- How has the realm of what is considered content changed over the years?
It depends on how far back we want to go, but content is anything shared to inform, educate, inspire, entertain and/or persuade the viewer/audience. Over the years, what has changed has not been the purpose of content but the channel through which it reaches its audiences. For a time, it was newspapers then radio and now in the information age, we have more ways than ever before to get a piece of content to the public. From television to websites, blogs and social media, content is king.
In addition to a wide array of channels, the mediums of content have exploded not just in number but in quality expectations. In today’s world, if you have a message to put out there it can be written content, visual content from video, photographs to illustrations, audio content and so on. This makes content today not just a communications tool but a commodity.
- Communication is growing on the continent and more organizations are looking to personnel and external firms to help them create “content.” What is the role of content in communications strategy?
It is important for us to recognize that there are other ways to communicate today that do not involve the creation of content. However, due to television and social media platforms, content has become a part of our lives. It is a topic of conversation, learning tool, entertainment and so much more. Considering that, content’s key role in a communication strategy lies in the definition. It is valuable for informing, educating, persuading, inspiring and entertaining the viewers. For example, if a childrens’ foundation approaches us for a communications strategy with the overall goal of increasing donations and partnerships to their cause, content would be one of several tools that could be used to achieve this goal. However, when other factors are considered like target audiences, budget, targets among others, creation of content around the cause may be the most suitable to inspire the viewers to donate or to partner with the foundation.
- What would be the top three most underrated considerations when creating content strategy for an organization?
In my opinion, the three most underrated factors in content management and strategy are the channels, the target audience and monitoring.
Although goals, objectives, content types and calendars among others are now given the attention they need, target audiences are considered but not given ample attention. This usually leads to poor decision making on our part when it comes to the content types and channels of distribution. There are also cases where the target audience does not fit the goal or objective especially when it comes to behavior and lifestyle. For example, a business review publication may find itself pushing their content team to develop a lot of bit sized video content however, when you analyze the audience of such a company, their tastes and preferences may lean more towards details, text and/or audios.
Secondly, channels of distribution. These are by far the most affected by a client’s budget however are also usually not given as much thought. The reality is that any channel can be used by any business or organization depending on what and how the content is packaged. Let us say a fashion house wanted to get more in-store visits and purchases, the content manager may decide to use their budget to start a podcast or a radio ad. Why? Because if the audience makes sense and the budget is right, they can create a show about fashion tips for women, latest offering and so much more information that would prompt people to trust and show up.
Lastly, Monitoring. I know that as managers, we like to see things through and although that is admirable. If it is not working, it is ok to make changes. Monitoring systems and protocols are often ignored and there is also little room to change approaches mid-campaign. Just like a car being manufactured, content is a part of a bigger machine and if the content is not working properly neither will the machine. Monitoring helps give room for adjustments where necessary.
- What are the unspoken challenges being faced by professionals in the content space today?
Right now, content creators, managers, distributors, community managers among others face a myriad of challenges.
For starters, most clients view campaign success as whether content went viral, which creates a huge problem for content managers and creators. Viral or trending content cannot be the number one priority for all types of brands, personalities, or organizations and this is primarily because of target audience, distribution channels and content topics. For instance, a social media news platform shares current news topics meaning it is only relevant for a fleeting period and needs to be treated as such with the aim of going viral while a financial advisory firm produces the kind of content that can be consumed at any point in the year and more importantly, they have a much leaner target audience than the news platform.
Secondly, a challenge that has been growing since 2019 is oversaturation of content distribution channels especially social media platforms. This means that the content produced should either be current (newsworthy), have superior quality or sponsored. This leaves professionals in the content space with the task of justifying hefty budgets and managing client expectations.
Other challenges include low content budgets, short execution periods, among others.
- What are your thoughts on content management and communication today?
The competition for eyeballs makes the content space one of the most unstable, unpredictable, and constantly changing industries. As of 2022, the average time spent by an average internet user on social media is 147 minutes (about 2 and a half hours), 2 minutes more than last year and as of 2020, the average time spent viewing content (via phone, TV, and others) is 6 hours and 59 minutes. The challenge for content creators and managers is to get a portion of that time from your target audience and to achieve the desired goal.
As content creators and managers, we face pressure to blindly follow several trends in the industry however, we need to have a clear understanding of what trends to pick up and what trends to let pass you by based on your image, goals, target audience and distribution channels.