People know when they are being sold to, they always know.
Content Marketing is all the rage. Everyone, every brand worth their salt is doing it.
However modern man (and woman) has become very very good at consuming media (we've had to) and we all have highly tuned antenna's that can filter out a sales pitch or disingenuous content at a thousand yards.
People know when they are being sold to, they always know!
Most of us want less noise, less interruption. Many of us spend a lot of time and effort working out how to block ads, record TV without ads, download media without ads.
It's even socially acceptable to poke fun at the ad makers.
These videos from the folks at South Park™ capture this idea beautifully.
Even on these video's notice the ad content from Youtube (where these video's are hosted).
Selling is OK - just don't fool yourself that you can disguise selling as content marketing.
Point made I reckon.
So how is a company/brand supposed to get their message across today?
Carefully curated and original content has never been more essential to gain and keep the attention of your audience.
Companies who produce the right, on-brand, original content, establish themselves as reputable sources, as trusted brands.
Content Marketing isn’t (typically) trying to sell anything, it’s purpose is to qualify your brand or gain association with some desirable attribute or idea, in the minds of your audience. It aims to build a reputation rather than lock down sales leads.
But it's a fine line between junk content and being not interesting enough to keep the audience's attention.
Curate with Purpose
Content Marketing can be just copy, a discussion, useful information, research, etc but for the purposes of getting attention, usually includes visual or digital media.
Creating original content can be expensive, particularly visual or multi-media content.
Therefore, it's important to have your strategy well defined and curate your content with purpose.
- consider what your brand stands for,
- why are you in business,
- what's your brands personality,
- who are you talking to,
- who do you want to appeal to,
- what action or outcome are you hoping to achieve?
You need to do this before you commission or develop new content - and test frequently against that strategy, against your brand DNA.
One thing we recommend you do is write a strategic plan for your content marketing and share it with your team. Check back as often as possible to ensure you're all on the same page and review content regularly.
Otherwise it's too easy to wander off track with content. Does that funny cat video, while super awesome, really fit your strategy/purpose? Most likely not.
There are some tactical things you can do to create a authentic original content at minimal cost:
- Consider whether you can repurpose existing content.
- Ask vendors, suppliers, customers to provide content (most will be happy to).
- Run a marketing campaign or contest that generates content that you can use.
- Have your staff record images or video's of themselves, doing their jobs, talking about their day, etc
Don't DO 'Junk Content'
Be wary. 'Junk Content' can damage your reputation just as surely as great content can enhance it.
What is Junk Content?
- Too much content (show a little restraint - please)
- Repetitive content (boring)
- Someone else's content (unless full attribution given and it's relevant)
- Irrelevant content (it's not on-brand or relevant to your audience)
- Stock content (typically images/video)
- False content (lies and deceptions e.g. stock photos of 'your team')
- Out of date content
- Low quality content (unless low quality is part of the story/appropriate)
- Illegal content (you're breaching someone's copyright or IP)
- Offensive content (e.g. politically sensitive content)
- Cat and dog videos
We've all seen various celebrities and sports people's reputations shattered by an inappropriate tweet or image. Think about that for a second. These are typically an individual communicating about themselves. They are the one, most likely to suffer if they screw it up, yet many do.
Now think about your brand, possibly managed and influenced by sometimes a large team of people from different backgrounds and with different personalities and experiences. How much easier is it for an individual who makes a mistep, to wreak havoc on your brand's reputation, with a click of the mouse.
With new digital channels, curating, managing and approving content is more important than ever for brands.
Analyse your results
As you produce curated content it is important to measure and analyse your results.
As you experiment with various forms of content and/or channels, you must track and trace their engagement with it.
This is getting easier every day with a raft of new tools available for tracking engagement - but it's still hard to get right. It's important though that you know how your content is being received and perceived.
Some of our favourite tools:
- Google Analytics - still one of the best tools to track audience and
still free (Read How to Uncover Critical Content Marketing Insights Using Google Analytics)
- BuzzSumo - Helps you discover which content performs best for any topic or competitor in
your space with analytics driven-insights. Compare shares on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.
- MixPanel - Instead of measuring page views, this analytics tool measures actions such
as searches or shares to gain greater insights into user behavior.
- Curalate - This tool uses data to allow users to discover which images in Pinterest
and Instagram are most engaging for their audiences.
Once you have this data you can modify and repurpose your content, adjust your content strategy, so that you remain relevant to your audience.
This is actually at the core of what content marketing is all about, you want your content to be as relevant to your target market as possible - so that they stay engaged, listen to what you have to say and continue to trust your brand.
Ask yourself What content can be/will be absorbed by our audience, that strengthens our position, maintains engagement and avoids the dreaded switch off ?
i.e. Don't bore them to death!
This blog (the one you are reading right now) is an example Content Marketing done right (we trust you agree). We're sharing relevant content to you dear reader without trying to sell you (well maybe just a little by way of association). Good blogs do this well, they share engaging content relevant to the audience. This builds a brand reputation in the mind of the audience.
The pay off for the company sponsoring the blog (that's e-see® in this case), is the association with the area of interest, a reputation for thought leadership in the topic and in the building of trust in the company's brand.
So to sum up,
- People know when you are selling them,
- Create better content,
- Curate with Purpose,
- Be Real,
- Don't do Junk,
- Analyse your content performance then go again.
Happy Branding :)