Last week we talked about embracing the authenticity that’s unique to your brand. One of the ways you can do that is by controlling the digital content you put out there instead of letting it control you. That’s exactly what part 2 of this blog series is all about – content leads but it doesn’t have to lead you!
Lesson #2: Content leads but don’t let it lead you.
One of the top questions I get as a digital account executive is this: “How many times a week should I be posting?”
If you’ve asked me that question before, you probably already know my answer: it’s not about the quantity of posts but rather the quality of posts. If you have stellar content that promotes your mission and it’s well written with compelling imagery, then feel free to post multiple times a day! I certainly don’t, and I imagine that’s not the case for you either. Even if you do have tons of good content, you might not have the capacity to post several times a day. So, instead of trying to curate content for every day of the week and every platform out there, figure out which platforms and which content serves you best – and focus on that. Powerful content leads but it doesn’t have to lead you. Make it work to your advantage.
Effective storytelling and therefore effective content look different with a digital audience. With people being exposed to countless brands, posts and stories each day, how do you get your content to stand out? The key is empathy. If you can get your audience to empathize and connect with a post, they’re more likely to engage with it. But how do you curate powerful content when there are a million other things on your agenda? Don’t overcomplicate it – use the tools you have at your disposal. Here are a few examples of simple things that can make solid digital content:
1. Get real. Digital marketing was already headed in this direction but COVID-19 certainly expedited the process. Photos, videos and other raw content taken on your own phone or camera are in. They’re relatable and powerful. These forms of content connect people to you and your work in a personal way. For example, Walmart did the whole home video thing by having their employees take a video of themselves singing ‘Lean on Me’. But it doesn’t have to be only large corporations like Walmart. One of our clients, North Raleigh Ministries, took a simple photo from their phone of their food pantry’s empty freezer at the start of the quarantine. It wasn’t anything spectacular – just an empty freezer with some graphics on it and a simple ask for donations. And yet the post literally reached more than 10k people and helped them raise tens of thousands of dollars, generating local media coverage and drawing dozens of new donors.
2. Use what’s at your fingertips. Have some great b-roll or photography from a shoot last year? Throw some graphics on top of it or add a new description. Nothing wrong with recycling. Try going live on Facebook or Instagram – no filter, no script, just talking from the heart. Or post to your stories, as they’re easy ways to share updates without having to post excessively. Again, don’t try to overcomplicate things. Make the most of what you have, especially if budget is a factor. Digital marketing can be affordable and effective.
3. Share user-generated content. People want to feel brought into your mission. One way to do that is by giving them inside looks into your work through the people closest to it. Ask your volunteers, your donors, your clients to film themselves or share a brief testimonial about your work. This helps make your brand about others. People want to see people. Share their stories in a way that honors the individual, humanizes them and highlights their triumph. What your organization did for them is secondary to who they are as an individual! Give your people a voice and others will respond positively to it.
4. Find your storytelling personality. Not sure what this is? Just spend a few moments on Wendy’s Twitter account and you’ll get the picture. Part of generating good content is identifying your niche and posting content related to that niche. What are you good at? What do you provide that no one else can? Why should people trust you? It also means finding your tone and voice. Are you witty and fun or professional and informative – or something in between? Instead of trying to talk about everything under the sun, choose 3-5 key areas that you want to center your content around based on the key components of your brand. In doing so, you create your “digital identity.” And during times of crisis, you can still remain true to your voice – you just may have to pivot and adapt your strategy. Note that this is a pivot and not a rebrand. Still be who you’ve been all along! Just find new, unique ways to speak into the changing circumstances around you.
5. Don’t be afraid to surprise people. Sometimes the best message is the one you’d least expect. Especially with so many competing messages out there, try to find unique opportunities that still support your brand. For example, during the quarantine, Uber actually put out an ad that encouraged people to not ride Uber! During a time when their business could have been extremely irrelevant (think: no one leaving their houses), they still were able to release an encouraging message which stayed true to who they are as a company.
Content can be a powerful tool when it comes to your digital marketing efforts. But you have to rein it in, identify what content you’re good at producing and chase hard after that. In doing so, you can still have leading content without letting it lead you and consume your time, your energy and your efforts. At the end of the day, the content you share should always be written with your audience in mind – something we’ll dive further into for our last blog of this series: How to build an audience that cares.
– Hannah Jessen, Digital Account Executive