Digital content strategy: Are you a thought leader, content owner or storyteller?

The digital content strategy, or strategies, that every business chooses to adopt will vary greatly depending on each brand’s values, mission and goals.

To support and further your business goals you’ll need to focus on creating valuable content, which is achieved by understanding your audience’s wants and needs and implementing them. But how can we become effective content creators? And how do we know the digital content strategy that is going to work best for our businesses?

We’ve taken a look at each digital content strategy to help you identify the one that will be most suitable for you and your brand.

Thought leader

This digital content strategy focuses on giving your audience what they need. The role of a thought leader is to draw people in, influence their choices, maintain their interest and, most importantly, get them to act.

As always, your content needs to add value; a thought leader is perceived by their audience as the go-to provider and creator of knowledge – they’re an expert in their field.

As well as gaining the trust of their audience and meeting their demands, a thought leader also needs to utilise the “efficient funnel” process when creating content:

Step one: Awareness – opening doors, raising questions and explaining choices

Step two: Interest – engaging audiences by generating valuable content

Step three: Influence – using expertise to convince people that your business can help them

Step four: Action – people will invest in your product or service

Hubspot is a great example of this strategy. Hubspot entices marketers by offering something new and by creating interesting blog posts that its audience can learn from and, through this method, it’s able to gain its audience’s trust and meet their demands.

People purchase products from Hubspot because they prove that it’s an informed brand that pioneers good ideas through the creation of valuable content.

Content owner

This strategy doesn’t mean “owning” content in terms of copyright purposes, but in terms of producing content that makes people aware. As a content creator, you need to listen to your audience and understand their interests, so market research is a vital component of this strategy.

One of the key factors of being a successful content creator is trust; your audience needs to be able to see you, the content owner, as a platform that enables their understanding and awareness of your products and services. You need to be publishing content that sparks a discussion, raises questions and provides choices.

A great example of a content owner is Airbnb. As a brand, its website offers the audience something new and useful; it connects the world through advertising places to stay, giving the opportunity to be a host and widening customer choice. Thanks to Airbnb’s huge volume of accommodation options, its audience trusts them.

Without being bombarded with information or feeling pressured into making a purchase, users are provided with a wealth of information. As a successful content owner, Airbnb is easy to use, trustworthy and generates great choices.

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Storyteller

As a storyteller, the scope for creativity is endless. Storytellers create campaigns that people can resonate with on an emotional level, but they don’t necessarily need to have a call to action; this strategy is more focused on tapping into people’s subconscious in order to influence them into making an emotional connection.  

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign established the brand as a storyteller many years ago, with a goal to inspire audiences by championing a healthy mind, body and spirit – no matter what shape or size. The level of “realness” of these sketches was massively successful, as Dove showed that it understood that an image-obsessed culture causes negativity and insecurity.

It created a demand for empowering men and women in their self-image and how they feel about their bodies by using real people with real stories in the campaign. As a storyteller, the aim of this campaign wasn’t for Dove to sell a particular product or have a certain call to action, it was simply trying to inspire audiences and promote a healthier body image. Now, the brand is recognised as a pioneer for real beauty.

Stories can have a different focus and a content creator in this strategy might choose to have multiple stories in one campaign. Customer stories, stories of the employees or even the future of the brand are all routes that are able to emotionally connect with an audience.

Which digital content strategy is right for you?

When it comes to choosing a digital content strategy, there is no right or wrong path. In fact, you might find that a mix or combination of all three strategies will work best for your brand.

For example, blending thought leader and storytelling is an effective way to share information whilst adding value in an emotive and personal way. To be successful, you need to know what your customers and audience want and, from that, share the right content at the right time.

Claire Wilson is content strategy director at Stratton Craig

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