I first came across the “Hero, Hub, Hygiene” content model several years ago at a conference where Mark Schaefer presented the concept. I was teaching a course in Content Marketing Strategy and thought it would be a valuable tool to bring to the class. It was still the “early days” for content marketing as a discipline, and many marketers felt that the best way to leverage social media was to chase the golden egg – going viral. If you were lucky enough to succeed at such a tall order, a problem remained: viral posts cause enormous peaks in interest and once the content has lost its magic, viewers will typically not return. There is no long-term success in chasing the next viral trend. The “Hero, Hub and Hygiene” model, on the other hand, offers a solid base on how to leverage content marketing as a long-term growth strategy.
It was Google who first introduced the model, providing it to marketers who wanted to build up fans on their YouTube pages. Originally it was intended for video content, but it has been successfully applied to all types of content marketing.
So, why does it work and how can you use it? Let’s start at the top of the model’s pyramid and explore each type of content.
When creating Hero content, you should think less about the product you’re selling and more about the brand. What kind of values do you want to promote? What do you want the brand to be associated with? The best Hero content is not only memorable but also reinforces a strong, positive connection between the viewer and the brand.
Hero content typically coincides with popular and high-profile events or seasons throughout the year. Retailers often create Hero content for the Christmas season, for example. There are, however, good reasons to create Hero content outside of these peak times. There will be less competition for your audience’s attention, and your content is more likely to be engaged with.
One thing to keep in mind is that Hero content doesn’t necessarily have to be video. For example, in B2B settings it could be whitepapers, surveys, reports, research pieces, guides or eBooks. If you’re in a B2B sector, whitepapers can leave powerful impressions. When designing your whitepaper, you need to ensure that it is polished and professional, whilst also aligning with your brand. You want your whitepaper to help establish you as a thought-leader, so it’s important to look the part. As with other Hero pieces, you should plan your whitepapers to be released around major events for your business, community or industry. A good frequency is once or twice a year.
This type of content typically focuses on a niche interest of your target audience. It allows your organization to develop a lasting relationship with the audience, thus incentivizing them to return to your content on a regular basis. It’s important that you publish new content in predictable intervals. For instance, think of a blog series released once a month, or a weekly video that deals with a specific topic each week. Your Hub content is where you are able to shine as an expert in your field. A good frequency would be somewhere between once a month and once a week.
Hygiene is a content type that is usually instructive and practical – providing detailed steps in a process or tips, tricks, and hacks. It’s critical for it to be useful, timely, helpful content that people are often searching for. Set up keyword “Google Alerts” to come to your inbox, use the Google Trends tool, and check your own analytics to see what topics get the most traction with your audience. Good examples are things like FAQs, how-to articles, recipes, workshops, and “what is…” articles. This type of content should also be written with voice search queries in mind. For ways to optimize your content efforts for voice search, check out our previous blog Let’s Talk Voice Search.
HERO, HUB & HYGIENE: WORKING IN UNISON
The Hero, Hub & Hygiene content model works best when these three different types of content work in unison. Hero content is great for building awareness and new audiences. However, by using Hub content you can start to build a relationship with those new audiences. And lastly, Hygiene content increases visibility in search engines and helps build your reputation by consistently providing helpful content that describes, explains and helps answer questions.
|Brand Awareness||Influence Consideration||Creates Advocates||Builds Reputation|
Implement this content model by starting with your Hygiene content. Get in a rhythm by scheduling your content regularly and, looking at your metrics and analytics, make adjustments accordingly. Once you feel like that type of content is consistent, look at opportunities to build out Hub content using topics that highlight your expertise and are relevant to your audience. Once you’re firing on all cylinders, be strategic about creating a piece of Hero content, making certain it aligns with your broader marketing strategy and coincides with key moments in your sales cycle.
When considering the substance of your content strategy, remember that quality is always preferable to quantity. Be creative, but always put your brand’s best foot first, remembering that the content you produce has become the primary way your audience understands your product, how you relate to your customers, and what your brand values most.
Whatever content strategy model you choose to use, if you are analytical, strategic, and creative – the long-term results of your content can be exceptionally rewarding.
Hewitt, M. (2019, January 04). Making sense of the hero, hub and hygiene content marketing model. Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://www.stickyeyes.com/2017/10/26/making-sense-of-the-hero-hub-and-hygiene-content-marketing-model/
Shaefer, M. (2016, July 14). SEO and Content: Can SEO drive “viral?” Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://businessesgrow.com/2015/01/14/seo-and-content/