I recently wrote about an emerging role in the C-suite: Chief Content Officers. Due to the ever-rising volume of content and ever-increasing number of channels in which to distribute it, solving the problem of “being heard” has become an organization-wide issue. I explain this more in depth in my last post, here.

Good content marketing means: 1) Telling a good story, and 2) telling it in the right places. That is the role of the CCO. And the single best way to accomplish those two goals is to understand and communicate with consumers. Every day on social media, people are willingly announcing what they’re interested in and willing to share. Knowing what content to create is as simple as watching what consumers create themselves. Use social media analytics to find the trends in what customers talk about, create, and desire, says Tim Bahr, CEO of NextWorks, a content marketing firm:

“First you should know what the audience wants. Today’s social media analytics can give you those insights.”

So it’s simple: Know what consumers are talking about, and you’ll know what they’ll listen to. But I’d argue for going a step further: Let them tell that story themselves.

Gather authentic consumer stories – the best content

Who can tell your brand story better than your customers? The best, most engaging stories of any brand are the stories of that brand impacting real people’s lives. These authentic consumer opinions speak precisely to what other consumers like them care about – which is the foundation of great content, says Toby Murdock, CEO of Kapost, a content marketing platform:

 “Today, most marketers know they shouldn’t push product message at prospects, but instead need to pull in those prospects with content that speaks to the prospects’ interests.”

Take financial services, for example. Financial products can be hard to differentiate, but each customer’s relationship with their provider is unique. A new married couple’s story of financing their first home humanizes the firm and its products, and associates an emotional moment with the brand. American Express and Capital One invite these types of stories, and many brands spread them on their site, social profiles, mobile apps, and – yes – in their marketing.

Find real stories of your brand’s values in action

The best content marketing will be authentic to your brand, and resonate with what your consumers care about. Kapost’s Murdock agrees:

“Content – specifically buyer-focused (as opposed to product-focused) content – is not some passing fad, but more and more the fuel that drives all marketing and demand generation success.”

And as NextWorks’s Bahr suggested, you’ll figure out what your consumers care about most by listening to them.  What do they talk about when they discuss why they love your product/brand?  What stories can you tell that emphasize those feelings?

Coca-Cola creates excellent content marketing, and it’s because the brand stays true to its values while searching for inspiring, real-world stories. In one content marketing campaign, they decided to profile “kind crazies” – people doing random acts of kindness. One man hangs up swings in public places, and encourages people to swing on them and remember their childhood joy. Another makes a habit of hailing cabs for strangers.  These people are sharing happiness for no reason other than to share happiness – and that resonates with Coca-Cola’s brand.

I’ll discuss the strategies behind Coke’s excellent content marketing with Ashley Brown, Group Director, Digital Communications and Social Media at The Coca-Cola Company, in part three of this series.

Emulate traditional publishers to tell stories in the right places at the right times

Once you have the right stories, the task becomes to tell them in the right places, at the right time, to the right people. Traditional organizations aren’t structured to do this well. They’re siloed, they don’t share information, and they react slowly to the changing global conversation.

Marketers would do well to take a page from (of all places) the editorial industry. Fast-moving deadlines, attention to trends, and frictionless sharing of information across the org are things publishers do well – and brands struggle with.

This requires companies to share information across teams, in real time, across channels. Spread access to trends in your social and customer data across your business: To R&D, marketing, customer service, and more. Different areas will uncover different stories to tell – and then, it’s on the Chief Content Officer to tell them effectively.

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