Why Content Is King (and Queen)
by Melanie Brandman | July 17, 2017
So, I have something to confess…
I’ve chosen hotels based solely on their Instagram accounts. Crisp, beautiful photos? Clever point of view? Curated and rich landscapes? I’m there.
But chances are, you’ve done the same thing.
Content is the new face to the world. And make no mistake: Instagram feeds are content. So are Facebook statuses, YouTube videos, Snapchat stories, and anything else that showcases your property or location.
With the growing importance of content and social media, The Brandman Agency has announced the launch of its new division, Brandman Digital. Leading this expansion will be our newly appointed Director of Digital Strategy, Tanya Blum. Who will be bringing her expertise in social media, content production, influencer relations, blogging and website design, along with new technology such as virtual and augmented reality to the hospitality industry.
The connection between a consumer and content is incredibly powerful if—and it’s a big “if”—the content is properly executed. But first there are a few dimensions to consider.
The True Meaning of Content
Don’t let the name confuse you. In 2017, social media is media. And people who excel on social, whether writers, photographers, copy editors or designers, are content producers. Meg Nolan, founder of Friend of a Friend Consulting, says worthwhile content is “original, authentic, and informative,” and you must seek out creatives who can guarantee on those three pillars.
Authenticity is key—never force a message. Just because one property perfectly executed a campaign about a pool party doesn’t mean your safari outfitter should attempt the same.
Own Your Channels
Take control over your social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the list goes on) and the benefits are threefold: develop your own messaging; forge a tighter connection with consumers; and deepen your brand voice.
How exactly you divvy up responsibilities between PR, marketing or advertising teams is less critical than ensuring your voice stays in tune. “It drives me crazy when I see a brand do carefully curated work on an organic Facebook feed, and then a Facebook ad with a completely different look or copy that sounds off,” says travel and luxury lifestyle consultant Peter Frank, who stresses that excellent communication supports consistent brand messaging.
How You Can Win
Of course, with these new content avenues comes another C word: cost. We’re still in the early days of influencer marketing and multiple platforms, so you must set out achievable, measurable goals and decide what would make the most impact for key stakeholders.
Fashion illustrator and influencer Meagan Morrison (@travelwritedraw) says companies can win by putting together case studies: “Showcase the ROI, and once you start building up those stacks of cases, they can be used to help get people on board.”
Plus, a small reallocation of funds could result in seismic shifts: Instead of a traditional corporate photographer, why not consider a social-first photographer or influencer to capture your brand through a new lens?
What You’ll Pay
When expenses range from creative ideation and implementation to execution and promotion, content development isn’t one-price-fits-all. However, working with the right, targeted influencers who do their research before stepping on property is crucial. Be prepared to provide them with similar benefits you’d give a journalist, including airfare, hosting, meals, and so on.
Also, remember to look around your own office. You likely already have social media-savvy internal team members who are natural ambassadors for your brand. Don’t ignore them; empower them and listen to their ideas.
Where to Deploy
New to the content game? Build up one channel at a time. Abundance to work with? Create a content calendar and strategically deploy across traditional and social media, brochures, website materials, branding documents, and collateral.
And don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Jason Schmidt and Cory Jacobs, the husband-and-wife team behind Cottage Eight Films, believes short-form video is imperative for social-first marketing. “Our approach is about creating authentic shorts that do not employ the typical drone photography you see so often in travel and lifestyle,” they say. “For us, it’s about communicating what a place feels and sounds like in an editorial and intimate way—and in turn, making you feel you should be there, too.”
Keep the Ball Rolling
If you’re working with an influencer, be clear upfront about who owns the rights to the produced work. The goal is to make content development ongoing and collaborative, rather than a one-off event. The ideal result? Organic content creation authentic to both brands. Great content should have a long tail, whether through multiple executions or a new relationship with a talented creator. Once you master the key facets of creating memorable content—who, what, when, where, and why—you’ll unlock all its benefits.
Tanya Blum recommends that your social media channels “become an online destination where consumers can find unique and creative content that sets you apart. Not only does original content give consumers a reason to check back on your page, it also helps with your SEO strategy.”
And fair warning, if you see me like your property’s gorgeous Instagram photo—I just might be on my way.