3 Content Strategy Lessons learned from Facebook, Mozilla & Co.


It was an intense but highly interesting week, I spent in London with “Content Graz”. Having discussion panels and seminars with some of the biggest brands in the communications business, taught me 3 important lessons regarding content strategy and content marketing. 

The time to invest in content strategy has come

I write this post on my flight back home to Austria. Before I entered the plane, I grabbed the latest issue of the “MISC magazine” with the title “Game Changer”. It covers different stories of game changing startups, individual thinkers and global brands. What they all have in common is their pursuit for continuous innovation. This also includes marketing and communications strategies, which ensure a highly targeted and efficient communication towards individual customers and prospects. Integrating these strategies into daily workflows is currently especially important for big global brands. But why?

Most startups founded by digital natives, act in terms of marketing and communications in a highly user-centred way. Millennials who run a company, grew up using social networks as a matter of course, organize their days efficiently with the help of digital to-do lists, calendars etc. and manage their documents by only using clouds. In other words: How collaboration and workflows are structured in startups, is often far more efficient than in large companies. Idris Mootee, publisher and editor-in-chief of MISC magazine wrote in his editorial: “This is good news for humanity, but it’s bad news for large companies ­– most of which are running on outdated operating systems, decades old infrastructures, and strategic theories that never should have been activated in the first place.” And he is right – especially when it comes to content strategy. Mike Atherton, Content Strategist at Facebook in London pointed out: “Content strategy at Facebook is like building a car while it’s driving down the road”. But what does that mean?

When we speak about content strategy, large global brands have to understand, that the marketing and communications business is getting faster and faster. A good content strategy not only ensures that relevant information reaches users at the right time and via the right channel, but also that management and governance of content are getting more efficient and reduced by complexity. Implementing that is crucial for companies when it comes to rapidly adapting to new communication trends. Startups are good at being dynamic and flexible. To keep pace with them, large companies will be advised to invest in content strategy. Now.

Video – the next big thing in content marketing

It’s not a secret that video, and especially mobile video, are near to experience their golden ages. At a discussion panel in London, which covered the topic mobile video, all experts on the stage agreed on the fast growing importance of video content. One year ago at the Fifteen Seconds Festival in Graz, Jeremy Tai Abbett, Creative Evangelist at Google, predicted: “In future everything’s gonna be video”. And I guess he’s right, when I look at the timelines of my various social media profiles. Video is everywhere. But in terms of optimizing them for mobile, most of the companies have not adapted yet. When social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn & Co. invented the possibility to watch videos straight out of the timeline, they fundamentally changed, how videos have to be produced. Now it’s suddenly necessary that videos work without any sound. If that’s not possible, they should at least contain subtitles.

But what does make video content so successful?

  • No other content type is transporting emotions so well as videos do
  • Complex topics can be much easier explained by using video instead of text
  • Companies can shape their brands by developing a unique visual language
  • As we experience the so-called “visual turn” since years, people are more likely to use picture-based information instead of text-based information
  • Producing videos got much easier in the last years – even smartphones already deliver excellent quality

Another interesting fact concerning mobile video is the importance of authenticity – an example: When James Bond Skyfall was released in 2012, Coca Cola and Heineken both created a mobile video campaign. While Heineken produced a highly professional commercial with Daniel Craig himself, Coca Cola decided not to hire a hollywood star. Instead they played to authenticity’s strengths and made an entertaining fun-video especially tailored for social networks. The result is stunning: Coca Cola’s video already has 11.360.000 views on Youtube, whereas Heineken’s just has 560.000. And also the user engagement in social networks was in the case of Coca Cola a lot better.

Watch Heineken’s video:

Watch Coca Cola’s video:

The bottom line is that companies have to prepare their organizational structure as well as their content strategy for implementing authentic video content into their communication strategy.

Customer journey mapping is crucial

When my colleagues from Content Graz and I had a seminar at DigitasLBi, we discussed the increasing importance of customer journey mapping with Christopher Lee Ball, Executive Customer Experience Director. In most of their projects, they use customer journeys to identify the most important touch-, pain-, and pleasure-points with customers and prospects. The more communication channels a corporation uses, the more difficult it is to really discover these points. Anne M. Schüller, author of the book “Touchpoints. Auf Tuchfühlung mit dem Kunden von heute” declares that today, customers jump between offline and online touchpoints to collect relevant information. This means that it’s not enough to understand just the digital customer journey, which is by far easier to track, but also the offline journey.

Another important aspect regarding customer journeys is what Schüller describes as an “Influencing Touchpoint”. Whenever a potential customer starts his research about a product, he most likely does this by talking (offline or online) to other people who already bought a product of a certain brand. This influences the prospect fundamentally and gives him a good clue into how the company treats customers. If this customer buys a product, he himself is going to be an influencing touchpoint for anybody else.

As a consequence of this, customer relationship management will get even more important in future. From a content strategy and content marketing point of view, customer journeys are important to ensure a communication, which is based on the user’s content needs.

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Max Sommer Written by:

Max Sommer is a specialist and advisor in the fields of content marketing, content strategy and brand management. He is head of the department "Brand & Content Marketing" at the international high tech company Anton Paar.

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