'Marketers are facing a content skills gap'
Marketers’ content is at risk of becoming “diluted” and “deluging” consumers because they are recruiting engineers and developers to lead their social and digital strategies rather than specialists.
Speaking at an event hosted by the British Interactive Media Association today (21 February), social media experts from Twitter, cloud and web hosting brand Rackspace and marketing agency AKQA addressed how marketers need to invest more in defining their content strategies to connect with consumers, rather than just assigning members of the existing team who might be not be best placed to produce it.
A report from the Content Marketing Association and OnePoll published in June found content marketing accounts for 21 per cent of marketing spend. Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of those quizzed believe they will increase or maintain their content marketing budgets in 2013.
John Webb, Rackspace international cloud marketing director and former Rockstar Games marketer, said the premise of content marketing is to lower consumers’ barriers to get messages across but as every brand is “reinventing itself” into a content creation shop, consumers are being bombarded and resisting content. He adds this is because content producers are becoming “diluted” in their skillsets.
He said: “Marketing as a discipline needs to understand you can’t be lazy and rest on your laurels - you need to create famous - ideally infamous - content to cut through. The big trend in marketing at the moment is growth hacking, which is seeing the engineers and developers take over marketing - but in my mind that’s like having the lunatics take over the asylum. Marketing is a balance of science and art and I feel like we’re going too far down the science route.”
Webb suggested marketers take on board ex-journalists who have the skills to hunt out stories that resonate in order to unify the data and content elements to marketing to create successful campaigns.
Creating content designed to go “famous” is also about embedding a content mindset beyond the marketing communications functions to throughout the entire organisation, according to AKQA director of social Ron Peterson.
He said: “If you look at the brands doing content well, they have gone well beyond just repurposing a TV ad for YouTube. The content that works is designed for social and it’s also not just video, it’s even about the quality of a response to a question on Twitter. It’s all about having a strong strategic thought process - the best social is one that disappears and the word ‘social’ may well disappear in the next three to five years as it becomes so integrated it’s a given, like digital.”
Peterson added marketers should look to sports brands for inspiration, particularly DC Shoes and Billabong, which do not necessarily have the budgets of Nike or Adidas but create content that is regularly shared by thousands of consumers.
Dara Nasr, Twitter UK’s recently appointed head of agency sales, echoed Peterson’s advice for marketers to look at content more broadly beyond single campaigns.
He added: “The things that do well [on social] are bespoke rather than rebadging - funny stuff always works really well. But what’s important is being there and being present.”
Nasr showcased examples such as O2 wittily responding to abusive customers when it was suffering a network outage LINK or the funny Twitter exchange between the Labour and the Liberal Democrats (pictured) as ways brands can approach content beyond specific campaigns and embed it into their everyday communications.