Curating Digital Content—Control vs. Collaboration in a Consumer-Driven Paradigm

30 November 2010

In the first wave of the digital marketing revolution, companies had to come to terms with the fact that they now share brand power with their customers. Consumer-generated content reigned, and some marketers began to wonder how much control they were going to have to acquiesce to the rising groundswell. But this was just the first phase in an ongoing negotiation between customer and company. The pendulum is swinging back to intelligent and shared control, and the time is now for companies to move from just co-creating to actively curating content in a way that boosts the brand.

To explore how to strike this balance, the CMO Club convened Dolby’s Vice President of Global Communications Catherine Ogilvie and Netflix Global Corporate Communications lead Catherine Fisher in a discussion moderated by Velocidi CEO David Dunne.

One thing to note is that this discussion was led by two corporate communications professionals. Some would argue that PR plays a natural role in content curation because the discipline focuses on earned discussions rather than paid-for discussions. While the explicit discussion of where PR and marketing overlap was not raised on this panel, the panelists’ perspectives were uniquely suited to the topic.

What the discussion did focus on were undeniable trends: audiences expect both real-time and high-quality engagement. Professionally produced content is certainly high-quality, but lacks immediacy. On the other hand, consumer-generated content is immediate (and authentic in the rawest form), but lacks quality. A fierce consensus quickly emerged: we no longer fear this change.  Better insights, free marketing, and a more elegant way to participate in word-of-mouth? What’s not to love? So the question is, how do we curate content that remains real-time, authentic and high-quality?

For Netflix, a fundamentally B2C company, the guiding principles are to engage your audiences on digital platforms where they already are (Facebook) and talk about what they’re already passionate about (movies) and find natural ways to insert corporate messages (streaming services) that feel organic.  “What works best is showing up and talking and being transparent [with our consumers],” Fisher observed. “We keep the conversation going, and they become our brand ambassadors.”

For Dolby, a predominantly B2B company, the context is quite different. Dolby is a company with admirable brand awareness, but few actually know what all the company does. So for Dolby, the challenge is all about storytelling, and to leverage the power of social media to get the word out about what the companies does. “Personalization is key,” noted Ogilvie. “You have to give people a framework to use, and then create the content and evolve it over time.”

The hardest question remains metrics. As one attendee observed, “It sounds like the content that’s the most meaningful and high-impact is the hardest to track financially. Smaller companies can’t invest in content creation that isn’t founded in solid ROI.”

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