Now is the Era of the Content Hub

I have been noticing that lately there has been a rapid acceleration around the content hub. Although brands have multiple agency partnerships feeding into content, what the industry is realising is that if there isn’t a central place to drive customers, they struggle.

You might have a platform, which simply talks about products and factory openings. Meanwhile you might have great social content on other platforms. But that whole journey has to be joined in a content ecosystem. At the centre of that needs to be a content hub.

That hub has to have a real reason for being there, and not just become a dump for every single piece of content. It needs to be customer-focused.

What is a Brand Content Hub?

A brand content hub can be different things. A lot of it depends on the platform the brand has built its assets upon. It can be a subsection of the existing corporate website, a stand-alone microsite, or even a Wordpress blog site. But it’s somewhere the brand can start to tell stories; interesting stories that are thought through.

That brand content hub has to have a real reason for being there, and not just become a dump for every single piece of content."

For us at John Brown Novus, we always come back to telling brands about making content a strategic asset, not just something that fills various boxes on various platforms. The brand content hub is a place where you need to put the same thinking and planning as a creating a magazine. The content on the hub needs to link to marketing campaigns, communication plans and bring it all together into a satisfying, holistic meal.

Sounds complicated. So why do it?

Using Content to Drive Conversions

Well, simply by calling it a content hub you start to think about populating it with useful things for your customers. And once you have a place with creative content, keen insights and thought leadership, you can start to structure it so that it moves people through a sales funnel.

As we work with brands we realise that we may be doing EDM campaigns for them — but what are the EDMs linking to? Are they linking to an article that’s already out of date, perhaps? That’s not ideal. So it’s about looking at the whole ecosystem to make sure that content is there at the right place at the right time with the right message. The fact is that stuff on the content hub can be repurposed for social or a PR piece, but unless there’s something that is holding it together, a central theme and tight user journey, we believe brands are missing a trick.

One example would be if a brand says, “Let’s come up with a LinkedIn strategy.” Now, LinkedIn is a fabulous B2B content marketing platform. But for me it only works if it’s driving people to the own assets of the brand, where people can continue to find out more. That has to be linked.

If you don’t have something in the middle, for example, if you have a social campaign that isn’t driving you somewhere, it falls flat. You need to have a hub so you can help readers navigate and do something. It could be to contact a relationship manager, download an app or a whiter paper, or sign up to a newsletter.

The Ingredients of a Strong Brand Content Hub:

It’s customer-focused. Just as a magazine editor thinks of the reader first, it needs to think of the customer first.

It’s regularly updated so that it feels like a smooth-running conversation that is never out-of-date.

It’s filtered through a clear goal. Is it to educate, to entertain, position as thought leader?

It’s mobile-optimised so readers can connect anytime.

It’s linked to your other communications pieces.

Lastly, it needs to be beautifully designed. It should not look like an old attic where every old scrap gets stuffed. Many of our clients think of visuals last. But design thinking and the user experience needs to be there at step one.

Many brands, for example, may be tempted to re-skin a campaign site. Bad idea. The costs may be lower, but the look and feel will be clunky. It needs to be designed with content first, not as a corporate site. Have a play around some sites I find present themselves well: ANZ Blue Notes, iQ by Intel and Google Insights, for example.

Hubs: Good Value for Money

Lastly, it is worth considering why brand content hubs are finally making their presence felt. The reason I think this is starting to happen is that a lot of clients are looking at content marketing as a long-term investment.

People are moving away from the three-month campaign that needs to bring immediate results. They are moving to three-year thinking. They know the ecosystem has to be secure and not a patchwork quilt with a LinkedIn page here, an EDM there. They build a hub fit for purpose, nothing piecemeal. Only then can brand content become a strategic asset to a brand, not just something that fills a space.