your-brand-BritoThe thought of your brand becoming a media company may scare you. Let’s look at it from a different perspective, then. One thing that every company struggles with is content.

The ability to create content that tells a good story and integrates it across the digital ecosystem isn’t easy. So in order to feed the content machine day in and day out with a compelling brand narrative, you must become a content organization.

Storytelling is what drives a content organization. A content organization believes that content (not just marketing content but value-add content) is what drives behaviour change with customers, partners and employees.

A content organization has the right people, editorial workflows and technology solutions in place to help facilitate organizational change that will allow you to:

  • feed the content machine every day with a compelling narrative that breaks through the clutter;
  • provide content that matters to stakeholders; that comes from its stakeholders (employees and customers);
  • create content in real time when the opportunity arises;
  • build converged media models (paid, earned, shared and owned media integration) that translate into brand ubiquity;
  • be agile and pump out content with little to no pushback.

So if any of this sounds good to you, please read on.

Here are four steps that can help you become an effective content organization.

Start with your storytelling principles

This is one piece that you cannot skip. Don’t be like other brands that post random content on Facebook and Twitter either because their competitors are doing so, or because it’s the “in” thing to do.

Most of the time they run out of things to say, or post irrelevant content. You will have to decide what story you want to tell and how you want to tell it. Your content narrative will consist of several inputs:

  • The brand narrative – What is your pure brand message, positioning?
  • Audience affinities – What is important to your audience?
  • Non-business issues – What are the non-business issues that are important to the brand? (For example, sustainability, energy efficiency, ending poverty)
  • Media perceptions of the brand – What does the media say when they write about the brand? The context, not the sentiment.
  • Community perceptions of the brand – How does the community react to your current content? Again, the context, not the sentiment.
  • Historical content performance – Performance data on what type of content works and what types don’t work, day parting, content types, etc.
  • Search behaviour – What do consumers search for when looking for your products?
  • Customer support issues – What are the support issues that most concern your customers?

The output will help you mold a story that your audience can actually relate to, engage with, and then share with others.  Additionally, a stellar content strategy should help you prioritize your storytelling principles and map them specifically to relevant social media and other digital channels.

Once you have your story, you will then have to decide how you want to tell it and who in your organization can help.

Tesla Motors is named after 19th century mechanical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla. Image via Tesla's Google Plus page.

Tesla Motors derives its brand mythology from 19th century mechanical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla. Image via Tesla’s Google Plus page.

Think internally first

Media companies have people – a lot of people. They have editors, managing editors, assignment editors, writers, staff writers, freelance writers etc.

Brands have people too.

They’re called employees and they are most likely wicked smart too. What’s stopping you from mobilizing them to create content that delivers value? I’m not saying that you just open the floodgates and allow for a free-for-all.

You’ll have to create a plan, establish processes and workflows, and maybe start small with just 10 or 15 employees. Once you demonstrate a few wins and best practices, you can grow from there.

And don’t forget that employees are viewed as trusted and credible sources when people are seeking out information about a product or service. It makes sense. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. A few platforms that enable employee advocacy are Expion’s product Social Advocator, Addvocate and Dynamic Signal.

A group of brand advocates congregate at a charging station for Tesla's Drive Free campaign.

A group of brand advocates congregate at a charging station for Tesla’s Drive Free campaign. Image via Tesla Motors’ Facebook Page.

Expand beyond the firewall

If you have a good product, then most likely there are groups of people who already love you. They have a deep level of emotional equity associated with your brand: the way it makes them feel (Dodge Ram = tough), the value they extract when using your products (Toyota Prius = inexpensive, great mileage and good for the environment), or the fact that they can save the planet and be pretty cool at the same time (Tesla Motors Model S).

They are called brand advocates. Enabling advocates to help tell your brand story is a huge opportunity and, in fact, there are several platforms available today that can facilitate this: Social Chorus, Influitive and Branderati.

The Tesla Model S has a large following of enthusiasts.

The Tesla Motors website features a consumer-facing media page devoted entirely to the Model S.

Build the content supply chain

Once you have your narrative down and your internal teams and customers ready to feed the content engine, you will have to build a supply chain that can facilitate content ideation, asset management, approval workflows and content distribution to the channels you manage – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

This could also include .com publishing and paid media opportunities as well, considering the importance of the creative newsroom and converged media modeling.

Content organization or media company? It’s the same thing. The point is that you have to change the way you think as it relates to content strategy, engagement and the way your teams are staffed.

If you don’t think that your brand needs to change then you are still living in the 90s, when consumers were less distracted with technology and the Internet.

This excerpt, adapted for Sparksheet, is from the book, Your Brand: The Next Media Company by Michael Brito. Used by permission.