Brands: A foundation to tell your story online

The idea of brand as publisher will begin to materialize this year.

The idea of brand as publisher will begin to materialize this year.

While brands creating content for mass consumption isn't a new concept, interest in and reasons for brands creating their own content and telling stories in social media will accelerate, driven by the insatiable appetite for content in social communities. 

Here are a few things to have in place as you address the new content needs of the social Web:

Social media inventory: Take inventory of social platforms. Knowing how many Facebook pages the brand has, who owns each Twitter feed, and having control of your company's branded YouTube channel is fundamental to knowing your content needs. 

Social media measurement program: To be effective, you need a baseline to measure the success of your content against – to know what works, what doesn't, and how to make necessary changes to your approach. From video views to clicks on a post, there are tools inherent to the platforms that help measure consumption of your social content. Certain conditions make relying on these metrics alone dubious, but they can give you a general sense of how well your content is being received and can indicate what changes to make to be more successful.

Content inventory: Understanding what exists – its format, content, and context – will ground your content program. This is content that the brand has already produced but that likely wasn't originally conceived of for use online. Whatever the source, this existing content should be reviewed, prioritized, catalogued, and considered when the brand is assessing its content assets.

Editorial calendar: Getting back to the concept of a brand as publisher, every social media program should be guided by an editorial calendar. The goal for your editorial calendar is to create the expectation of a continuous presence for the brand in social media. It's a schedule of content over time by social media channel. 

Staffing program: Staffing for content is as important as staffing for community management. Often the burden of creating content is lost in the negotiations over what will be created and where it will be used. Having a plan for identifying who from which department is responsible for what content will ensure that the needs of your editorial calendar are met.

As promotional offers expire and advertising campaigns fade, more companies will begin to turn focus to maintaining the one-to-one discussions of social media. The difficult truth of social media is that it has a beginning but no end. To be successful, we can't view social media as a campaign, but as a continuous program. And, to fill the valleys between marketing activities requires a dedicated approach to content.

Brad Mays is SVP of digital strategy and innovation for Fleishman-Hillard.

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