Content marketing encompasses the creation and distribution of content that aims to help a specific target customer progress through their journey toward a business conversion.
For your brand’s content to be noteworthy, it has to provide value to the user. The Content Honeycomb is General Assembly’s framework — modeled after information architecture pioneer Peter Morville’s widely used User Experience Honeycomb — for helping you generate, evaluate, and push content marketing strategies that make your brand stand out. It’s one of many valuable tools you can use to plan, organize, and optimize your marketing efforts.
The Content Honeycomb posits that high-value content possesses certain key characteristics. Some (or all) of it should be participatory, entertaining, helpful, educational, meaningful, and/or unique.
If you look at any content success story, it probably ticks the box for at least two or three of these characteristics. You should aim to do the same.
The Content Honeycomb is a great tool for evaluating content, whether it’s created in-house or by an outside agency. As you review each piece of content, ask which boxes it ticks off. If it’s helpful, can you also make it entertaining? If it’s educational, can it also be participatory? In this regard, the framework is extremely valuable in helping to articulate what’s missing from any given content campaign.
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High-Value Content Breakdown
Marketers with a deep understanding of content strategy are more in tune with how their customers feel, what they say, and what they hear. They listen and tailor their efforts according to what their audience really wants — and these efforts translate into results.
What makes for a strong content strategy? Specific characteristics, like “participatory” and “meaningful,” lie at the core of the Content Honeycomb, and crafting material that embodies those terms requires thoughtfulness and detail. Let’s break down each Honeycomb component and explore how you can begin putting it to work.
Meaningful content connects with an audience on a deeper emotional, intellectual, or philosophical level. This content isn’t just about being warm and fuzzy — it’s a business differentiator.
To create meaningful content:
- Start conversations on social media about resonant topics.
- Conduct interviews with thought leaders that reveal insights that can improve readers’ lives.
- Showcase social impact stories that highlight your brand’s commitment to bettering communities and advancing worthy causes.
- Share stories of people who have been positively impacted by your brand.
I can publish a post on my food review app’s blog that highlights how local restaurants partner with community gardens to incorporate fresh, organic ingredients into their menus.
Each day, customers search the internet to learn about their interests. They want to go behind the scenes, find out what’s new, and get inspired. Educational content informs an audience about topics that are relevant to a company’s goods, services, or values.
To create educational content:
- Craft tutorials and how-tos on skills related to your product.
- Publish slide decks, white papers, or blog posts with helpful information on current trends.
- Conduct webinars or live “ask me anything” (AMA) broadcasts to share insights from your business’s thought leaders.
- Condense useful facts into shareable infographics.
I will partner with a chef to produce a cooking tutorial video and host it on my app.
Helpful content is just that — it makes things easier for customers, whether it’s a tax calculator and guide to use throughout the season, or simply an FAQ series related to a product.
To create helpful content:
- Build apps and tools that solve problems for your customers.
- Share resources and toolkits that assist people in using your product or service to its full potential.
- Publish white papers that provide insight into your readers’ lives and provide actionable advice.
- Address common questions with FAQs.
I will create a “traveling foodie’s dictionary” that translates common terms found on regional menus.
Participatory content aims to make customers part of a brand story. It inspires people to act, whether they’re engaging in a webinar’s open-chat forum or contributing to a community LinkedIn Group.
To create participatory content:
- Leverage tools like live video to host a forum in which customers can interact with or add to the content as you’re creating it. Create live, offline experiences that customers can take part in.
- Run contests and competitions that invite users to create and share original content.
- Use quizzes and polls to invite people to find out more about themselves — and your brand.
We’ll run a virtual “scavenger hunt” in which users can “find” ingredients at restaurants they review in exchange for points that can be redeemed for dining discounts.
There’s an old adage that suggests people remember how you make them feel more than they remember what you say or do. This also applies in the world of marketing and is the best way to approach creating entertaining content. Marketers can humanize their brands through content that resonates with strong emotions to develop deeper connections with their audiences.
To create entertaining content:
- Share entertaining photos, videos, or even animated GIFs that connect your brand personality, key messaging, and target audience.
- When it works, consider bringing humor into the equation.
- Engage in brand storytelling, experimenting across media formats — videos, slideshares, podcasts, articles, etc.
- Leverage influencers to create and share original branded content.
I will tweet out trending GIFs that pair well with quotes from user reviews.
Today’s consumers are met with a constant deluge of new content, from their email inboxes to their social media feeds. Your content not only needs to be fresh and different — it also has to stand out. Effective campaigns are often based on a deep understanding of a specific customer and what matters to them. They break through the clutter of dull “brand speak” and talk to customers in a way that’s relatable — and unique.
To create unique content:
- Look for content your customers are already generating that’s related to your brand, and play off of it.
- Offer experiences — either online or in person — that cannot be had anywhere else.
- Start with the problem your product solves. Reference the work of other leaders in the field or create content in partnership with them to provide original, cross-industry perspectives on your customer’s core needs.
I will compile and share neighborhood-specific restaurant guides by aggregating reviews that users have written on my app.
A strong content strategy should extend consistently across all marketing functions, as every platform and channel is an opportunity to galvanize your audiences and introduce them to your brand. To use content to its full potential across paid, owned, and earned media, engage in ongoing, cross-team brainstorming and keep the Content Honeycomb in mind. By following this framework, your content will make strides in driving profit and elevating the profile of your brand.
More Tools to Hone Your Marketing Tactics
The Content Honeycomb is just one of many tools you can use to organize goals, prioritize approaches, create effective campaigns, determine which data to focus on, and more. In our free, exclusive paper, Campaign Essentials, dive into three more valuable frameworks commonly used in General Assembly’s digital marketing programs. Each framework serves a different purpose in focusing, planning, executing, and optimizing your marketing campaigns.
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