It’s content but not as you know it

So here we are in an age where content is king or queen. And here at One, most of our clients are engaging with some form of content planning and calendar development. It can take many forms and reaches B2B and B2C customers at all stages of their buying journey.

Obviously, there are many principles guiding what content organisations should share, but those that stand out have seven key characteristics:

• Easy to understand
• Useful
• Widely accessible
• Consistent
• Up-to-date
• Factual
• Relevant

And this got me thinking…

Content is the buzzword of the moment amongst marketers. I say ‘of the moment’, advisedly, because it was all about ‘big data’ a few years ago, before Cambridge Analytica imploded. Who knows what trend will sweep across the marketing landscape next year. In fact, content planning has been present in our lives for years and years. It’s been surreptitiously creeping into our front rooms in consistent and familiar guises, both visually and aurally, for years. Content existed before social platforms, the internet, even text-enabled mobile phones (yes, I’m old enough to remember these modern Dark Ages).

Soap operas have been developing long-term content schedules for years in order to stay, here’s that word again, “relevant”. They are perhaps one of the most trusted platforms for delivering commentary, opinion and interpretation across a huge swathe of topics and issues which affect us all, tapping into the news agenda and factors that influence the opinions of millions. Whether it’s acid attacks in Emmerdale, Eastenders focusing one entire episode on sexual consent and rape culture, Coronation Street imminently tackling homophobia in football or The Archers tackling food waste and poverty, soap opera editorial teams have long recognised that the way to engage their audiences (their “consumers”) is to respond to their realities.

It’s not just passive impacts either; soap operas have also long been deliberately used to bring about wider social change. For example, The Archers was introduced in the UK after World War 2 in order to help farmers increase their productivity. Coronation Street has recently received a special award in recognition of its services to humanity and for its contribution towards raising awareness of mental health issues.

And just locking it back into the hard-nosed commercial world for a moment, let’s not forget that soap operas were born in the 1920s when radio executives wanted to attract new advertisers who, in turn, wanted to target new audiences which resulted in daytime series that would appeal to female homemakers (it was the 1920s!). Eventually, Proctor and Gamble developed their own series, which led to the name “Soap Opera” and the company was still a major sponsor when soaps moved from radio to the TV screen in the 50s and 60s as it continues to be today.

Whilst not every brand can sponsor a soap opera (we’re talking mega budgets for the Coronation Street slots), it’s worth keeping an eye on their laser-focused content schedules to gain relevant insight into consumer motivators. Who knows, there might even be a CSR initiative in there somewhere for you.

If you’d like advice or guidance with your content strategy, why not get in touch.