INTERVIEW WITH JOSH WESTERMAN, GLOBAL CONTENT EDITOR
Based in ghd's digital team in the Leeds office, Josh Westerman is a content editor fully engrossed in the world of straighteners and styling. From braids and bouffants, to curls and crimping (he informs me that the latter has been well and truly resurrected) he’s the go-to guy at ghd for getting the latest looks up and running for consumers on ghdhair.com.
What does your role as global content editor involve - in terms of responsibility and the day-to-day?
Top level, my role as Global Content Editor is to make our content offering the best going. A large chunk of my work is based around writing and proofreading, but my day-to-day 'to do' list will have SEO and project management tasks on it too.
Defining content strategies with our external agency, looking at the best ways to maximise site optimisation, speaking with our 13 other markets on their content needs – on top of delivering results with the content we're creating.... there's a lot going on!
A huge part of my position is building a tone of voice (TOV) that’s not only consistent across all content we’re creating for ghdhair.com, but also engaging and interesting for our audience. Like any evolving brand, different TOVs have been tried and tested, so it’s about finding a clear way of writing for ghd in 2017.
And this comes from two angles: writing the content from scratch for our campaign pieces, and proofing the work our content agency does to help out with our base content needs.
What do you think are the biggest challenges at the moment when it comes to content marketing?
The biggest challenge I think content marketing as a whole is facing at the minute is something I like to call the ‘Millennial Movement’. You’ve already got your older generation bought into your brand, so how’d you get the new kids on the block in on the action?
Smartphones and social media go hand-in-hand with the youth of today (said by a man age only 26), and with the likes of Snapchat and Insta Stories, there’s been a drop in attention spans – who wants to watch a three minute video when you can see something in 30 seconds?
Peppering the social channels is all good and well, but standing out from the crowd will become increasingly challenging. Catering your content to fit your audience and the audience you want to target, as well as getting it to work from a social media and campaign aspect, is a huge barrier to overcome.
WhAT are your ‘go-to’ tools?
I’m a big fan of using data to help with our content marketing activity, so I’m always nipping in and out of Google Analytics. It’s great to see how our content is performing, especially if we’ve taken a new approach to the way we’re showcasing our content. It gives us an insight into what our audience likes and doesn’t like, plus we can get an idea of what stuff works best through our social and email channels.
The Whiteboard Friday videos from Moz are one of my go-to places to help learn the new latest tips and tricks when it comes to search. I’m by no means an SEO expert, so Rand Fishkin is the Obi-Wan Kenobi to my Luke Skywalker when it comes to getting swotted-up on the best practises.
Answer The Public is a cool tool too – it’s free, and gives you a great idea of the queries people are asking. If we’re creating a new piece on a look, we want to be hitting those questions out the ball park so it’s extremely handy for knowing what to write about!
What advice would you give to someone new to a career in content marketing?
For any aspiring content marketer, getting words on paper is a must. You can’t crack into this career path without being afraid of putting in the work to practise your trade. Writing will be what you ‘do’ for a living, so the more confident you become with your skills, the more confident you’ll be in delivering results.
With experience working in both agency and client-side, I am still by no means the finished article (pardon the pun) when it comes to writing. I’ve had the luxury of working alongside some great writers and had fantastic mentors who’ve pointed out areas where I could improve – Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t be afraid of some constructive criticism and take the feedback of your seniors and peers on board. Make sure you never stop learning about writing and words either. I’ve got a 'word of the day' calendar, which is a great learning tool!
What are your top tips when it comes to marketing to a B2C audience?
Firstly, you’ve got to know exactly what your customers want. If you’re creating content or generating marketing material that no-one is interested in, you aren’t going to drive sales and turn your content into conversions. Getting an idea of the queries your audience is searching (Answer the Public is great for this), and using your SEO nous to hit high searching terms is a great way to draw in your B2C crowd.
Getting your deployment strategy right is massively important. What’s the point in creating an article that isn’t going to get any air time? Align your content creation with your PR work, social, paid media activity and email marketing to give yourself the best chance of getting your words in front of people – there’s no point hiding your work away so promote, promote and then promote some more!
Do you see any emerging digital trends which you’d expect to see more of during the next year?
There has to be more TLC towards mobile – at the end of the day, half of us are never off our smartphones, so imagine the impact fully mobile-optimised sites could have! I think there needs to, and will be, development in AMPs and apps to make mobile the go-to platform for everything digital.
But, with the switch to mobile, the days of long-form content could be numbered. We all know content is king, and we’re working towards a quality and quantity standpoint (from SEO and editorial perspectives), but is a consumer going to flick through a 1,200 word article on their phone? With more visual elements, yes they might, but a long block of text could lose its appeal.
One trend I would love to see take off more though is on-site user generated content. For me, seeing the work someone has put into a hairstyle comes across as achievable and inspirational, so it’s an area I feel really could kick off – especially in an industry like ours, where visuals are a must.