There’s a monster in this industry. One that makes us feel exhausted, frantic and like we can’t keep up. It’s a serious threat to our sanity and work. This monster is content. And not only did we create this monster, but we continue to feed it.
Content has become a buzzword. A buzzword so vague someone will say “we need content!” and you can interpret it a million different ways. We measure total engagements over meaningful interactions. We push, publish, spray and pray for a glimmer of hope that someone will see this “content” we created.
The idea that content is king has to go away (gasp).
It’s easy to understand why the industry invented the phrase “content is king”. Early on, social media needed little resources except for someone who could write good copy. Almost overnight though, the platforms turned visual. Suddenly, brands, teams
Fast forward to now and organizations, for the most part, understand that digital is an investment in creative too. Yes, we still have work to do when it comes to structuring teams and getting proper resources, but very few would argue that content isn’t important. We have come a long way.
And in this quest to build up content to others outside of digital, it seems that we also built up content in our own heads. It’s become the “everything”. We overproduce, over-publish, oversaturate the feeds. And, we’ve prioritized content at the expense of other things.
We’ve forgotten to breathe, pause and think.
It’s time to stop the content madness. We have to shake off the internal pressure to be everywhere, all the time. We have to rid the pressure of publishing and publishing often. We have to ignore the voices that say volume matters. It’s time to stop doing just for the sake of doing.
Why does this matter so much? First of all, social media has evolved. Long gone are the days where you can spray and pray. Thanks to algorithms, every decision made can impact impressions and reach. Additionally, consumers are smart, in control and inundated with a ton of “content”. They’ve become immune to anything that doesn’t entertain and engage them.
Everything is nuanced now. And because of that, when we “do for the sake of doing” we hurt our own reach. We dilute the quality of work. And, we make fans tune out.
With all the nuances today, the solution to success is a lot more than just “content is king”. Along with great creative and ideas, it takes purpose, planning, programming and packaging.
Social media has become cluttered thanks to the content revolution. And in sports, it’s often the sea of sameness. Very few teams actually own their brand narrative beyond the scores and pop culture memes.
It’s so important for teams to take the time to define their purpose. What is your brand strategy and how does that translate to social? If you can define this purpose, it will set your team apart from the rest.
A brand strategy becomes your North Star for how your brand should come to life through voice, tone, aesthetics and the stories you tell. When you have defined what your brand is and isn’t, long gone will be the days of posting just to post. You’ll have a clear vision for what needs to be produced.
Too often in social, we throw things at the wall. We test and we try, without understanding the why. But this fly-by approach makes it hard to map the work back to meaningful goals.
The best work comes with planning. Yes, we work in sports and have to react and be nimble, but there’s actually a lot we can plan and anticipate.
Once teams have a solid understanding of their brand strategy, it’s important to dive deeper into the content strategy. This is all about leveraging content for a purpose. Map back to the goals of the brand and find a way to bring to life the brand in a way that matters. It’s about setting parameters for what is worth the team’s time and what is not.
With purpose and planning, comes focus. And with focus, come quality work that matters. Take the time to pause and plan.
It seems like teams sometimes suffer from the fear of missing out. There’s a sense that we have to cover everything, all the time.
Batting practice and pregame warmups are a good example of this. Before every game, across every league, you are guaranteed to see the same exact pregame pictures and video over and over and over again. It becomes a tired story very quickly.
When we get in the mindset of covering, we start doing and dumping without understanding why. Think about Instagram on game days. So many times I see teams post upwards of 20 times and garner less than a 2% engagement rate. To me, that’s a serious flag that we need to give thought to content volume and distribution. A less than 2 percent engagement rate should show a serious need to pivot (and no, don’t blame it on the algorithm).
Instead of “covering” everything, think about how to “program” everything. Look at the totality of the season and curate a plan that shows every moment, every angle, every storyline over time. The *over time* is key here.
We don’t have to dump everything on fans all at once. We should consider what has already been covered, and offer up something different. If we plan, and curate smartly, we can unfold the story in a natural and organic fashion over time– without being intrusive to fans’ feeds.
How teams package their content has become as critical as the content itself. And, the approach to how content is packaged can play into the volume you produce and publish.
For example, let’s talk highlights on IG. So many times I see teams sharing more than five highlights from one single game. At some point, all the highlights look the same as I scroll through my feed. And forget the fact they’re often showing up days later thanks to the algorithm.
Instead of publishing five individual highlight posts, what if it could be packaged differently? What if after every game a team leveraged the Instagram carousel? By creative a “five plays of the game” carousel, teams can include design elements to make it unique to the brand. Sure, packaging content means that publishing might have to wait until after the game, but the product would be stronger, unique to your brand and less intrusive to your fans.
These are the things we have to think about.
If you want some inspiration, here are a few examples of how teams have packaged content:
I am by no means saying content doesn’t matter. It matters. And it matters a lot. There’s no such thing as a strong social presence without a strong creative arm today. But, we can no longer just post and pray. We have to be thoughtful, deliberate and strategic about our work. We have to define our purpose then plan, program and package.
Yes, content is still king in a lot of ways. The problem is your content won’t be seen if you don’t focus on the big picture and all the ins and outs. It’s about the totality of all the work — the strategy, the planning, the ideas, the execution.