The Viennese communications consultant Ivana Baric-Gaspar, founder of Keen Communication, talks about the criteria for successful content marketing, new tasks for PR managers, the storytelling competence of publishers and what companies have to do to cope with the exceedingly short attention span of Facebook users.
WEKA Industry Media: Actually, content marketing is a comparatively long-lived buzzword from the communications industry that has enriched the vocabulary of experts for years. Nevertheless, one has the impression that the term is not properly delimited. Some associate it with marketing, others with press relations. So what is content marketing really?
Ivana Baric-Gaspar: The impression is correct. Content marketing is defined differently - depending on who defines it. I would describe content marketing as a truly interdisciplinary communication strategy that draws its effect from an interplay of different genres: Marketing, Public Relations - and very importantly: the optimisation of content for digital dialogue, such as SEO.
WEKA Industry Media: However, it will not be easy for the individual responsible for communication to fill out this whole range of disciplines: suddenly, he or she must not only be able to write, but also think in terms of keywords, he or she must deal with marketing and, best of all, with visual presentation. So what skills do those people who are responsible for communication in companies need to develop in particular?
Baric-Gaspar: Most communication managers undoubtedly have very good copywriting skills, and they also have the right personal networks, for example with journalists, to be able to distribute their content accordingly. But what is indispensable for effective content marketing is above all to empathise with the digital media consumption of customers and to find out where these customers get their digital information in the first place. This is not easy, because it is subject to constant change. So you have to take the customer's perspective and anticipate their digital behaviour so that you can get through with the content. And in addition, you also have to deal with the algorithms of the search engines.
The communication officer must therefore be an expert on practically everything.
One person alone will have a hard time. You need a generalist who has a team that deals with these individual segments.
What role does the Content marketing to publishers?
If there is anyone who has an understanding and experience of audiences and how to distinguish stories from digital noise, it is media. They can extract the essence of a story in such a way that it is relevant to readers. And a story is relevant when it promises to solve a problem for the reader. We need to be aware again and again: People type questions into the Google search bar, not product names. And that's where publishers can also use their experience, telling stories tailored to digital media can be helpful.
The average Western European now travels 100 metres a day with his thumb - scrolling through his Facebook newsfeed or Twitter timeline. That leaves little time for complexity. So what should companies do that have complex topics to sell and still want to be present on social media platforms?
It makes no sense at all to try to impose the usual rules of content distribution on a platform. There are companies that put all their press releases on Facebook one-to-one. That doesn't help at all. Because the user is not on Facebook because he acts differently on Facebook. Enforcing a habitual break won't work with the mass of content on such platforms. If you already have complex content, you have to use such networks alone as virtual lures to attract people to your own pages.
A few weeks ago, the new, ad-free social media app Vero was hyped, Facebook is part of the digital inventory of most companies anyway, plus Twitter. It would be good to be represented on Instagram and those responsible for communications should also take a look at Pinterest. Do companies really have to be active everywhere?
No. Here, too, the central idea of content marketing must take effect: to consider where my target group is most receptive to my content - and very important: that I also have the right content formats ready. If I don't produce anything that can be represented pictorially, then there's no point in being on Instagram. If I don't have the staff capacity to regularly use Twitter as a medium of the moment, then I shouldn't be there either.
Thank you very much for the interview!