Content is everywhere. It is as ubiquitous as the air we breathe and rich with knowledge and meaning.
The four million global inquiries sent to Google every minute reflects an insatiable hunger for information and entertainment. The epic rise of social media giants Facebook and Instagram shows an appetite for digital social connectivity.
The average New Zealand consumer owns 6.5 digital devices and spends 56 hours or 47 percent of their average waking hours a week on a digital device, according to IDC’s Consumer Scape 360 report.
We are immersed in the digital age, where we don’t make a decision without consulting the ‘fact-checker’ in our pockets. Many New Zealanders will go to popular online trading site Trade Me to buy and sell a house – the site boasts 4.2 million members.
Kiwis are increasingly using their devices for everyday activities. An Internet NZ survey with UMR Research shows that New Zealanders use the internet for social media (50 percent), to communicate with people (30 percent), for entertainment (34 percent), to get information and to learn (45 percent) and to do their banking (16 percent).
Given New Zealanders prolific use of their devices and consumption of content, organisations prepared to engage 24/7 are poised to seize a major opportunity.
Companies that can embody themselves in their content with authenticity are developing a genuine affinity with their audience. Content is how an organisation expresses itself or put another way is the voice of an organisation. So how do organisations own their voice, distribute it in a smart way, and ensure that it's of a high-quality?
Accenture’s research, You Are Your Content, revealed that content marketing was once a fringe movement, but now over 76 percent of companies surveyed are exploring it.
In this instance, the research defines content marketing as focused on topics of interest and audience delight, with the goal of growing deeper relationships. This is a marked shift from traditional advertising where products and services were the main focus.
Another factor keeping content at the centre of organisational concern is the continued decline of bricks-and-mortar activity and a corresponding increase in digital commerce.
In September this year, New Zealanders spent $340 million on online retail, an increase of seven percent from September 2016. This is double the growth rate for spending at local bricks and mortars stores, according to the monthly BNZ Marketview report.
So, how can you ‘own your voice’? Those surveyed in the Accenture research said it's important to take control of essential aspects of their content.
When content-first organisations were asked to explain how they are able to create high-quality content, respondents consistently cited talent: having the right level of creative talent aligned to content creation.
Traditionally, the weight has fallen heavily on marketing to generate new creative ideas. Yet the research shows that content-first organisations are calling on other employees who live the organisation’s core values, to input their ideas. Genuine content can be difficult to attain so companies should use every resource at their disposal.
Less than 20 years ago, the main content producers in New Zealand were TV1 and TV3, a number of radio stations, national and community newspapers, and a handful of monthly magazines.
Today, social platforms have democratised content; truly anybody can be a channel. Snapchat launched less than five years ago. Instagram has become the main marketing channel for many New Zealand small businesses.
It’s no surprise then that 82 percent of respondents describe the correctly targeted placement as key to driving business outcomes. In fact, almost three-quarters of organisations invest the majority of their budgets, up to 70 percent, on paid placement.
Organisations can stay relevant by meeting audiences on emergent platforms, or even leading them to new ones.
As it’s not practical to commit investment to every new platform, determining what will be the right distribution model requires experimentation, knowing your audience, and content defined by a clear sense of purpose and identity.
Consumers filter out the content they don’t want, and then consume the material they love obsessively. Indeed, you can be dismissed by the mere tap of a finger.
So, what defines quality content and how can you make your content stick? Demonstrated expertise, ethical transparency and innovation were the qualities which earn credibility in the eyes of consumers, according to the Accenture research.
Content must be a vital expression of an organisation’s purpose, and true to its lifeblood.
While there is no universal path to relevance, it begins by connecting content to an organisation’s most essential goals, kneading into the culture, and prizing the trust of an audience as a precious resource.
Ben Morgan is Accenture Interactive’s New Zealand lead.