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Building Great Content on Complicated Subjects: An Interview with Liz Koenig of IBM Research

October 2, 2019

Liz Koenig is the Social Strategist for IBM Research. She’s been with IBM for over four years, where she is responsible for the development, measurement and execution of the brand’s social media content strategies.

Her resume also includes high-level social media positions at Merkle and eBay, as well as a Guinness Book of World Records title. That’s right, as Liz’s bio for her session at Social Media Strategies Summit states, her “interest in the power of social media started in 2008 when she leveraged social media to gain sponsorship for a world record row across the Atlantic Ocean.” What an origin story!

We had the opportunity to ask Liz a few questions about the session she’s presenting on October 16, “Building Great Content on Complicated Subjects: IBM 5 in 5 – A Case Study.” Working with complicated subjects can be difficult for many B2B marketers, whether you’re in tech, healthcare or financial services, and Liz’s responses address these challenges, shedding some light on how she has succeeded at IBM Research.

Your session at the 2019 Social Media Strategies Summit is a subject that definitely resonates with many B2B marketers. What advice do you have for marketers to sound as informed as possible while writing content that targets an industry they may be unfamiliar with?

Most important is to ask yourself, “How do I sum up why this information is important to my audience in a few sentences?” Understand who your audience is, make clear what the connection is for them to care about what you have to say and build your content using those sentences as the framework.

What strategies do you use to break down complicated subject matter to create content that builds human connection?

Knowing your audience and what makes them tick is key, and ultimately narrowing down what you want people to walk away understanding. People will come in contact with technology that started at IBM Research and don’t even know it, but it can touch them in profound ways.
When creating a campaign that is aimed at a broader audience to tell our brand story and is not necessarily aimed at future clients or scientists, we try and show how the technology or research will eventually impact them. We do this a lot with very short explainer videos.

Which digital tactics do you feel are best to help explain difficult subjects?

Short videos and motion graphics are often my go-to forms of media. Because our topics can sometimes be so complex, it is necessary to also consider driving the audience to our landing pages, blogs and articles, which are developed to give someone the opportunity to explore and learn more.
So, it is key that we make sure anything we are driving viewers to is optimized to tell the story clearly and that our team at IBM Research all works closely together to ensure that happens.

What does an average day look like at work?

Normally, the first thing I do every morning is check our editorial calendar and make sure the day’s content is queued up and accurate. I also look at where we may have holes in calendaring.
Throughout the day I will have various calls with our PR teams and researchers to understand what news we have coming up and what technologies and papers are being featured at events. After these calls, we can start strategizing how we will create content to support our storytelling efforts. I am also checking in with the teams that are creating the content and working closely with our scientists to make sure anything we put out externally is accurate.
A big part of my day is also diving into our social and media analytics to understand what our audience is engaging with and showing interest in to make sure we are giving them more of that. The engagement metrics also show me what forms of media are resonating with our audience; we will use this knowledge to inform optimizations to our content strategy.

Creating a holistic digital experience is an incredibly important part of any marketing strategy. How do you align the story you’re telling on social media with the messages you’re sharing on other channels?

We work together!
It is incredibly important to approach our storytelling efforts as a team. Within the IBM Research Marketing and Comms team, we all work off the same calendar, use the same project management tools and approach calls to review content, messaging and strategy together.
On a company level it could be difficult because at IBM we are also a matrixed organization, but it’s not. The entire corporate social practice is communicating with each other regularly and [we] are given the tools to do so. Collaboration is encouraged, so collaboration happens!

If you could give advice to other social media professionals, what would it be?

Always keep your audience first.
Make sure your content is catering to what they care about and how they want to consume your messaging. It can be easy to push out content for the sake of getting it out there to be seen, but people want their feeds filled with content they feel is relevant to them.
If your audience is not engaging with your content, take note of it. Look at the data, experiment with different delivery methods and topics, until you find what works best for you and your followers.
Catch Liz at the Social Media Strategies Summit in NYC on Oct. 17, 2019.
Follow IBM Research: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn
October 2, 2019

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