For curating effective content, the key is to define your audience and identify what’s top of mind for them. Then think about what you want them to think, feel, or do once they access your content.
MEDIA 7: Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself? What inspired you to pursue a career in writing?
JUDITH MAGYAR: I didn’t start off as a writer, but I loved stories from an early age, which is probably why I studied English Literature at university. My first job was teaching basic skills in reading and writing to semi-literate GIs on US military bases in Germany back in the 90s. That’s when I learned that you didn’t need to be a novelist to tell good stories. These men were able to bring their experiences and emotions to life without putting pen to paper.
Then I worked as a translator and a technical writer before embarking on a long career in employee and executive communications at SAP. One of the Executive Board members I worked for used to introduce me as his ghostwriter, and that’s when I started thinking about writing professionally. In my current role as a brand journalist at SAP, I practice journalism-style storytelling and create content about the role of technology in making the world run better to improve people’s lives. My job is to earn and keep audience attention through compelling content which is presented through a variety of media.
M7: What is your approach to branding your company, its products and services?
JM: I am thrilled to work for a company ranked the 16th most valuable brand in the world and the number one in Germany, the company’s country of origin. We have a balanced blend of owned, earned, shared, and paid media which strongly contributes to such a high ranking.
For example, SAP just created Blank Canvas, an Original Series inspired by The Passionates. The term was coined by the SAP Insights Research Team, based on their findings from a recent study about a growing group of consumers who make purchase decisions and actively support companies that speak up on environmental and social issues.
The three-part series addresses the big issues in fashion, food, and sports and is hosted by NYT best-selling author, Emmy nominated storyteller, and activist Baratunde Thurston. The success of the series is the result of a collaborative effort between global and regional marketing and communications teams, leveraging owned websites as well as brand advertising and syndicated programs on all social and digital channels.
Another great example is SAP’s Employee Brand Journalism program that publishes quality, authentic stories written exclusively by SAP employees. Topics cover those that are critical to SAP’s success such as Purpose, Intelligent Enterprise, Future of Work, and Customer Experience. The good thing is that the program doesn’t rely on expensive research or third-party validation. We set the tone and own the conversation.
These high-impact stories are vetted and edited before being published and promoted via powerful digital publishing platforms like Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. As SAP stories get promoted across high-traffic networks, thousands of readers are exposed to SAP’s products, services, and solutions. Contextual ads accompany stories and raise additional awareness that links back to SAP.com solution pages.
The program has multiple advantages. It provides ground cover for SAP sales and marketing departments to engage with customers and close deals. It allows the company to respond quickly and effectively to emerging trends of events. For example, the 161 articles about COVID that were published last year on our digital publishing platforms garnered over 1.5 million views. And last but not least, the program helps position SAP, our customers, and partners as innovative and forward-thinking.
The results are terrific: just in Q4 2020, SAP published 111 articles, achieving nearly 1.2 million views and a total of 14,235,327 brand impressions.
With a robust library of content published over 10 years, SAP continues to see top performance compared to other BrandVoice sites, ranking #1 in terms of the number of page views, organic search and social referrals, and social actions on Facebook and LinkedIn.
But we don’t rely solely on our own stories to position the company. SAP is recognized as an industry leader across its entire portfolio with analysts like Gartner and Forrester naming SAP as a leader in every category of business software.
Instead of depending on the traditional marketing funnel to drive sales, content strategists can help transition a brand from a vendor to a trusted partner by engaging with their audience in a circular fashion.
M7: How do you ensure that your content team understands the requirements and curates content in an engaging manner?
JM: At SAP, we have different teams creating and curating content for different audiences across different lines of business. I’m part of the Brand Journalism team in Global Corporate Affairs. I think the key is to define your audience and identify what’s top of mind for them. Then think about what you want them to think, feel, or do once they access your content. For example, a recent story on our Forbes channel: How Covid-19 Is Nudging The Fashion Industry To Go Circular achieved several objectives. On one hand, some of our Industry experts have used it to initiate conversations with retail customers about the topic of sustainability and the role of technology in reducing waste. On the other hand, someone from The Economist Sustainability events portfolio who was researching ''Circularity in Fashion'' came across the article on the SAP website and reached out with an invitation to join an upcoming sustainability webinar; he said he had no idea that SAP was active in this area at all so the article generated a change in perception about the brand.
M7: You are also a regular columnist at various websites and stay quite active on social media platforms. How do you manage to strike a balance between your personal and professional life?
JM: It’s easy to balance your personal and professional life if you live the life you love. I tell my grandkids: it doesn’t matter what you do when you grow up, just make sure you love what you do. I’m nearing retirement age but have no intention to stop working. Of course, that’s easy for me as a professional storyteller on technology topics; there’s no lack of things to write about. Technology is at the heart of everything in our world, and it can provide solutions to our biggest challenges such as climate change. When it comes to innovation, there hasn’t been a dull moment in my entire lifetime, and I’m sure there won’t be one for generations to come.
For SAP's branding, we have a balanced blend of owned, earned, shared, and paid media which strongly contributes to such a high ranking.
M7: What are your views on content shock? Is it a worrisome trend or a content marketing myth?
JM: Content shock happens when content consumers are not able to consume all the content that they desire or encounter. There’s just too much out there. It’s like consumer overload which makes it difficult for people to make buying decisions when faced with too many options. Alvin Toffler described this phenomenon in his book titled Future Shock back in 1971. He maintained that the advantages of diversity and individualization are canceled by the complexity of the buyer's decision-making process. The same applies to content.
The challenge is to keep your content relevant to your audience and then position it so your audience can find it and consume it without having to wade through too many options.
Perhaps one way to avoid content shock is to think in circular patterns. For example, our current linear take-make-waste economic model has led to consumption overload, pollution and waste, and resource scarcity, endangering our very existence on the planet. Circular models that reduce waste, reuse resources, and keep products in use until the very end of their lifecycle combat those problems. The same principle can be applied to content.
So, once you create a premium content asset, it can be repurposed, reduced to smaller units, and delivered in compelling content vehicles such as video and infographics to drive engagement on social media. A call-to-action back to your website closes the loop.
Instead of depending on the traditional marketing funnel to drive sales, content strategists can help transition a brand from a vendor to a trusted partner by engaging with their audience in a circular fashion. This can include listening, storytelling, reminiscing, sharing lessons learned, and creating interactive opportunities for people to engage with the brand.
Our team creates content packages to suit different styles, needs, and audiences. For example, this article about business continuity during the pandemic is complemented by an immersive, interactive Wirewax video featuring companies that excelled during difficult times thanks to their digitalization initiatives. Viewers can click from the video to other videos with more in-depth content about each of the companies featured in the overview story. There is also a short clip and a variety of social assets to ensure that this story reaches a wide audience regardless of their medium of choice.
Instead of reinventing the wheel, it’s our job as marketers and communicators to find creative ways to tell our own story in a way that resonates not only with our customers and partners but with the public at large. That’s how we can move the needle and become better at telling the story of our solutions and how they make the world run better and improve people’s lives.