We’ve all heard the phrase, typically uttered by agencies and ‘social media experts’, “Content is King”. This proclamation throughout the industry is the crux of a main challenge faced by fashion and luxury brands in particular. For brands so deeply rooted in exclusivity, serving up a wide array of ongoing content in a public arena presents quite the conundrum. Yet, if creating engaging and relevant information is the key to digital success, it is critical brands understand the guiding principles of content creation and curation.
As it has been learned throughout the industry, it is not especially effective to merely be present within social media. Simply hanging the proverbial shingle that is a dedicated Twitter handle or Facebook page does not equate to social success by any stretch of the imagination. The immediate gratification received initially by brand marketers as they watched the number of fans and followers climb has resulted in a less than monumental shift in consumer brand perception, sales figures, and marketing reach. The emptiness of a brand position within social media becomes painfully obvious when the content is lacking. On the other hand, we see brands and users reap sizable rewards when subject matter is interesting, engaging and tailored for the audience.
As mentioned at yesterday’s Luxury Interactive conference in London, “Content is the social currency.” In other words, content is what sparks the exchange of information, or the dialogue. Without (interesting) material, the conversation quickly becomes one-sided and ineffective.
So, how do brands determine their approach to content creation?
The initial challenge is two-fold and deals with both resources and brand voice. Brands must have both in order to serve up fascinating subject matter.
Resources don’t necessarily pertain solely to the financials, but more so to the personnel needed to craft and execute an impactful content plan. This is not to say that brands need a salaried employee dedicated only to daily tweets and Facebook posts, but rather there needs to be adequate and skilled people devising the overarching content strategy that will then be implemented daily.
The content strategy is the epicenter of a successful social media position. While social media lends itself to casual, informal dialogue that can at times be totally unscripted and in the moment, this type of exchange cannot represent the entirety of a brand’s social communication. Rather, the conversation needs to be approached like a recipe, one-part behind the scenes, one-part promotional, one-part personal, one-part product driven, one-part curation, and so on depending on each brand’s identity and existing assets.
Take for example some of the most renowned Twitter handles in our industry, OscarPRgirl, DKNY, and Bergdorfs. While fellow tweeters relate to these entities both as brands and the perceived “woman” behind each, in actuality the material tweeted is not all from a personal standpoint; nor should it be. Brands are much bigger engines, and it is the iconic image, status or story that we as consumers buy into and want to take part in. Further, businesses cannot place the value of their brand’s social media profile on a singular employee. Rather, having a crafted content strategy allows the brand to continue on regardless of who is running the show backstage.
On the other hand, the personal dialogue and transparency allowed through social media lends itself to personal connection. The tricky part is having a plan that encompasses the brand story as well as allows for users to connect with the brand persona (the perceived person behind the voice).
Whatever the brand voice, it should convey a plethora of highly organized material in a seemingly effortless way in order to protect the brand integrity and position the brand for future success. Here, a high level guideline to an effective content plan:
- Devising a solid content strategy begins with an audit of all existing content. Think beyond digital assets and consider the story of the brand. Past assets can be recreated in digital formats.
- Review the current material structure. Include all digital extensions of the brand. What type of content do you currently have and how is it organized? How could it be organized to be more intuitive and interesting for the end-user? (Think Web 3.0.)
- Monitor the ongoing dialogue. Observe the conversations about your brand that are currently taking place. In addition, pay attention to conversations about your industry that are taking place. Tools like Trendrr can help you do this.
- Define your brand voice. Now, how is this voice different online? What are the guidelines that should be put into place in order to protect your brand integrity?
- Map out the content structure. What categories will your brand’s subject matter fall into? This map should include how content will be treated on different platforms.
- Implement. Monitor. Tweak. Implement again.
Be open to creating new content, either internally or through collaborations. Be aware of how new platforms can facilitate content creation, curation and sharing. And lastly, know your audience and what they respond to, and tweak your content to fit their needs and interests.
Author: Elizabeth Schofield
Copy Editor: Gina Conforti
Photo Credits: Chris Strong