Why content hubs should be part of your digital strategy
It’s a big decision for a business to create a branded content hub – as well as taking time to plan and construct, it requires a long-term commitment to maintain.
But a well-designed hub, aligned with a broader content strategy, is a thing of beauty and potentially an excellent driver of new business.
Why do I need branded content?
Content should be a pilar in any marketing strategy as an effective content strategy boosts audience engagement and increases leads.
Content hubs have become increasingly popular among Cannings Purple’s clients, particularly those in professional services.
It provides a platform to showcase expertise in a way that clearly links it with an organisation and with the right call to action, creates new leads.
An earned media strategy is important for reaching a wide audience, but branded content has a different kind of influence.
What does a good content hub look like?
The best hubs draw people in with timely thought leadership articles, then keep them on the site through highly engaging storytelling through a combination of videos, podcasts, data visualisation and written content.
Branded content hubs can be bolted on to existing websites but often they are most effective as a microsite linked to, but separate from, a company’s corporate website.
Cannings Purple’s own award-winning hub, The 268, is an example of a microsite.
But a key question to ask when developing a content strategy is, should the content be created in-house or is it better to outsource this element?
Why you should outsource content creation
Business owners may baulk at the idea of engaging people outside the organisation to create content, which is understandable.
After all, who knows the business better than you and your team?
But a branded content hub is a significant time commitment, let alone financial. You need to examine if your existing team suits the task and if it has the necessary capacity.
An internal team with the skill and capacity to properly curate the site provides agility that can’t be matched. But maintaining the hub to a high standard takes many hands, especially if technical expertise is also required.
The speed with which content projects can get underway through engaging a company like Cannings Purple turns an otherwise unviable project into a reality.
Cannings Purple recently created an attractive and engaging content hub for Bakertilly International. See the evolution below.
Outsourcing the creation of that content doesn’t mean losing editorial or quality control over it. From laying down a strategy and ideas, to the final checks before it goes live, the client is still in charge.
Journalists and media experts can give a different perspective and new ideas to help fine tune the angle and better sell it to an audience. They apply an objective eye and critical thinking to content that will ultimately help engage online visitors.
Specialists in content creation write well and produce high-quality digital media but they also have knowledge of technology trends to tell a story better.
Making the most of your investment
Goals for content hubs vary. Some are built with engagement in mind, capturing the interest of an audience and encouraging them to return for expertise and information. Others are created for the purpose of generating sales or leads.
When establishing goals, ensure measures are built in to record your progress. In the data-focused world, intuition from experience is important but having the numbers that confirm those insights are effective gives it extra substance.
Also consider your audience and how they best consume information.
Do you know if long-form feature articles are the best way to reach your audience? Are you in the business of dealing with complex figures and information that would be better conveyed through an infographic?
And don’t forget the power of video. We’re spending 3.7 hours a day on devices, and much of it watching videos.
But video doesn’t necessarily mean a talking head – applications can generate videos from text that can say the same words, yet be more engaging for the consumer.
Isn’t branded content just a blog?
A content hub isn’t a blog, although sometimes the terms are used interchangeably.
But generally, blogs have one voice and are often written in the first person, talking directly to customers, and they tend to be more informal.
Branded content hubs are usually bigger than a blog and more like an online news website, with multiple articles, videos and other rich content that helps sell expertise.
Blogs have their place in content marketing and are particularly useful for updating readers and stakeholders about projects or quickly reacting to relevant topics.
But the best execution for rich storytelling coupled with thought leadership, content that makes compelling reading, is through a content hub.
A well-executed content hub carries authority. It’s a place that people – read, potential clients – will turn to for analysis or in-depth discussions on topics explored by the experts your company possesses.
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