The new report from communications consultancy Omnia Partners and data sourced from news aggregator Slipcase analyses the key elements of what makes content stand out:
Users are turning increasingly to content from individuals and businesses they know and respect, and away from reports and articles which lack proprietary insight. This content may generate distrust as generic opinions are recently being linked with AI-generated content. At the same time, users are becoming more strongly attracted both to fact-based news releases and to content shared through podcasts or video.
Among the different audiences highlighted in Slipcase’s data, there was a particular interest in new channels of communication from the C-suite. In a year-on-year comparison between Q1 2022 and Q1 2023, C-suite podcast consumption rose by 146%. In the same period, consumption of video-based comms increased by 40% among C-suite users.
And C-suite are not alone in this. Visual content marketing has emerged as an incredibly effective way to display content in a simple way that translates to consumers. The role played by formats like TikTok, Instagram Reels, Snapchat stories and YouTube shorts as sources of news and information speaks for itself.
These campaigns, however, rarely go far on their own. As Laura Clare, Senior Communications Director at Snap, explains: “Organic virality is a unicorn. Yes, you need great, engaging content. But if you want real reach, you likely need some real spend.”
Financial backing is not the only driver of success. As Slipcase discovered in their research for this report, over half of the content produced by businesses featured on Slipcase is consumed between 7-10am.
According to the report, to reach the highest levels of engagement and the best coverage of content, businesses need to be landing on top of the consumer’s news feeds during their commute or as they open their laptops for the day.
This trend also translates into how people are designing their content. Graham Ruddick told us: “The media is competing not just with each other but for time. We keep our podcasts under 30-40 minutes so that people can enjoy them in one journey.”
Good leadership can be make-or-break for a successful comms campaign.
In a landscape increasingly dominated by video and audio formats, charismatic individuals leading from the front, with strong communication skills and challenging or memorable opinions are more successful.
Alex Jones, Head of Communications at Aon UK, said “It’s really important that our senior leaders are visible and seen as a cohesive group who are collectively driving the business forward. It helps colleague motivation and forms and evolves culture within the organisation.”
For many businesses, policing what is produced is a battle that was lost before it began. Content on social media evolves so quickly, with firms tagged in posts voicing opinions, and further engagement with the wider public snowballing without moderation or review.
Discussing these challenges, Alessandra Almeida Jones, Chief Marketing Officer at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, says: “I think if the guard rails are put up it's to inform and to ensure that people remain on strategy, talking on the topics they are in a position to talk about.
“And the social media policy needs to be very explicit in terms of what is your responsibility, so even though you are tweeting, the moment you join an organization, your personal views are totally hidden. You are like Banksy, right?”
Once you have established a crack team of brand ambassadors and provided them with an agreed set of talking points, it is important to use them. Much has been written of the power of AI to revolutionise the way we create content. But firms must resist the urge to let it do the lion’s share of the work.
Anne Blackman, Global Head of Marketing and Communications at McKinsey & Company, agrees. “Elbow grease is still admired when dealing with ideas. For me this is where AI-backed professional service firm content may face an integrity problem, as it will be difficult to prove that one has put in the necessary effort where an AI tool has done the analysis”.
There is undeniably a place for AI, but that place is as a foundation to be developed upon with human-generated insight and rounded out with relevant data that generates trust and communicates expertise.
Taking all of this on board, successful businesses are likely to have three strategic priorities:
Embrace truth: Fact-checking and rigorous verification processes should be an integral part of content creation. Companies can build trust with their stakeholders only if they consistently deliver reliable and accurate information. Organisations’ growing use of press releases shows that some are already embracing more fact-based ways of publicising activity, and that social media alone is not enough.
Demonstrate authenticity: Companies have to communicate a clear brand voice and values. Transparency and consistency in communication are key to connecting with audiences on a deeper level.
Showcase talent: While AI can be used to streamline content production, companies still need to showcase the talent present within the business. Creative insights from industry experts at every level help establish brand credibility and invite engagement.
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