So what’s all this about “Content”?

Dave Yeates

Recently, I had a CEO spend over half an hour reading through my publications. I don’t think I’ll ever get 30mins in a CEO’s diary to discuss what I have in mind, yet here he was, telling me that he’d been reading my blogs and consuming my content.

Hmm, content.

I think we all try to wrap our heads around best practice here. And to be honest, I’m no shining example – as a one-man practitioner, I’ll be managing social in fits and starts for a while yet. I’ve got to work out the production tactics in a way that marries up with my working rhythm, it’s hard.

But I’ve been watching this space for a while and I think there’s a lot of misconception about “Content”. ‘Content marketing’ is a way to use content, ‘branded content’ is another, ‘click funnelling’ is another, the execution is largely the same, but the intent is very different. One sells, one builds preference and consideration through story, and one captures data for more marketing, retargeting and conversions.

 

So, where to go from here?

I have a major issue with just posting sporadically, I think sporadic content works if you’re habitual, relentless and have the time – but then it’s not sporadic is it? Content is more about the planning that most people realise. Everything, from the subject matter to the platforms, the audience segmentation, right the way down to hashtags, the PR you can leverage to drive traffic and time of day you post; all of it counts.

What I want to talk about is “Content” (with a capital ‘C’) – this includes blogging, guest blogging, social media, video, podcasts, radio shows, YouTube, and so much more. Because I believe, as always, if you start high-level, the tactical becomes so much clearer and easier to manage.

What I mean by that is, if think about a block of content as one massive creative execution, you could pull 80% of the next month’s posts to every platform from one idea. What would that look like for you?

You could make a film, stage a photo shoot, maybe it’s a trip you’re going on or a creative idea you’ve been working on. Or even a leveraged ad campaign. Whatever it is, if you can get the idea to be big, audacious and layered enough to matter, you’ll have content coming at you from all over.

 

So, who’s doing it?

GaryVee's vlog: DailyVee

GaryVee’s vlog: DailyVee

The largest proponent of this kind of content is Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) – his relentless execution on Snapchat and Instagram stories, coupled with a youtube show and regular vlog is leveraged only by his ability to selfie his way to stardom. And does it work? Hell yes. In 6 years he’s built a social media agency to around 800 most growth has catalysed in the last three years, as he travels the world as a digital and motivational speaker. The profile wins. Gary was recently named a judge on Apple’s ‘Planet of the Apps’ alongside Will.I.Am, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba.

The secret sauce (aside from sickeningly good execution habits), is the production team he’s managed to build as his profile has grown. He’ll rant on a youtube video, I’ll be cut into his vlog, his team will freeze frame his moments and throw one-liner quotes over the images and screensavers via Instagram and his behind the scenes footage as it’s all going down is occasionally posted on facebook live. He’s everywhere, giving generously, constantly and with infectious character. It’s not only cool, it’s commercially ahead of its time too.

Kirwin Rae's "social experiment"

Kirwin Rae’s “social experiment”

This kind of approach to recycling content is wildly successful because of its ability to create content at scale with very little relative overhead. Aussies doing this well are business coaches Jack Delosa and Kirwin Rae, who’s regular shows, coupled with social media presence and infectious character create following for commercial success too. Delosa’s recent product launch was a Kickstarter campaign that was fully funded in a matter of days. His youtube series AskJackD regularly features members of Australia’s startup elite and is also done candidly as a facebook live show. Delosa recently made the decision to employ a video producer to follow his daily activities for upcoming video series “Unscripted”. Similarly, Kirwin Rae documents his activities. Only this time, the charm is in his honesty, bravery and willingness to be vulnerable on camera. Dubbed “The Social Experiment”, Kirwin is exploring the entire premise of this article practically and for the world to see. Sponsoring content on Facebook that does nothing but tells stories – no sales pitch at all. The concept of using a paid media channel for only mildly-branded “Content” is contrary to the idea of measurable, ROI-based social advertising, but it works. Netting $67k in just 8 weeks through his activities on Snapchat.

 

So, it’s really that big?

Casey Niestat arrives at TNW conference - on a wakeboard

Casey Niestat arrives at TNW conference – on a wakeboard

Yes. And what’s clear here is relentless execution on a creative medium. And no-one has done it better that Casey NiestatVlogging now for 6 years, Casey’s amassed a subscriber base of 5.5million people. Think about it. This is a guy who has an audience that could fill the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground – capacity 100,000) 55 times over. And this isn’t for any special event, this is for a regular vlog that has had, in total, over 1.2 billion video views at the time of writing this post. Casey uses content to build a personal brand of influence. Something I’m watching a very clever Alex Malley (Author / CEO, CPA Australia) build and grow at the moment.

Aerial View of Melbourne's MCG

Aerial View of Melbourne’s MCG

Last but definitely not least is an open recognition that the rules around consumer behaviour and attention have changed. If advertising content is working in a paid medium, then what’s happening to TV? We’re all watching NetFlix, iTunes and catchup TV anyway – so what’s the best way to leverage such a rich and engaging medium? One way to go is to build a profile with interesting content on regular TV, like Alex Malley is taking on with “in conversation” or like Todd Sampson’s “Body Hack”. Like it or not, the movement of “content” is mostly to video, largely because of the emotive and engaging possibilities of capturing and keeping an audience who want to come back for more. Jack Delosa’s “AskJackD” is a similar venture, but self-started and digitally distributed.

James Corden's Carpool Karaoke

James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke

Move outside of Australia and you’ve got clever souls like Chase Jarvis from Seattle in the US working on one-off specials like “30 days of genius” that just have no equal in my opinion. Sarah Dietchy from New York, with “Creative Spaces TV” – composes a seasonal show that explores the spaces that inspire creative people – as a young content producer she fills the MCG every week with her weekly show, content and vlog. And lastly, you’ve probably stumbled on a British larrikin by the name of James Corden in the last year or so with his BuzzFeed-worthy content “Carpool Karaoke” floating around almost every social media platform known to man. Why? Because he’s funny, yes. But also because the content is wildly shareable, so-much-so that his videos frequently trend on all social platforms, on content aggregators like Buzzfeed and Distractify and on YouTube – where he flaunts a humble 78 MCGs. Building his personal brand and “late, late” tv show into a platform for international celebrity.

 

So, where to start?

These three are using digital platforms to build audiences outside of traditional media, only further proving GaryVee’s mantra that “The mobile phone is the television”. What happens when you collect all of these personalities, Australian, American and British it’s pretty clear to see that the future of content and the success of executing “Content” in business is predicated on:

  1. Video – and telling stories that are engaging, audience-building, and make people come back for more.
  2. Leverage – there’s so much to say here about leveraged content also, and the opportunities for PR, distribution, recycling and virality, another blog, another day.
  3. Relentless personal execution – and getting the right things done, daily, micromanaging the right things on the right platforms that make sense to your audience.

I only hope that creative gap in my own content; the space between where I am today, and where I want to be, begins to shorten. And the only thing that’s going to get me there is relentless, personal execution.

So when this CEO is telling me I’ve had his undivided attention for over half an hour consuming my content, I realised that this game isn’t just about the numbers either. It’s about the benefit. It’s about that audience you can build by simply being engaging, authentic and a character people will come back to see more of.

Who knows what’s next, all I know is – you’ll be seeing me…

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