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".
The simplest case: landing page as your 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 will show you how you can work more effectively and stress-free again in his article on 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.
For advanced users: Corporate Blog & Co.
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.
Corporate blogs can, however, still be successful and useful. You can choose between different types. The employee blog, for example, lets as many people from the company as possible have their say on their specialist area. The CEO blog, on the other hand, is written by the boss. Sole traders and freelancers will use a blog to present their expertise. The Blog from RAIDBOXES is one such expert channel. The list could go on and on.
Example: The blog from UK supermarket chain Sainsburys is a classic in this field and continues with the original structure. Another example is Krones Blog - also on the topic of recruiting specialists via blogs.
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'll quickly end up overwhelmed by the different target groups and content. With a content strategy you can achieve much more. Check out Jan's article on the steps to build a 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.
Your magazine can include topics about your company, your agency, or your offer as a freelancer. But the content should mainly be about your industry and related areas. Remember: this content is designed to attract the right people and to inspire your customers. You surely know the saying: the bait must taste good to the fish, not the fisherman. Here you can also benefit from the experience of private bloggers. See the article by Daniela Sprung on earning money with blogs.
A good example is the corporate magazine from US Shops B&H. Here you'll find both current contents and a lot of useful guides. In this respect, there's an overlap with a knowledge database (see below). Also the Red Bulletin from Red Bull, the H&M Magazine or the brand new Daimler magazine has to be included in this list of examples.
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.
The press area
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 objective. After all, the goal here is to quickly provide a stressed editor with the important information and content they need at that moment. You can find an example of such a press area of classic design on the press release page for Samsung. Here the press information is listed on a separate project page.
The target group of a newsooms 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. Last but not least, it's all about presenting the values of the organization. In this respect, such a newsroom can be part of a Employer branding strategy . Your company will then present itself, hopefully, as an 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 of green hosting for WordPress. In doing so, we shed light on how the community deals with the issue too. See this article. But here you should stay authentic and stick to the facts. Fortunately, you cannot simply claim your company is green without any evidence to substantiate it.
Ultimately, you can view your newsroom as a corporate magazine but not primarily with (potential) customers as readers in mind. And where the focus is on the company itself. Here is another example: the Newsroom from Otto. Here, the Group wants to promote its image and address its own topics such as environmental protection.
The company also presents itself as an employer here. Samsung in turn touches on both worlds: while the home page also contains more colourful topics, the pure press material is available 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 database should therefore reach both interested parties and existing customers and help both target groups.
Example: the knowledge base of ClickMeeting. E-books, infographics, videos, articles, and help texts are gathered there together in one place. This content is otherwise used for content marketing, the purchasing process, and customer support. The specialist music shop Thomann in turn has built up an extensive collection of guidebooks over the years. And also the Shopgate Resources 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 freelancer or owner of a small agency and you're thinking to yourself: there's no way I have the time to implement something like that. I'd like to counter that argument right away. Your aim shouldn't be to compete with offers from companies such as H&M, Daimlerm or Otto. My personal favourite motto in terms of 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.
What questions do you have about a content hub? Feel free to use the comment function. You want to get more tips for freelancers and agencies from Jan? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook , or subscribe to our newsletter.