Content and Sharing, Part 3: Hygiene, Hub and Hero Content

By John Eberhard

A couple months ago I wrote two articles on content sharing, and had intended to write at least one more part to the series. But I became so busy with marketing services for clients over the last two months that I literally had no time to continue the series at that time.

These content and sharing articles are based on what I learned from a book called “The Content Code” by Mark Schaefer. My first two articles covered the fact that Schaefer goes over in the book, that writing great content is not nearly enough in today’s mature content market. You also have to be very active in getting that content distributed and shared.

One of the interesting things Schaefer covered in the book is that there are three different types of content that one might create, including articles or blog posts, infographics, videos and so on.

Hygiene content: This is the content that serves the daily health of your audience. This content makes them aware of your brand and helps them connect to you when they need you most. This is the specific, short-form content that is most likely to turn up in organic search results. An example of hygiene content is a series of how-to videos from a do-it-yourself store like Home Depot.

Hub content: While hygiene content might get somebody to your site, hub content is intended to keep them there. This could be a series of articles about a more in-depth topic, or perhaps a serialized story, that makes people want to go down the rabbit hole and stay on your site. This could also be “evergreen” content that people seem to love and read month after month. An example of hub content is the addictive and thrilling adventure videos produced by Adidas Outdoor featuring daredevil athletes using their gear. Hub content lifts subscriptions to your content, spurs engagement, builds brand interest, and may even lead to brand loyalty.

Hero content: Hero content is something brilliant, dramatic, and bold that transcends the normal day-to-day Internet offerings. This is the content that creates viral buzz. A famous example is the epic videos Nike created to celebrate the World Cup. The most recent one, “Winner Stays,” playfully captures the schoolyard fantasy of young soccer players who morph into their favorite global stars. This type of content is difficult to produce. Nike was intentional in spending millions to create this hero content with the goal of creating massive brand awareness and dominating the conversation around the world’s biggest sporting event. The video received 100 million views.

“It’s important to understand that each type of content plays a role in the overall brand-building plan. One way to carve a place for yourself is to create content in a category your competitors might be missing. In the specific case of my client battling three big competitors, we learned that there was an opening in the hygiene content category that would allow us to capture a niche that leads to search engine traffic.”

An infographic by Brendan Gahan gives more descriptions of what you would do in terms of YouTube videos in these different categories:

Types of Videos

Hygiene Content: What is your audience actively searching for regarding your brand or industry? What can serve as your 365-day-relevant, always-on programming? (Example: product tutorials, how-to content, customer service, etc.)

Hub Content: The content you develop on a regular basis to give a fresh perspective on your target’s passion points. (Example: verticalized content about a product line)

Hero Content: What content do you want to push to a BIG, broad audience? What would be your Super Bowl moment? A brand may have only a few hero moments in a year, such as product launch events or industry tent-poles.”

Gahan also has an excellent article about the hygiene, hub and hero concept.

So what does all that mean? Might seem a little confusing, so I’m going to try to simplify it a bit.

Hygiene Content: This means content that you write or create to help people with the everyday problems or situations that they face, or their general interests, related to your topic or industry or brand. It’s how-to stuff, or advice, that establishes a connection between the target public and you, making them feel that you are helping them. It’s called “hygiene” because it helps them and it’s relatively brief, common, every day sort of stuff. This pulls people into your site.

Hub Content: This is more in-depth content, that, once you get them to your site, is designed to keep them interested and to stay longer, or keep coming back. This is content designed to get people to click “like” on Facebook or subscribe to a YouTube channel. It’s behind the scenes stuff, or training videos, or a series of stories or videos leading up to some big event.

Hero Content: This is content about large scale events, such as product launches or other events, that is designed to build brand awareness, and to entertain and inspire.

There is a wealth of information on this online. I think it is important to be aware of these three types of content. For most small to medium size businesses, it is probably most vital to develop hygiene and hub content, to drive traffic to your site and get them to stay and come back. Then when you have a major event in your company, develop some hero content to gain greater awareness.