Are You an Evolutionary or Revolutionary Content Marketer?

Ragy Thomas

March 28, 20186 min read

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Content marketing” may be one of the biggest buzzwords in recent years, but the concept behind it – creating and distributing valuable content to attract and retain an audience – is nothing new. From John Deere’s 1895 launch of The Furrow to American Express’s 2007 rollout of OPEN Forum, brands have deployed an evolving, but largely unchanged version of it for more than 100 years.

Then came social. And with it, three revolutionary changes:

  • Rapid proliferation of new channels

  • Two-way creation and exchange of content

  • Customers who are connected, informed, and in control

Across the landscape, it’s become increasingly clear that marketers and opinion makers fall into two different camps when it comes to content marketing. The “evolutionary” camp believes that social represents a few new channels, but that the discipline can evolve to meet it. The “revolutionary” camp, on the other hand, believes that social has disrupted the world, and that fundamentally different thinking and technology are required as a result.

Here’s a summary of how each side views the topic:

content marketing grid
Table of Contents

Every Part of the Process is Shaped by Your Approach

Ideation: Deciding What Content to Create

With an evolutionary approach to content marketing, ideas come from small sample sizes, like focus groups, or, even less ideal, directly from the marketers themselves. The intent to understand and provide value to an audience is pure, but at the end of the day, decisions are driven by what marketers think their broader audience wants.

But with 3 billion people on social media sharing their likes and dislikes in real-time, brands don’t have to guess anymore. They’re telling you every day. What’s more, that audience is no longer a mass of faceless people with generic characteristics. These are real people, connected to their real identities – for the very first time.

Revolutionary content marketers harness social listening to source content ideas in real-time, drawing inspiration from the voice of their customers and key influencers across hundreds of channels.

Microsoft, for example, uses social listening to process 150 million digital conversations a year. The software giant uses these insights to inform not just its content strategy, but its business strategy more broadly.

Planning: Establishing Production & Collaboration Workflows

With more channels (and more customers moving across them) than ever before, omni-channel campaigns have become a necessity. That doesn’t make the collaboration required to pull them off them any easier, of course.

Today, evolutionary content marketers use separate communication and project management tools, resulting in inefficient and often hard-to-measure campaigns. Spreadsheets are just fine for them, because social is just another channel for pushing out content.

Revolutionary content marketers, on the other hand, rely on intuitive, flexible, and automated workflows that help them – and their company’s entire client-facing operation – adapt their content plans to treat each of their many customers as individuals. They see social as a foundational way to tailor those messages, reaching customers where they are, on their terms.

At Philips Lighting, for instance, digital marketing and social care work in concert – as part of a unified social platform – to field and respond to inquiries across the social landscape. As a result, the 36,000-person company can efficiently coordinate its content and address specific customer issues as they happen.

Publishing: Delivering & Engaging Across Channels

Like planning, publishing content across dozens of social networks – not to mention blogs, mobile apps, and countless other channels – can be a logistical nightmare.

For evolutionary content marketers who rely on disconnected systems to plan, produce, and publish content across organic and paid, the challenge can be overwhelming. The only choice is to pick one channel at a time, and publish.

Revolutionary content marketers differentiate themselves with tools to disseminate a message across all of their channels (optimized for that specific channel) at a moment’s notice. They then use those same tools to respond instantly to any feedback they get. What’s more, as most third-party channels – such as social, display, or SEM – have become pay-to-play endeavors, these content marketers can leverage the power of paid media efforts alongside their owned and earned content.

Brands can learn from Santander UK, which used Sprinklr to enable collaboration between marketing, customer care, compliance, and other departments. The global bank’s efforts resulted in a more complete view of 14 million customers across all relevant touchpoints, and empowered Santander to achieve more than 1.5 million engagements and 100 million impressions on social in just one year.

Learn more about social media automation software.

Measuring & Optimizing – Scaling Across the Enterprise

To develop a fully integrated content marketing structure, brands need solutions that can evolve. Each team involved in the content marketing process needs to be on the same page, literally and figuratively.

Evolutionary content marketers expect teams around the globe to organize themselves and take separate approaches to coordinating, executing, and measuring campaigns.

By contrast, revolutionary content marketers coordinate campaigns across teams, brands, and global markets – allowing for a more consistent and powerful brand message. But they don’t stop there. The best of them connect critical components of the marketing technology stack – like CMS, CRM, and analytics – with their content marketing solution to ensure a seamless flow of actionable information.

Royal Dutch Shell, one of the largest companies in the world, does exactly that, managing content creation, approvals, publication, and paid amplification in a seamless, efficient way. Shell uses Sprinklr to quickly develop and disseminate content, and with the robust governance measures it has in place, ensures that all material is compliant and reflective of the brand’s overall voice.

The World Has Changed. Have You?

We’re 10 years into the social revolution, and many large companies have already gone extinct from an inability – or unwillingness – to think differently. They ignore the harsh new realities that stem from the proliferation of channels, the bi-directional creation and exchange of content, and, most importantly, the shift in power to the customer.

Those post-social realities fuel our view of the world; a perspective shared by 1,200+ blue-chip brands publishing 70,000+ pieces of content daily through Sprinklr’s platform. It also underpins what Forrester referred to as “breakaway technology and vision” in its latest content marketing report.

Every content marketer today has a choice: to be evolutionary or revolutionary. To rely on ‘before social’ tools and point solutions, or to embrace platform purpose-built for the ‘after social’ world.

Which path will you choose?

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