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If it’s not changes in Facebook’s algorithms keeping us on our toes, it’s changes in how consumers are engaging with content. That said, we’re pretty sure the biggest challenge for content marketers will surprise you.

Connecting the dots between the branding goals of content marketing and business outcomes has been a widely discussed topic as companies try and translate how a measure such as social engagement impacts their bottom-line, hard figures, and ROI. The presumed biggest difficulty in content marketing has been justifying the cost in a direct, tangible way. Makes sense, right?

A shift has occurred in the past few months; with the massive rollout of monetisation capabilities in social and digital, it’s now a lot easier to put a dollar value on each click, video view, social share, etc., making the black hole of content marketing ROI a little less daunting for marketers. This shift is reflected in the Content Marketing Institute and ADMA’s most recent content marketing survey, which cites the biggest challenge for Australian marketers as now being “producing engaging content.”

In 2014, producing engaging content was the fourth biggest challenge for Australian content marketers at 41% behind lack of time and producing enough content and a variety of content. In 2015 producing engaging content had risen to the top of the list, with 50% of Australian marketers citing it as a challenge. In 2016, this jumped to 69%, retaining the top spot in the list of challenges content marketers face. 

Source: Content Marketing Institute/ADMA.

So why are content marketers so concerned? Do the results show a lack of engagement with their content, or is the problem that they aren’t hitting the nail on the head every time?

There’s an element of risk in every piece of content produced, and sadly there’s no way to know how every member of your target audience will respond. To the disappointment of marketers everywhere, there is no magic formula to creating viral content. But as with any other type of marketing, there are factors that increase the chances of success and minimise risk.

Whether you succeed or not comes down to your strategy, team, planning and measurement.

The Strategy

81% of Australian marketers with a verbal-only content strategy find producing engaging content a challenge, compared to 59% of those with a documented content marketing strategy.

Having a clear strategy gives your content marketers direction, and the creation of it gives your organisation the opportunity to learn about your audience, determine where and how you want to tell your brand’s story, set clear goals and objectives, and most importantly, reduce the challenges you’ll face later down the line. 

A good content marketing strategy should include:

  • Your business case - why are you creating this content, what are the risks and what does success look like?
  • Your business plan - cover off your obstacles, opportunities and goals. What will your content offer users, is it informative or entertaining, does it solve a problem or provoke thought?
  • Your audience personas and content plan - who are you making this content for and how often are they likely to engage, and what with? Will you make videos for teens, articles for mums, or maybe infographics for marketers? Discovering who your target audience is, what they’re interested in and what they engage with online and offline will determine your content plan.
  • Your brand story - what do you want to communicate, what sets you apart from your competitors, and how do you see perceptions of your brand changing once you’ve shared your content?

The Team

In 2014, only 9% of content marketers cited ‘finding trained content marketing professionals as a challenge. In 2015 this had risen to 31%, but dropped down to 26% in 2016. 

Finding the right people for any job can be a challenge, but content marketers need an especially broad skill set, including a solid knowledge of marketing, excellent storytelling (not just writing) skills, the nimbleness to write for diverse audiences, an understanding of social and other digital media and how it can be used to amplify content, and expertise in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Essentially making finding a great content marketer every recruiter’s nightmare. To work alongside your unicorn, you’ll also need fantastic designers and potentially developers, depending on the type and scale of the content you’re creating.

Having a team of great content creators (or even just one!) can make an incredible difference to the content you’re producing and how engaging it is for your audience. 

The Plan

As part of your strategy, you would (or should) have come up with a content plan around what sort of content you want to create and who you want to create it for. Now it’s time to expand on this and create a detailed plan, which should include:

  • The target volume of content, and the volume of each type of content if you’re creating a variety of content types. For example, you might create five blog posts per month, two videos, and twenty social posts. 
  • An amplification plan to work alongside your content. This should include any external sites or social platforms that you want to seed your content out to, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ (for SEO purposes), and Instagram. If you have a database of email subscribers, also consider if and how you’ll include content in your eDMs.
  • Most importantly, have a schedule of when content needs to be delivered, how often you want to post on your social channels, and how often you want to email your subscribers. Creating a calendar that your content creators and social teams can access will keep everyone in the loop on what’s happening when, and keep everyone on track in terms of content creation, social posting, and community management. 

It’s important to note that even the best plans can fall apart without a contingency plan. Content might get delayed due to external factors, or new content opportunities might arise at the last minute. Plus, you never know when the next big social platform will come out, and your marketing plan needs to be nimble enough to respond to changes in the environment or global or local events.

Making Magic with Art and Science

Using this always-on content optimisation formula, we’ve seen some great results. In just over two years, on Facebook, one of our clients saw a 45% increase in page likes, which was double the increase of its competitors’ growth; a 33% increase in engagement, with 120-370 more comments, likes and shares per post on average vs. competitors, and a total organic reach of over 3.5 million on posts.

Twitter saw a 26% growth in followers, the highest out of its competitors, two to 11 times more retweets, replies and likes per tweet vs. competitors, and reached 12 million users organically. Finally, Instagram boasted the highest follower growth out of competitors with a whopping 273% increase, and 77% increase in engagement.

It’s a matter of huddling together, applying a mix of journalistic backgrounds, storytellers, data junkies, and creatives/designers, all collaborating to create content informed by analysis in an infinite feedback loop of research, brand and audience analysis, campaign and content planning, creation, implementation, analysis and optimisation, through to reporting, looping back around to planning again.


This article was written by our Associate Planner and Analyst Sylvia Nantier, and Amplification Manager Inez Zimakowski.