Storytelling is not new to brands. All brand marketing is after all a storytelling exercise. The fundamental shift that has happened with the internet and social media is that stories are no longer ‘told’.
They are ‘formed’ at the overlap of the brand’s message, the user’s interest or need for the content and the point at which the message catches the user’s attention.
A publisher’s editorial insights into its audience, a platform’s capabilities to serve brand messages to a wide audience but with personalisation, data and insights into who the audience actually is — all of these come together to help a brand achieve its engagement goals online. And that constitutes a successful brand marketing strategy.
Publishers can get actionable data to the table: Content marketing is successful when you can give the user content they want or need. The content strategy needs to be powered by relevance and context — both of which can be determined by data insights.
Content needs editorial insights: Editors have incredible insights about their audience and know how to grow them on a sustainable basis. They are able to keep the focus on “What’s in it for me?” which makes the content more inspiring and engaging for users. With their knowledge and understanding of the reader, they can find interesting stories, angle them and plan for how they will be told in the best way.
‘Talking with the consumer’ is far more powerful than ‘talking to’: As storytelling gets interactive, brands need to work with publishers for a two-way dialogue with consumers. For instance, Nescafé moved its entire web presence to Tumblr instead of sticking to the traditional website routine. Consumers began sharing personal experiences, pictures, videos and GIFs on this platform. Nescafé created a sense of community among its consumers for whom the coffee became more than a product.
Ability to go where the user is: It is not enough to have compelling content, one also needs to distribute it fast. With new ad formats like native ads, publishers can seamlessly distribute their content marketing to the places their customers are most likely to see them. However, it’s important to note that while content marketing and native advertising often overlap, they are not the same thing. Native ads are defined by how the ad looks and acts within the experience it’s served.
Content marketing on the other hand focusses on the actual content created by the brand to drive awareness and engagement.
Whether you do it on your own or work with a publisher, here are a few content marketing tips you should pay attention to:
Focus on positive intent: Choose consumer interest over self-promotional content. It has to be about the consumer and not the brand — give the audience a compelling reason to want to listen to the brand.
Tell stories that matter: Simply publishing generic content amounts to ‘noise’. If a brand has to bust the clutter, it needs to be the source of original content — which is either useful or entertaining or informative.
Be creative: Stories are meant to entertain. Never forget that. Also new ad formats allow for experimentation so simply refitting a TV commercial or a print campaign into visible creatives for digital may not be the right strategy.
Keep it simple: Light-hearted and easy to read content will engage a greater audience and help you go viral.