I don’t need to remind anyone about the power of content marketing, it’s everywhere these days from Hungry Jacks to Uber. But, what exactly is content marketing and how is it best carried out?
With a quick Google search, you’ll see that content marketing is the use of online material in order to promote. Well, that’s a good start, but in reality, it’s much more than that.
Content marketing is a subtle art. Above all else, it’s about ensuring that your company has some connection in people’s everyday lives, without them feeling like you’re giving them hard sell constantly. It’s about making use of every way that the internet age provides you to get your company into the minds of the general population and keeping it there- without driving them mad in the process.
Browsing Instagram yesterday I came across the account from Rolex, and it got me thinking. Who in the world doesn’t know what a Rolex watch is? Why does a company so massive need to be on a platform like Instagram (a site for sharing holiday snaps with friends and taking photos of your breakfast)? They have a beautiful website, so, what’s the point?
Well, 5.9 million followers are the point.
A website is all well and good, but it doesn’t mix. It’s like someone at a party standing in the corner and keeping to themselves. The personal nature of Instagram is why brands flock to it. One minute you’re scrolling past Dwayne The Rock Johnson working out at the gym and then you’re seeing a Rolex. That’s something that doesn’t happen anywhere else.
Another good example is a company like Deliveroo. Almost the polar opposite of a brand like Rolex in that Deliveroo is quite new. It’s a company that is heavily involved in a not insignificant shift in the restaurant industry and the way that people dine. It’s essentially a courier company for food, and you’ve no doubt seen their bicycles all over the city with distinctive branding.
Deliveroo does a lot of content marketing, but it’s not so apparent, which means it’s working. They run a Foodscene which is a site that looks a cross between a food blog and an online magazine. And it’s fascinating.
What these articles do is stir up interest and in turn brand recognition. Even though they’re discussing things like up and coming restaurants and smoothie trends (which isn’t exactly world-shattering content), it’s doing it’s primary job- creating an everyday presence. The articles are then shared by Deliveroo’s Twitter or Facebook and deliver bite-sized (pun intended) content daily to more than a million people.
Content marketing is indeed an art, both simple and sophisticated simultaneously. And, one thing is for sure: it’s quickly becoming a requirement for any business wanting to thrive online.
When you hear the word “story”, what do you think of? Is it “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” because it was your favourite? Or something more classic like “The Great Gatsby” or “Taming of the Shrew”. Either way, you have a base notion on what a story is and what it should be. It’s so embedded in your brain that I don’t have to say anything more than the word “story” and you’ve already thought of one.
So why do these specific stories enter your mind? Maybe it’s one you remember from high school or one your mother read to you. No matter the way you remember it, it means something to you — and at the middle of any story should be meaning.
Why is it children are still taught Shakespeare in school? Why do we all know of the “Three Little Pigs” when half of the world’s most popular stories were written hundreds of years ago in a dialect we no longer practice? The answer lies in the fact that stories (good ones at least) have an incredible generational impact. When a story is well written it has far-reaching power.
Every day that your business puts out content, sells products or solves problems it’s telling a story. It’s your job to shape what is said. Every individual company has a story, it doesn’t matter if you sell beds or manage AdWords— your company has a story to be told.
You may have read this and said to yourself, “Ben, I work for an accounting firm, and there’s not much I can do to make that interesting”. Every company can tell a compelling story, regardless of how ‘bland’ their product or service may seem.
Have a look at this LG commercial for its line of washing machines. I know that isn’t the most appealing sounding commercial (especially if you’re not in the market for a new washing machine), just trust me.
Watched it? That was a simple piece of storytelling with a sale in mind. LG wanted to show off how stable their machine was, and they found an ingenious way to do it. Does a deck of cards have anything to do with the washing machine’s primary function? No, but it sure made LG stand out, and would be in your mind come your trip to Harvey Norman.
Have a look at this from Pepsi.
Now, what did that have to do with Pepsi? The answer is nothing really. There wasn’t even a mention of Pepsi in it, and the first logo we saw was right at the end. However, it’s got almost 16 million views. That translates to more brand recognition which translates to sales.
Videos are a great way to tell a story, but infographics can work the same and at a fraction of the cost. Have a look at these:
Those are all visually appealing and make the information they’re trying to share easily digestible. All of these factors make them another way to tell a compelling story.
When you break it down, you don’t have to be the centre of a story for it to be great, you just need to tell a good story that reflects positively on you as a company.
So ask yourself, what story are you telling?.
The constant flow of change is complex, yet interwoven in the world of digital marketing.
The trends don’t work alone, rather they work together to accelerate and amplify the way we market our businesses. Faster and cheaper telecommunication, as well as wifi, made broadband as essential as electricity. Mobile phones gave rise to social networks, their in-built cameras adding unquantifiable amounts of content in an already deafening online world.
Faster change and complexity are now the norm. With all that said, which digital marketing trends are driving change, and how do we keep up?
I don’t just say that because I run a digital marketing agency. Promise!
Honestly, digital marketing has never really been free. Social networks, however, gave us a short taste of that. Not anymore.
When most of us (myself included) discovered digital marketing, the only way to pay for attention was banner ads on websites. Yahoo was the king of that. That was the 90s.The 90s were a strange time. Then in the early 2000s, the rise of Google lead to a new digital advertising option: search advertising.
This was a way to make money that offered rivers of gold as it was relatively cheap to advertise online. Like any good business though, Google changed the rules and increased the rates, much like Facebook have in the last few years.
Now, it’s a two horse race.
The concentration of revenue and the ownership of platforms means that advertising options may be complex, but are still concentrated. Snapchat is trying to wedge their way in after going public, but it has some major work to do if it wishes to make a dent on the two massive incumbents of Facebook and Google.
Today, the way online marketing works mean you either need the skills within your company or you need a partner. And yes, I just linked back to my company SponsoredLinX. It’s kind of our speciality.
One thing the rise of social networks did was humanize the web.
Being online was no longer the domain of the geeks. It was sleek and easy. You published a Facebook post or a blog, you could Tweet, or upload your own videos with absolute ease. You created your own content and built an organic distribution by growing your follower count.
This is now more complex with more networks, more diverse digital advertising options, and more types of content.
So how does one keep up?
More tools…or better ones?
The choices within digital technology have also exploded, and the number of tech tools available for marketers has been estimated at over 4000. With that sheer volume, the only way to manage the rising complexity is with marketing automation. There are many options, which means choosing is difficult.
There are the platforms that aim to be “all in one” tools, like Marketo, Infusionsoft and Hubspot to name a few, that can assist in scaling your marketing. There are also tools for growing your social media followers with automation like SociallyRich for Instagram and Social Quant for Twitter. Then there are tools for moderating comments- BrandBastion.
Marketing automation is still in its early phase, and the next trend is where it’ll start to get interesting.
Live streaming video is, in my humble opinion, the hottest trend in digital marketing right now.
As per usual, Google was the first to innovate with the advent of Google Hangouts. However, an app called Meerkat was the first live video streaming app that caught mass attention. Then it was Blab, and then Periscope. Only the latter survives thanks to its acquisition by a small startup called Twitter. You may have heard of them.
When Facebook Live was launched in 2015 though, the game changed.
So, why live stream?
My cousin Mark Zuckerberg* has suggested that people comment ten times more and watch 300% longer on live videos over regular ones. In terms of marketing, that kind of engagement is gold. However, it can feel a bit saturated when everyone’s doing it. I know my timeline is full of random companies live streaming launches nobody but themselves care about. So, be careful when beaming yourself to the world without creating a presence first.
*Mark Zuckerberg is not my cousin
So, that’s part one. Check back here next week where I’ll be looking at the rise of algorithms, the unstoppable force of AI, and influencer marketing.
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