We’re only a few months into it, but 2017 is shaping up to be the year of content. Marketers are falling all over themselves to define their content and content strategy, wondering if what they’re doing is enough.
Chances are, the answer is not yet. “Content” these days is everything, so much so that Accenture Interactive has gone so far as to declare “You Are Your Content.” According to research issued by the company earlier this month, content, in all its forms, is what consumers are now using to define, understand and connect with a company.
“The [new] virtual world is a series of experiences, and those experiences are defined by your content,” Donna Tuths, global digital content lead at Accenture Interactive and report author, tells Search Insider. “The content identity that you create is going to define who you are. The onus on content is becoming greater and greater.”
That content — and the rise of its importance — is closely tied to the ease of search. As consumers have turned to Google for answers to even the simplest of needs (such as knowing the weather forecast), the importance of content to accurately answer those questions has grown in importance. Indeed, Google has adapted to this reality by consistently updating its platforms to better understand what a consumer wants with a basic search and rewards it with detailed content that serves that underlying purpose best.
The result is that publishing loads of mediocre content does little good anymore. Instead, your content has to be on-point and insanely relevant. And it has to reflect who you are as company. And that’s where many organizations right now seem to be struggling.
Indeed, many companies are having trouble keeping up with content demands, especially as new distribution channels have exploded. Only about a quarter of the 1,000 executives Accenture surveyed felt their organization were read to activate new distribution points, particularly those in social media, which develop and change very quickly.
Those changes are making it hard for companies to keep up. Three-quarters of the company executives Accenture surveyed said they will be increasingly turning to in-house talent to create their content. At the same time, many cited a lack of in-house talent as their main barrier to creating content. That Catch-22 is a result of the pace at which content is evolving.
Couple that with the data points finding that fewer than half of executives responsible for the content at their organization clearly understand the goals of their content; only 30% feel the content they produce is consistent in style and tone across channels, and less than a third believe their content reflects their company’s core values, and you’ve got a real problem.
“This gets back to one of the byproducts of ‘you are your content,’” Tuths says. “You better be sure of what you’re about.”
It’s time for companies to take the time to have a real understanding about who they are, what they mean to consumers and how they want to express that both internally and externally, Tuths says. That means developing a strategy that is authentic, credible and relevant.
“[Content] represents the major shift in power between entities and their audience,” Tuths says. “You need to understand what [consumers] care about and interact with them on that basis. … Ultimately, we have to understand what’s important to people and, if we do, that forms the basis for an economic exchange.”