Creating a Thriving Content Ecosystem, from Real-Time to Evergreen

ContentWe’ve past the end of the beginning of social media. Companies are no longer dabbling in social because it seems like a good idea. Social and digital programs must move the needle on business results if we are to be successful. Yet, less than 8 percent of marketers believe their social programs are achieving the success they need. With Facebook’s organic reach declining, and a bumper crop of new social networks – each with its own content challenges and native advertising solution – there’s a dizzying stream of news about the shifting social landscape. It’s enough to overwhelm even the savviest social media pros.

I talked about this when I delivered the keynote address for the recent American Marketing Association online learning event: “The Social Edge: What Marketers Need to Know in a Shifting Landscape.” I wanted to provide some useful information for those marketers who are struggling to adapt to this quickly changing world. While the presentation covered several topics, I want to focus on one here that can provide a helpful framework for anyone using social media for marketing and communications.

Quality content is the new king

Content is no longer an asset – it’s a mindset. Social media content must actually be worth sharing to be successful. I recommend the 90/10 rule: 90 percent of content should be about things that are of mutual interest to you and your audience, and 10 percent can be more promotional. So, what exactly should that content consist of?

We like to think about this in a grid – the new content ecosystem.

Real-time to evergreen

On the X axis, there’s the spectrum of timeliness. Real real-time refers to things that happen in-the-moment and come to light when an observant, creative and thoughtful team watches for customer engagement opportunities, news events, memes and other big moments. Planned real-time is when a brand prepares to share content around events and cultural moments – like that famous cookie-at-the-big-game moment. You have a plan in place for when something relevant to the brand happens, and are ready to act quickly to create content and gain any approvals necessary. Planned-for moments can be things like holidays, where you know they’re going to happen and create work in advance that feels timely to the audience. Evergreen content is just that – valuable content with a long shelf life.

This may seem like a lot, and it is. It will take planning, organization and structure. But you don’t necessarily have to create it all. Along the Y axis, you’ll see these can encompass a variety of original, curated, co-created, sponsored and fan-generated material. This dynamic ecosystem will not only lead to more quality content, but will engage fans and partners in new ways. Brands can begin to use social media to a greater potential, and have information and advertising that really resonates with audiences. This leads to sharing, fan engagement and advocacy – all of which will lead to real business results.

Paul is the President and CEO of the Zócalo Group, Ketchum’s Word of Mouth and Brand Evangelism division.