This time about a year ago, I was fortunate enough to be at WPPs Digital Stream – an ‘unconference’ that brings together digital lovers, believers, thinkers and innovators. It was a hot 40+ degree day and I was shaking in my boots as I prepared to host a group discussion about content. I posed the question: “If content is king, what is queen?” The answer was surprising, but what I’ve found to be true: there is no answer. Content is a different property depending on who or what you represent and what you are trying to achieve.  Therefore deciding what’s second must first be decided by what’s first.

Fast forward a year and Mumbrella’s CommsCon programme features a content marketing slot and a full house of inquisitive communications professionals waiting to discover the secret behind the marketing concept that’s turning the industry on its head. Although, what I’ve come to discover from 12 months of conversations about content is, if in fact the term in itself is so broad, how can there be one secret to success?

A perfect example is the presentations given for this session – a content marketing campaign, a media spend and partnership and a clever PR campaign amplified heavily through social media. Each campaign successful in their own way, but signify diverse interpretations of content marketing and also the ongoing debate or discussion around where content marketing fits in the broader media picture.

I did manage to get consistent learnings from all presentations, including the next session on Social Media Trends and Audiences:

  • James Chalmers, Editor, Mahlab Media made a strong point of taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture – it’s not necessarily about what your brand or company engages with on a daily basis but rather the broader space it sits within. That’s where you’ll find interesting stories to tell
  • Access costs nothing but allows storytelling to thrive and succeed in an editorial context. Be open to allowing your agencies access to your brand and people. You’d be surprised by what can be uncovered
  • 82 per cent of Facebook users are on mobile. If your content is not mobile optimised, you’re missing a chunk of your audience and threatening your success rates
  • Richard Spencer, Head of Agency, iSentia Two Social summed up the power of the audience/consumer: “look for relevance and/or context between what you want to say and what they’re interested in”

It’s always interesting to me to get an idea of what communications professionals consider to be “content”, but I always find there are strong consistencies – audience, storytelling, video, amplification, social media and less of a focus on brand and more on brand space.

Recapping on conversations from the past 12 months, it’s clear that we’re all still in the midst of discovery and definition of content in media and marketing. While we’ve always been telling stories, we need to acknowledge the audience now more than ever. Content consumption is varied, audiences are smarter and attention spans are shorter.

Keep it short, sharp, visually compelling and always put the audience first. To answer my own question, the content isn’t king, it is queen. Audience is king.