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The Hero-Hub-Help Content Marketing Strategy

A content marketing strategy should identify what to publish and when to publish it. When a content marketing goal includes growing an engaged audience, YouTube’s venerable hero-hub-help framework has much to offer.

The framework helps marketers plan their YouTube programming and grow an audience. While it works best for videos or podcasts, hero-hub-help also offers insights for other forms of content.

Google and YouTube

YouTube and its parent company, Google, have promoted the hero-hub-help model for the last decade in resources aimed at helping businesses and individuals succeed on the YouTube video sharing platform.

These Google resources include a 2015 article about scheduling video content and a Think with Google YouTube playbook, among others.

Some marketing professionals have adopted the framework and described it extensively. They often represent it as a pyramid with “help” content at the foundation and “hero” content, which is produced the least, on top.

One could visualize the hero-hub-help content strategy as a pyramid. The foundation of "help" represents the most frequent type of content.

One could visualize the hero-hub-help content strategy as a pyramid. The foundation of “help” represents the most frequent type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is typically the most entertaining. It may stretch your creativity and capabilities. It’s likely harder to make. The key attribute of hero content is that it should appeal to a wide section of prospects.

According to Google, hero content is “big, tent-pole events that are designed to provide a massive step-change to your audience growth.”

Content strategist Yalin Solmaz, who worked at YouTube, cites BMW’s four-minute mini-film, “The Small Escape,” as an example of hero content.

The Small Escape is a short film based on a true story. It uses quality production methods and appeals to a wide audience.

The Small Escape is a short film based on a true story. It uses quality production methods and appeals to a broad audience.

The video depicts a 1963 escape from communist-controlled East Berlin into the West using a tiny BMW Isetta. In addition to the short film, BMW published an accompanying article that describes the escape.

The accompanying article expands on the video — to tell a story.

The accompanying article expands on the video — to tell a story.

The film and article have wide appeal well beyond car enthusiasts. It could attract someone to BMW’s YouTube channel who might not otherwise be interested in cars.

Your company’s content strategy doesn’t need short, historical films. Rather, think of content that your potential customers are likely to find entertaining, interesting, and shareable. Also, you might publish hero content just once or twice a year since it takes more work.

Hub Content

Hub content is for engagement and retention. It should have consistent elements and themes throughout a series.

Hub content is pushed to subscribers via notifications or email. It appears on a schedule and, hopefully, becomes part of your audience’s routine.

Imagine your favorite television shows, news programs, or documentary series. You may think of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, as an example (if you’re old enough). Wild Kingdom, a nature documentary, ran every week for 25 years starting in 1963. Viewers anticipated it and tuned in to watch. In this sense, it both engaged and retained its audience.

Wild Kingdom ran every week from 1963 to 1988. Viewers anticipated it and tuned in to watch.

From 1963 to 1988, many American families watched Wild Kingdom. Today, you can watch the program on a YouTube channel.

As part of a content marketing strategy, hub content is your business’s scheduled programming. Hub content is easy to produce and publish. For example, an online retailer selling kitchen supplies could publish a weekly cooking show or healthy eating podcast.

Help Content

Help content, which Google sometimes calls “hygiene content,” is in some ways the highest form of content marketing. It answers specific questions and solves problems.

Help content draws potential customers to your business. This often happens when they search for a solution.

As an example, a U.S.-based omnichannel farm and ranch retailer, D&B Supply, publishes short (less than two minutes) help videos that answer questions someone might search for on Google or YouTube — such as the company’s videos on pellet-burning stoves.

D&B Supply's content help content is often short (less than two minutes) and answers a specific question that someone might search for on Google or YouTube.

D&B Supply’s content help content is often short (less than two minutes) and answers a specific question that someone might search for on Google or YouTube.

The company doesn’t attempt to sell products in the videos. It tries to help folks solve a problem. When consumers have questions about, say, a pellet stove, they search on Google, find the video, and become introduced to the business.

You can publish help content in bursts, producing many videos in a few days.

Other Content

Not all content is suitable for the hero-hub-help strategy. Social media content, as an example, doesn’t fit neatly into the model.

Nonetheless, the hero-hub-help framework applies to other areas of content marketing in one critical aspect: Produce different types of content to attract, engage, and retain an audience at varying points of their relationship with your company.

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