Amongst the most iconic pieces of content in the film business, is the photograph of Marilyn Monroe’s “flying skirt” shot during the making The Seven Year Itch, almost 65 years ago. Over time, the incident is no longer viewed as a lucky accident, but a carefully strategised event that created unforgettable content, which resonates with audiences over time.
Fast forward to 2019. In an era of transient digital memories, where audiences are bombarded with a continuous flow of information, how do storytellers create content that endures? What is the missing piece in content marketing strategy today? In my experience of working with corporate storytellers across brands and domains, I believe that there are still four missing pieces that content strategists must address to ensure success.
Technology as an enabler
Just as television and street photography were the new tools of the 1950s, AI and machine learning are the technologies that are transforming businesses across the world today. Even as Adobe 2018 research
indicates that top-performing companies are twice as likely to use AI for marketing, corporate storytellers are still lagging behind in providing for these new technologies in content creation strategy. How can insights from data be mined to frame and reframe narratives? What role will automation play in storytelling? How can these technologies be brought together to enable storytellers to create impactful stories? As the sci-fi film Sunspring
debuted in London in 2016, with screenplay written by an AI bot, all indications are that technology must become integral to content marketing strategy.
A multi-faceted team of corporate storytellers
More than at any time in history, the definition of content is changing. While photographs and moving images were the new content assets of the 1950s, the Internet age is dominated by memes, gifs and viral videos. With video marketing emerging as one of the biggest trends
in 2019, text-only formats are now passé. Even as this requires multiple content formats, the need of the hour is for multi-faceted team that create content across different mediums. The new corporate storytellers must combine the capabilities of wordsmiths, data analysts and visual artists. They will need to be experts in neural storytelling. Content strategy must factor in how organizations will build such unique talent pools to engage in digital storytelling.
Drive an integrated communications strategy
The best content has traditionally been created by strategists who foresee the impact of their stories—irrespective of dissemination channels. In fact, like the iconic 1950s Monroe photograph, which was inspired by the film that it was meant to publicize, stories gain momentum when threaded across an organization’s narrative. That’s why it’s increasingly important for brands to adopt an integrated communications strategy. In my experience, content strategy functions as a horizontal across the organization, inspiring its stories across global channels. Take how Airbnb carried the company’s mantra of “belong everywhere” into community storytelling across channels, thereby replacing the perception of it being just another “tech startup” with being embraced as a travel pioneer across the world.
Measure your success
Finally, as audiences like, share and engage with content, more than at any time in history, marketers now have digital tools to measure the success of content with different target audiences. If successful content strategies have traditionally focussed on planning, it’s time to turn the spotlight on measurement. And with analytics even predicting content impact before dissemination, the era of targeted content strategies could finally be here.
While the world has changed much in the last five decades, I believe strategy still powers memorable stories. In the digital age, this will be driven by how organisations use technology, build multi-faceted teams, drive integrated communications and measure their success.
(The author is senior director - content, Gutenberg)