Digital Marketing Strategy Development Part 3: Cohesion Of Content

We’ve been exploring digital marketing strategy over the past few weeks and fleshing out potential answers to common problems digital marketers, PR professionals, bloggers and SEOs experience.  Let’s continue this series with an element which is deceptively simple, yet in reality difficult to execute:  cohesion of content.  The problem I stated originally:

Lack of consistent voice/personality behind content will never allow you to build cohesion and have your ideas/perspective reach critical mass.  You need this in order to condition others to share your content.

When I say content – I mean it in the most general way possible:  everything from social interactions, to your blog, email campaigns, static website pages and all items in between.

The issue of cohesion presents unique problems – and solutions – for different groups.

For companies/brands:

The problem: how do you develop cohesion with multiple team members contributing to the web in different ways, all with their unique vantage points and creative ideas?

The solution: don’t try and create cohesion at the micro level, create it at the macro level.  Never micro-manage and hinder social participation, you’ll fail every time.  Instead, strategize and empower.  Then, find a way to bring the unique energies and viewpoints of your group together in a way where the total sum of content and communications makes something larger and has greater impact than the separate pieces.

Some team members will naturally have stronger voices than others.  Find a way to maximize the impact and reach of the strongest voices as they will have the highest propensity to spread.  Also have part of their tasks be to mentor those who may not be as confident or articulate.

For micro interactions in the web, it is inefficient and the wrong approach to approve everything.  Therefore, instead of worrying about cohesion of every single communication, put your trusted people out front and then let them go.  This is taking a macro approach instead of micro – the right people know how to maintain cohesion.  Look at the example of Matt Cutts – he is literally a force for good at Google and is just one person.  He’s trusted, sits at the intersection of PR and customer service and feels like a natural part of Google’s communication strategy even if that wasn’t the original intention for him.

If you need an example of a company who put their entire workforce out there publicly – under the cohesion of customer service – look at Zappos.  They have enough people communicating that simply by having that single unifying element, they’re able to penetrate the social web and be talked about consistently.  They’re so big – and their market is general enough that this works as their cohesion strategy.  If you’re smaller and trying to reach a niche market, your approach will need to be more refined.

For bloggers:

The problem: viewing your blog tactically – aka, publishing day-to-day without a longer-term strategy.

The solution: A simple piece of advice is to stop thinking like a writer, but from the executive standpoint.  Remember, you’re not just a blogger, but as Maki states – you are the editor in chief:

The editor-in-chief is the person who ultimately decides the content direction of the publication in the long run. Like a curator of some sort, the editor-in-chief determines what topics to cover in the editorial calendar and decides how content is arranged together in a way which coheres with the standards of the publication as well as its overall strategy/purpose.

The editor-in-chief is responsible for keeping up to date with reader needs, industry news and competitor publications. He/she is a specialist in analyzing and framing news sources in order to emphasize specific unique angles. This is the person who looks at a piece of writing, thinks beyond copy, and asks: How can I best use this to improve the publication as a whole?

Consider the overarching themes your content is communicating to readers and how slowly but surely your ideas paint larger pictures.  Another way to think of it is consider your blog as a never ending book with a finite thesis you plan to explore from infinite angles.  This will force you to create cohesion of content and also allow you tobe consistent in creating it.

Whereas companies have issues creating consistency of voice, this isn’t difficult for bloggers.  They don’t have to think about it,  they just do it.  Bloggers attain cohesion of voice because it’s always their words – edited only by themselves.  If you go to Rob Diana’s blog and click on any posts he wrote, you know it’s going to be in his voice and that it’s going to be interesting.  Not like he has to try to be Rob.  Which is why if you are a blogger, you have an advantage against almost all larger organizations producing content in your niche.  You can be more passionate, consistent and cohesive than any publication with a large staff.  It’s whether you choose to activate that advantage strategically or not that sets you apart.  Note – this can and is applied by tight knit groups of bloggers, it isn’t limited to individuals – you just need to all be on the same page.

For PR pros/marketers

The problem: your client or brand is always changing their mind/image/strategy

The solution: somehow, you need to get team members to buy into a longer term strategy if you hope for your digital marketing to have increasing returns.  Buzz is a vital element to digital PR, but spikes aren’t nearly as effective if they don’t have cohesion with your larger strategy.  You can’t expect to build influence, trust or authority in a market if you’re skipping from one thing to the next and others are headed down a clear, cohesive path.

Previously in this series: audience acquisition

Next in this series: placating executives/others by executing their bad ideas

image credit: ann triling via Shutterstock