As useful as social networks are for communication and marketing: you shouldn't rely on them exclusively. In this article, I introduce you to the content hub, a central point of contact for all your content. Whether you're a freelancer, agency, or you have any other website. This content hub could be a simple landing page or an elaborate corporate magazine.
When it comes to winning customers or turning existing customers into fans, most people start talking about social media right away. And that's perfectly fine: social networks like Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn offer great opportunities in these areas.
Independence from Facebook & Co.
At the same time, however, you can quickly become dependent on the social media players. Because they decide:
- What you can do and achieve
- What tools are at your disposal
- How you may use them
- Which of your followers and fans get to see your content
A concrete example: a few years ago, Facebook Pages were proclaimed from some corners to be the successor to the website. Now, most companies are likely to be much more sceptical about this proclamation. Because the social media giant likes to change its rules frequently and Facebook Pages have lost visibility and reach. Of course, it can still be worthwhile for you to be present and active but I wouldn't rely solely on this channel.
You can only rely on what belongs to you and where you set the rules yourself. And this is exactly the idea behind a "content hub".
Landing page as content hub
In short, a content hub is the place on the web where all your content threads come together. It's usually located on your own website and, in the simplest case, it's a landing page. You link to your site from your social media profiles. Here, users will also find your other profiles and offers.
You don't have any resources available? Then simply link your presence in the social networks and make it clear in one sentence what awaits visitors there. Ideally, you should at least give an automatically generated foretaste of your content there.
Tip: Lack of resources is the main reason why many content efforts of freelancers and agencies fail. Jan tells you how you can work more effectively and stress-free in his article Productivity Hacks.
It's a better idea to keep your content in a separate system, i.e. to show your activities collected together in a content hub. The content thus has a significantly longer half-life and is also found in search engines. I'll explain the formats available for this in a moment.
At the same time, you should offer your prospects and customers a way to stay in direct contact with you and your company - without an intermediary like Facebook. Email newsletters can still be a good way to do this, especially when you're dealing with companies as a target group. Because as old-fashioned as email may seem to some, it's still the lowest common denominator of all internet users. And last but not least, you're not reliant on a third-party provider.
But your content hub can be much more than just a single page affair and can even offer its own content. Then we're getting into the terriroty of, for example, a corporate blog or corporate magazine, a press area or newsroom and a knowledge database. Since the terms are often confused or misused, I'd like to look at them a bit more closely here.
The target group of a corporate blog are your prospects and customers. Ideally, the content comes directly from your company. Or it should at least be created in close cooperation with you if you hire external serviceor content providers.
A blog is personal and individual. This has to do with the origin of the format. Blogs started out as quite simple websites where someone could share their personal thoughts, ideas, experiences, and discoveries. In the golden era of blogs, they were strongly networked with each other. The comments on the posts were sometimes more extensive, more enlightening, and more interesting than the posts themselves. With the triumph of social networks such as Facebook, the importance of blogs has decreased dramatically.
However, corporate blogs can still be successful and useful. There are different types to choose from: The employee blog allows as many people as possible from the company to have their say about their area of expertise. The CEO blog, on the other hand, is penned by the boss. Individual entrepreneurs and freelancers will use a blog to present their expertise. The blog of Raidboxes is also such an expert channel. The list could be continued.
A corporate magazine has the same target group as a corporate blog, namely your prospects and customers. The big difference is that it is more like a journalistic medium. It will therefore usually have a permanent editorial staff who will mainly be responsible for the content. In this case, the team be even be located elsewhere. You should, however, make sure the magazine design and content fits your company, its brand image, and the target group you want to reach.
Tip: Corporate blogs and magazines need a strategic approach. Otherwise you will quickly be overwhelmed with the different target groups and content. With a content strategy you can achieve much more. See Jan's article Steps to Content Strategy.
A magazine captivates reader attention by the way it selects and implements topics. Magazines are more independent of the daily news than a pure news website, for example. They "set the topics," as they say in journalism. At the same time, they're not as personal and unpolished as a classic blog.
It can be about your company, your agency or your offer as a freelancer. But the content should mainly be about your industry and related fields. Remember: this content is meant to attract the right prospects and inspire your clients. You've probably heard the saying: the bait must be to the liking of the fish, not the angler. Here you can also benefit from the experiences of private bloggers. See the article from Daniela Sprung Earn money with blogs.
One example: the offer of the US shop B&H. Here you can find both current content and lots of useful guides. In this respect, there are overlaps with a knowledge database (see below). Red Bull's Red Bulletin, H&M Magazine or the still brand-new Daimler Magazine should also not be missing from such a listing.
What all these content examples have in common is that they're presented more like a journalistic medium - and not like an announcement page for company news. The company is more indirectly involved. All in the spirit of content marketing.
Press area and newsroom
As the name suggests, a press area is intended for journalists. Nowadays, however, you should also think of multipliers outside the long-established press landscape, i.e. influencers. And by that I don't just mean the now often satirized Instagram and YouTube influencers. There are influential people in each area who should know about you and your products or offers.
However, the needs of professional journalists differ from those of other multipliers. A press area is therefore rather sober and factual. The goal here is to quickly provide a stressed editor with the important information and content he or she needs. You can find an example of such a press area of classic design at Bauknecht, on its own project page.
The target group of a newsroomsite are multipliers of all kinds. The content here is prepared more like a magazine - in contrast to the mostly factual press area. And instead of primarily disseminating facts and figures, it also contains stories about the company. It is not least about presenting the values of the organization. In this respect, such a newsroom can be part of an employer branding strategy: Your company then presents itself as a (hopefully) interesting employer.
Ideally, a newsroom can also set topics, as is the case with a magazine. An example: you want to be perceived as an environmentally friendly entrepreneur. So you use various posts and stories to make it clear how you make "green" decisions, why this is important, and what the impact is.
Tip: We at Raidboxes also regularly report on our core topic Green Hosting for WordPress. In doing so, we also shed light on how the community deals with it. See this post. Here, however, you should remain authentic and stick to the facts. Fortunately, you can't "greenwrite" your company purely out of calculation.
You can ultimately view your newsroom as a corporate magazine, but one that doesn't primarily have (potential) customers in mind as its readership. And where the focus is on the company itself. Here's another example: Otto's newsroom. Here, the company wants to promote its image and cover its own topics such as environmental protection.
At the same time, it presents itself as an employer. Samsung Germany, on the other hand, wanders in both worlds with its newsroom: While more colorful topics can also be found on the homepage, the pure press materials can be found on a subpage.
Knowledge base & FAQ
Depending on the industry and target group, you may have a lot of content that describes, promotes, and explains your services. In the course of this, articles, whitepapers, e-books, infographics, videos and much more are usually created. You often create this content yourself. Or in very close cooperation with external service providers.
You use this content for your (content) marketing and other purposes to:
- Draw attention to yourself (or your company)
- Prove your expertise
- Build confidence in your audience
- Help your customers
A knowledge database brings all of these aims together. It thus increases the chance that this valuable and helpful content will be found. In the simplest case, you link to all relevant content in a meaningful and visually appealing way. The frequently asked questions (FAQ) and the contact to sales and support can also be found there.
Your knowledge base should therefore reach both prospective and existing customers and help both target groups.
Example: the Clickmeeting offer. There, e-books, infographics, videos, articles and help texts are gathered in one place, which are otherwise used for content marketing, the purchase process and customer support. The specialist shop Thomann, on the other hand, has built up an extensive collection of guides over the years. And the Shopgate Resources also fit into this category.
Mixed forms are possible
By the way, it's not about choosing just one of these content hub models. Some companies will have a magazine and a newsroom at the same time. Another will focus solely on a classic press area. And you also frequently encounter mixed forms in which the formats overlap.
Important basic rule: less is more
Maybe you're a freelancer or small agency owner right now and you're thinking to yourself: there's no way I have the time to implement something like this. I would like to counter this: The goal is not to compete with offerings from companies like H&M, Daimler or Otto. My personal favorite motto when it comes to content is: Less is more.
A practical example: you don't have to offer a daily newsletter. Once a month is enough. Most important is that your content is relevant and has substance. That's what you should be focusing on. The same applies to other activities. For example, your blog doesn't have to offer something new every day, not even every week. Once a month may be quite sufficient. Just make sure that the content is well done and that your target group and customers are interested.
As a sole proprietor, agency, freelancer, start-up or small business, you have one big advantage in all this: you are very close to your customers. Use this to come up with theme ideas. Companies have to spend a lot of money to get this information. When in doubt, you can simply send an email or pick up the phone.