We’ve all seen the stats. Billions and kajillions of hours spent on YouTube. Millennials watch it more than TV. Who knows how many hours of video are uploaded every second. YouTube stars are emerging with huge audiences, some who just film themselves watching TV. How ironic.
The fact is, YouTube is the engine that powers a vast portion of the internet’s content, so I guess you could say that Google knows a thing or two about content marketing. Keen on getting brands to produce and promote as much content as possible, they have come up with the 3H system of content marketing: Hero, Hub, and How To. Each type of content is engineered for different types of internet users.
The cool thing is that this strategy can be applied to content marketing in general, it is not limited to YouTube only.
Hero is not Spiderman or Batman content – effective and engaging as they may be. Hero refers to the flagship content, in video content marketing these are the big productions focused around major events and product launches. Maybe Spike Jonze directs your video. Maybe FKA Twigs does some ridiculous dancing. Either way, this is the content designed to go boom.
Hero content is designed for browsers, people who you capture with engaging content who weren’t necessarily searching for your brand.
Hub content is complementary content created around the interests of your audience. Hub content should be posted regularly in order to establish a channel as a place for visitors to come visit often, in others words, a hub.
Hub content is designed for subscribers, the content should be ever-green and pieces of content should build upon each other to expand the brand’s position and storytelling.
How To content is the value content that is product focused. How To content helps people get the most out of something. It’s usually short and sweet and isn’t designed to move through audiences in a viral way. It should be clear, happy, and helpful.
How To content is designed for searchers, people looking for information about how to do something. If it sounds obvious, that’s because it is. In the beauty industry some people refer to the 3H strategy as Hero, Hub and Hygeine. Still others who want to be different call it Hero, Hub, and Help. Whatever lifts your hot air balloon. The idea is still the same.
Combined, the three Hs represent a healthy balance between product and content. Too much product focused content and your audience will unfollow, since they don’t want to receive only advertising materials. But you are still pushing a product, so it needs to be on message and the product can’t be too far away.
The hub content is the trickiest part. It’s difficult to find topics related to your products to champion and develop content around, but it’s essential to establishing a presence with your target audience. Some things are very obvious, like a major water brand could create content around water conservation and environmental issues. A shoe company can create a content series with a group of travelers hiking around unusual environments. The list goes on and on.
NOT JUST VIDEO
Producing high quality video content is difficult because it’s expensive and time-consuming. Production quality has to be above a certain level for a brand to be taken seriously. Shaky footage, blurry images, bad lighting and god-forbid zooming will immediately result in damaging a brand image (unless they are going for the hand-held, amateur approach which can work in certain situations).
Luckily content marketing takes many different forms, and the Google strategy can apply to written content as well. Hero content can be the longform articles, hub content are the regular posts that establish personality and perspective, commenting on trends and issues. How To content can be a series of paragraphs outlining how a product works, step-by-step guides and even listicles fit into this category.
The key to any content marketing execution is planning and regularity. You have to give people a reason to follow you. You have to give them content that’s entertaining or educational enough for them to want to come back. Establishing a regularity gets people accustomed to coming to your channels.
You can read more about my approach to content marketing here.