Rebecca Lieb is an analyst at Altimeter Group. She covers content marketing, content strategy, digital advertising and media. Before that, she launched and oversaw Econsultancy’s U.S. operations, and was VP and Editor in Chief of the ClickZ Network.
She taught at NYU’s Center for Publishing, and has published two books – The Truth About Search Engine Optimization and Content Marketing – and numerous professional research studies. She also speaks regularly at professional conferences and appears as a commentator on broadcast outlets such as CNN, CNBC, Fox News, Bloomberg TV, BBC and more.
Let’s talk about content. What do you mean when you refer to a “Culture of Content”?
A Culture of Content (CoC) exists within an organization when the importance of content is evangelized enterprise-wide, content is shared and made accessible both internally and externally, creation and creativity are encouraged, and content flows both up and downstream, as well as across various divisions.
Content creation has typically fallen within the domain of marketing, but subject matter experts come from all over the organization – product, research, senior management, and beyond. For example, a customer service rep knows better than the social media team what problems or complaints customers have. Sales staff, whether working on the floor at a retailer or peddling a high-tech, long-consideration-cycle product, know what their customers need to learn at various stages of the buying cycle.
A Culture of Content resembles an engine in that it streamlines content production and workflows, but also a circulatory system in that it is inherently about sharing, ideation, and distributing the value of content across everyone involved. A strategic, systematized CoC results in more than just better marketing, but it requires strong leaders with a clear vision to enact and support it.
How do you show a return on investment for building an internal CoC?
Content strategy is about how we’re going to show success. Sales numbers aren’t always the best way to measure content marketing. Nor are volume metrics in social media (e.g., likes, follows, comments, shares). You must show metrics that demonstrate business results.
For example, the customer service department at a large electronics company was getting a high volume of customer calls about one particular television. An employee wrote a post for the company blog addressing the questions people had about that particular model. The post got 14,000 views in a relatively short period of time, proving that customers were looking for that information and finding it without having to call the CS center. Since every call costs the company about $7.00, and many of those who visited the page likely didn’t have to make a call, it’s easy to run those numbers and show a tremendous cost savings realized as a direct result of one employee taking the initiative to create some content based on the questions he or she was answering every single day. And who better to identify the need for that content and answer it most accurately than a customer service representative? Without an internal Culture of Content that encourages and rewards that kind of sharing and initiative, that company would never have seen this cost savings.
What are some brands that are succeeding particularly well with CoC, and how can others achieve the same level of success?
You can tell by the success of their external content marketing who’s reached full maturity in terms of CoC. These are the brands that have managed to actually monetize their content and have made it into a secondary revenue stream – Red Bull, Coca Cola, and a rare few others. I actually don’t think most organizations need to aspire to this level of content marketing, though. The “sweet spot” for most brands is the point at which the company is seriously committed to content marketing with sustainable, meaningful and scalable content initiatives that infuse the organization both internally and externally. This includes a strong internal system of knowledge sharing and collaboration among employees across departments and job functions.
What are some of your hobbies?
Well, in my copious free time (ha!), I enjoy watching hyper-obscure movies. I’m a former film critic with a M.A. degree in Cinema Studies, so it’s obviously one of my passions. I’m also fond of scouring the outer boroughs of New York City for southeast Asian cuisine. I have to say the food is one of the best perks of living in NYC.
You can follow Rebecca on Twitter @lieblink.
This post is part of a series of profiles on some of our favorite social business, knowledge management, employee engagement, sales & marketing, and customer support experts.