provide quality content and your audience will not only want to spend time with you, they will come back. Keep your focus on engagement key performance indicators (KPIs). High shares, comments, and conversations will be infinitely more valuable to the brand in the long run than chasing and churning views and likes.
Though always-on publishing may sound time-consuming and the education involved may seem daunting, investing in content is worth it in the end. Great content marketing is a golden opportunity to attach meaning to the brand and improve brand opinion. Why pass up on that rare chance to seed a long-term value proposition?