What is Hero Content?

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a… video ad that made a major impact.

If you hear the word “hero,” it might conjure up images of muscled super-humans in spandex using some unique superpower to save the day. To put that in a content writing context, that could be a niche a writer is incredibly well-positioned to write about, or perhaps your content aims to solve a problem that so many people in your target audience are plagued with that they think you’re a god for creating it.

But hero content actually has a different meaning, even if one or both of these things would factor into it.

The 3H Content Strategy

Hero content is the top of a pyramidal content strategy known as “3H”: “hero, hub and hygiene,” with hero content at the middle of the pyramid. Hub content is like a repeat button on a playlist in that you want people to stay in the loop. Its chief purpose is to get people to subscribe to your channels, follow you on social media, and other aspects of encouraging and maintaining engagement with your target audience. Hygiene is the base where this type of content is intended for your core audience and answers some of their burning questions, which ironically makes it sound as if it should be the hero content because of the problem-solving factor.

Hero content is at the top because it’s so much rarer. It tends to have a huge amount of resources behind it and meant to make a huge impact all at once. Hit-driven with a huge budget, sort of like video games. It chiefly serves to increase brand awareness by creating an impact on a much larger scale than hub and hygiene content does. Those two parts of the pyramid are focused on your target audience, while hero content goes above and beyond the call of duty to encapsulate far more people.

What Makes for Good Hero Content?

In essence, hero content is a blog or social post, video or image that ends up going viral. It reaches an incredibly large audience with a huge investment in its production. The 3H strategy was initially intended for video content rather than written content, YouTube in particular. As content marketing has continued to evolve and more is expected of written and video content alike, the 3H strategy can still apply to both, but videos remain your best bet for superpowered hero content. This is because videos can carry more water in terms of the actors, imagery, dialogue, overall production values, and other aspects of video production that just don’t translate as well to other mediums.

Then, when it comes to reach, video ad content in particular is just more likely to get seen by people who do everything from watch YouTube videos to play ad-supported games.

Social posts also have a higher likelihood of going viral than blog posts because of the chance that your post turns memetic. Memes and going viral can go hand in hand, and being on a platform more conducive to sharing is simply a safer bet than publishing only on your own website. While there’s less competition for visitors’ attention on your own turf, it’s not as likely to have the same impact. Visual and written content that’s punchier, such as an ad, tweet or even a reply can end up going viral without your having to put a huge amount of resources into it.

What sets hero content apart though is that there’s a huge push behind it rather than not expecting it to go viral or have memes created from it. Blendtec may have pioneered the viral marketing video with their “Will It Blend” series that spawned memes, merchandise and ended up getting placement on TV shows. Still, marketing is a fickle beast, and the ad campaign you pumped a lot of money into can end up not appealing to the audience you intended to reach. But that slip-up on Twitter ended up going viral and spurring a massive traffic increase: perhaps not the textbook definition of hero content, but could very well be Darkhorse content.

Hero content might not have X-ray vision or be able to lift a Winnebago, but it’s meant to be seen and heard by millions. Video content is your most probable bet for hero content, followed by social content, since it would have vast resources behind its production and distribution. Being seen by a huge amount of people is the end goal of hero content, and going viral is simply the way to make it happen short of buying ad space at the Super Bowl.

Rachel P is a 4-star content strategist (Strategist Account #541) available to help you with keyword maps, customer journey maps, and buyer personas in addition to writing for you! She’s also an indie game developer, writer, and consultant. If you would to like to hire Rachel to devise a content strategy for you, please contact your account manager or send a direct message.


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