Move over, blog.
It used to be every company had to have one. And, for the majority of brands, a blog is still a savvy way to publish your expertise and POV on timely topics.
But there’s a format better suited to showcase the full strategic range of B2B and association brands’ thought leadership chops.
Say hello to the mighty content hub.
If you’ve been tempted to write it off as content marketing’s latest shiny toy, think again. The content hub is here to stay.
Look around and you’ll find a growing number of content hubs on the websites of forward-thinking brands such as GE, Intel, Wells Fargo and CDW. The big daddy of them all, American Express’ Open Forum, is still one of the best-done and best-known. (It launched in 2007 and has been pioneering the format ever since.)
Content hubs and thought leadership are a match made in content marketing heaven. They showcase content value, track the audience and capture data—the trifecta of content marketing best practices. Win-win-win.
If you’re still not sure about this whole content hub business, here’s your primer.
What’s a content hub, anyway?
Done right, a content hub is more substantial than a blog and more focused than a website. The best B2B content hubs provide contextual depth and authoritative breadth on a select handful of strategic industry topics that matter to your industry or vertical audience—and your brand business goals, of course.
Think of the content hub as command central for your B2B brand’s publishing prowess. It invites your audience to come in, hang their hats and stay awhile. Go ahead, it says: Sink into the issues and formats that matter most to your career and industry.
Keep in mind that you’re not inviting your audience to hang their hats and stay awhile in your rented home, owned by someone else, like Facebook, for example. (Thanks, but no thanks, Mark Zuckerberg.) A content hub is an owned asset. All data, content distribution and audience insights belong to you, B2B brand, free and clear. Smart move.
Content hubs also may increase user engagement, time spent, number of content pieces consumed and trackable markers on the road to conversion. The upside is enticing: 96 percent of B2B buyers say they want content from industry thought leaders, according to a 2016 study by Demand Gen Report.
For these reasons, and many more, the content hub is the go-to format of strategic opportunity in thought leadership content marketing. In a way, it’s the new online magazine. While, yes, the magazine continues to thrive in print (despite predictions of its demise late last decade), its online equivalent is far closer to the content hub than the blog.
A search for an official definition of content hub brings up zilch, so here’s my very own, homegrown one, tailored to B2B: A content hub is a one-stop-shop digital experience built to house and leverage all the content—no matter the format, channel or platform—created by a brand to showcase expertise and inspire its audience to act on its business goals in measurable ways.
Designed to look like the most engaging media sites, content hubs usually live in a dedicated area of a brand’s website. In terms of design, you might see lots of content squares lined up in pretty rows. Each content box has an image and headline, sometimes a teaser, and always a call to action when the user hits the article page. Once consumed, each piece pays it forward, teasing another related content experience—article, infographic, video, listicle, podcast, social object … or whatever content marketing dreams up next.