May 5, 2014

Co-creation: 7 steps to the next evolution of content marketing


Target audience: Digital marketers, brand managers, advertising agencies, business decision-makers, SEO specialists, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

JD LasicaIt’s now high tide for wave one of the content marketing trend: the idea that businesses should attract and retain customers by creating and curating relevant, valuable content.

But training marketers to create tons of content, or hiring journalists to be your brand’s storytellers, only gets you so far.

Get ready for the second wave of content marketing: co-creation.

“The next wave of content marketing is getting the community to create content,” Jennifer Burnham, director of social strategy & content marketing at Salesforce, told 35 attendees at “Who’s Kicking Ass: 3 Mini Content Marketing Case Studies,” held last week at Impress Labs, a digital marketing agency in San Francisco.

I was particularly attracted to her message because that’s what our new startup, Cruiseable, is attempting to do: get the community to be part of the content creation process.

All you need is the will, the smarts & a passion for community

Jennifer laid out a simple 7-step program that any business, small or large, can implement, if you have the will, the smarts — and a gene for community engagement.

Jennifer Burnham: “The next wave of content marketing is getting the community to create content.”

Jennifer Burnham: “The next wave of content marketing is getting the community to create content.”

1Decide who you’re targeting. Too many companies skip over this step, but think long and hard about who you’d like to woo. You can’t attract everybody, so narrow your focus and understand who you want to reach. “Where are they spending their time?” she asked. “What websites or publications are they reading?”

2Find your heroes. Identify the right few individuals who can be passionate advocates, evangelists, champions for your brand. A small number of individuals, even if they have a relatively modest social following, can start to move the needle for your bottom line.

3Invite them into the ecosystem. Don’t be wishy-washy and ask them to “support” you. Be specific and structure the program! Tell them, We’re looking for thought leaders, and we’d like you to please submit a guest blog post of this length by this date — boom. “If you give them that level of specificity, they’re in or they’re out, and you’ll start to get the dialogue going,” she said. Tell them the specific benefits they’ll receive by participating: brand association, link-backs to your site, greater visibility, better SEO, possibly even freebies and discounts.

4Create a communication cadence. Make sure you stay in touch. “Don’t go dark,” she said. “Talk to them at least twice a month.” That level of communication seems to work well for the guest blogger program Jennifer set up at Salesforce. Bring them into an Editorial Calendar, share topics you’d like them to write about and set expectations for when they should deliver their next post.

5Co-create together. Bring these brand advocates into your content management system and let them create drafts. “It becomes a real bonding experience,” she said, giving them a feeling that they’re part of your extended team. Think about all the different kinds of ways you can repurpose that one piece of content: on Slideshare, on Pinterest, on LinkedIn.

6Co-promote shamelessly. “Let them put all their social muscle behind it,” she said. Use social tools to spread the word on your networks and theirs. (I like to use GaggleAMP, HootSuite and Buffer for this.)

7Repeat and refine. Coach your influencers and keep improving your program. You won’t get it perfect the first time out, but with repeated use you’ll eventually arrive at a process that works for everyone and benefits your bottom line.

What do you think of Jennifer’s advice?

Image at top by Innovation Lab on Flickr (CC BY)

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  • joyebroad

    I have read your post and this really informative on Co-creation.