If a piece of content is published on the internet and no one reads it, does it make a sound? Yes, definitely—and the sound is your CEO’s voice saying, “What does this content team really do here, anyway?”
A dark joke? Maybe.
But it’s rooted in reality. In my role as head of B2C content at Monster, my ultimate goal is to get people to come to our site to search for and apply for jobs. I won’t accomplish these objectives if no one sees our content. So I can’t simply focus my team on creating really awesome content; we also need to be thinking about how to get that really awesome content in front of really awesome people (aka those “qualified leads” everyone is talking about).
Problem is, thinking simultaneously about creation and distribution is challenging in today’s omnichannel world, where people consume content via search, email campaigns, brand advertising, social media (paid and unpaid), PR placements, referrals, influencers, recommendation engines, syndications, RSS feeds, et cetera, et cetera ad nauseam. You could drive yourself into lunacy by trying to create content for every possible channel.
I choose sanity. And so, upon starting my job at Monster 18 months ago, I spent some time mapping the categories of content we wanted to create to the distribution methods we wanted to pursue. The goal was to maximize the value of what the team could manageably produce to hit as many of the distribution levers as we possibly could. And the result was a three-pillar strategy called “How? Now. Wow!” that has helped supercharge two key content KPIs: growing page views on content by 18 million and conversions to job search by 28% in 2016 over 2015—and has likely saved me some significant money on therapy.
Hopefully, asking these questions will do the same for you.
When I first made the shift from journalism to content marketing, I did a ton of reading on the subject. What became clear to me right away—and a special shout out to Jay Baer and Joe Pulizzi here—was that utility content reigns supreme in creating value for a brand’s customers. Know what your audience needs, then fulfill those needs, and you’ll build loyalty.
With Monster’s slogan being “Find Better,” it’s no accident then that the biggest and most important category of content we create is called How?—which represents how-to content about jobs, job search, and career management.
Helping people figure out how to write a powerful resume, how to find the perfect job, how to ace the interview, how to negotiate salary, and how to manage a career is the added value that helps differentiate us from our competitors. By providing service, we’re inserting humanity into the sometimes-inhumane process of job search.
There are two different kinds of How? content for us. First there’s the content created especially for search—which starts with looking at what bottom-of-funnel keywords we want to rank for, and then understanding what people are searching for around those keywords. That might include articles on things like explaining a resume gap or answers to common interview questions.
Second, there is the content we create for clicks, the “how to” that people didn’t know they needed, but that they’ll click on when they see it, like what to do when your job is keeping you up at night or salary negotiation tips from an FBI hostage negotiator. That content does well for us in social, in our newsletter, and via paid recommendation engines like Taboola and Outbrain.
Read Monster’s Q&A about salary negotiation with former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss.
We’re in a new era of content wherein brands have access to many of the same distribution methods as publishers. And meanwhile, publishers don’t have that much more perceived authority or integrity than brands. A 2014 survey from Vibrant Media found that 32% of people said they trusted content that comes from a brand versus 35% who trust content that comes from a publisher.
As a former journalist, this kind of depresses me. But as a current content marketer, I’m psyched. We have the opportunity to reach our target audiences by playing in the same sandbox.
That’s where the second biggest bucket of Monster content comes in. Now. is news-, trend-, or data-driven content that builds authority, while helping make your brand seem current. Intercept the stories of the day, layer in your own expertise and data, and look like you have your fingers on the pulse of your industry.
To compete with publishers, you need to act like a publisher—which is why our Now. team, which includes two staff writers, holds a 15 minute meeting every morning to discuss the headlines of that day. These writers are ready to turn on a dime to write about new labor legislation, the BLS employment situation report, employer news, trends, flashpoints, or companies hiring. They dig into Monster’s proprietary data to add in information like how many jobs we have in a relevant topic area. They also tap Monster’s experts for quotes and salient advice.
Monster published “Catch a Pokémon job while you’re swept up in the latest tech craze”
days after Pokémon Go was released.
Our Now. content serves several distribution gods. The primary one is social. When news breaks, the conversation happens often on social media. So we can be there in that mix. But our news content also is very appealing for our syndication partners, which include Fortune.com, FastCompany.com, Mic.com, and more than 1,000 local newspapers. It also can help power our PR engine, as we might work to take what we’re writing about and get a company spokesperson out in the press talking about the issue, or they might transform data we’ve unearthed into a pitch for a story the company gets credit for.
This last category is probably the hardest to explain, but Wow! refers to content created specifically for social engagement, for our own site, or specific social platforms. So this is content that is typically more visual, like infographics, quizzes, humor, images, GIFs, funny videos, and emotional first-person stories.
I think of this kind of content as being less about delivering conversions and more about building brand. Wow! content (about 10% of our mix) often gives us an opportunity to be more fun as well, so that we’re not seen as simply the earnest mentor—but the one you’d enjoy talking with over a beer.
Often times, we’ll take one Wow! concept across multiple social platforms. An example of that is the jokey cooking videos we made on the recipes for a perfect cover letter and resume that we published to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, besides embedding them in posts on our own site.
Other times—like with this superhero infographic that we tied to the release of the Batman v Superman movie—we’ll start with one master and build versions of it that are more platform specific. The goal is to get the most leverage out of one asset that we can, vs. making lots of one-off assets. We’ll also sometimes publish content both on our own site and off-site, like a funny and heartfelt memoir series on life after layoffs that ran on Monster.com and later on Medium. This way, we get our work in front of both the people who will come to our site and the people who don’t know us yet.
So, in sum, we’ve got How? for utility, Now. for news and Wow! for emotion—and every week we make sure we’re hitting all three notes here at Monster to create a diverse portfolio of content types and distribution channels. As a site that has “all the jobs for all the people,” we’ve got a pretty big task in front of us to build brand awareness among all the people. How? Now. Wow! has definitely helped us head toward that goal—while simultaneously keeping us sane. Well, mostly, anyway.
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