Most top brands already have one, but all businesses need to get one: A chief content officer.
So says Linda Willis, director of strategy for Des Moines, Iowa-based media and marketing company Meredith Corporation, who was one of three panelists speaking during a Tuesday morning session at DMA09 in San Diego. The session, “Content for the Digital Age,” detailed how all companies need to pay attention to content and use it to position their brands. At the same time, businesses need to rethink what content is, where it lives and what consumers do with it.
“What qualifies for content now might surprise you,” Willis says.
That’s also the reason that companies may need to have someone in charge of their content strategy, she says. For instance, Americans share 1.5 million pieces of content each day on Facebook alone, she says. With millions of videos on YouTube and 200 million bloggers, most of whom post daily, brands have many opportunities.
“We now have social networks as mainstream media,” she notes.
The way companies organize around it—the process they use—can operate much the same way as a media or marketing strategy, she says.
Willis defines content as information, tools (specifically Web-based, interactive ones) and connections (brands can offer them, too.). Consumers seem to be in control, determining what to buy based on peer-to-peer interaction, and brands can be part of that conversation by adding useful content that the consumer requests and on the platform the consumer chooses, she says.
For instance, a consumer packaged goods marketer could provide recipes that are customized to the individual, delivered on a mobile phone and complete with a grocery list and a map to the nearest store that carries the ingredients, she says. Kraft’s done that, says Leona Linder, senior director of customer relations management strategy and programs for the Northfield, Ill.-based brand.
Kraft’s $1.99 mobile phone application was the second most popular download during its second week of existence, Linder says. Kraft is also known for offering dinner recipes that can be prepared in 30 minutes and require five or fewer ingredients—a staple piece of content that can coincide with user-generated content. Kraft is comfortable, for instance, with the fact that its branded tiramisu video on YouTube ended up with fewer views than a similar, user-generated one, Linder says.
Kraft also developed a community for foodies to discuss recipes, that “connections” level of content that Willis enumerates. Linder jokes that the social media side of the content strategy is the “not quite sure what to expect tool,” but that that’s fine.
Asked how to measure social media content’s affect on sales and brand buzz, Willis says companies need to actively watch and read it in order to gage consumer attitudes.
Speaking of consumer attitudes, she says, one consumer attitude is that print is not dead—now the tactile is personal. It’s used to relax, and time spent on digital devices is mostly task-driven, Willis says.
On a related note, Melinda Sauers Dabney—director of marketing strategy and services for Des Moines-based 401K provider Principal Financial Group—says that almost all of the company’s clients chose to receive communications from Principal via e-mail. (Only those ages 65 and older chose face-to-face meetings or telephone conversations to manage their portfolios.)