At the Social Media Strategies Summit this week, I had the pleasure and privilege to perform the opening keynote for the conference. One of the most important pieces of advice I gave out in the talk was about core values and your content marketing. If you recall the SHIFT Earned Media Hub Strategy, one of the first steps in the content creation process is messaging and branding:
What’s not immediately obvious in this step is that your core values must be an integral part of your message creation process. For example, SHIFT’s seven core values are:
Zappos states their values as:
- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More With Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
In each of these examples, the corporate core values are easy to understand. The reason they are so vital to content marketing is that they specify what kinds of content you should create, and more importantly, what kinds of content you cannot create.
For example, there’s a well-known clothing designer and manufacturer whose content strategy is taking topical events and turning them into social marketing pitches. They’ve taken a couple of tragic, horrible events and made them into crass social media pitches for selling their products. While the tactic is effective in getting them attention, it’s not something that SHIFT would ever do because that fundamentally violates one of our core principles, honorable.
Having your core values be compact, easy to understand, and meaningful gives “guard rails” for your content marketing strategy. If you’re working on an infographic at Zappos and you’ve got some data that contradicts a main point, the value of Open and Honest Relationships With Communication should override the expedient tactic of simply ignoring something you don’t agree with.
Ask yourself this: how often do you consult your core values when you’re creating content? The more you can integrate them into your workflow and creation process, the more likely you will create content that has a consistent voice and point of view. You’ll also be less likely to create PR and marketing disasters that deeply offend people if you’re constantly checking to make sure your content is aligned with your values.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Strategy