In this short blog you will find information on Content Marketing, a breakdown of what it is, some useful links where you can do a deep dive into the subject and how to use this strategy with popular Social Media internet sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
If you’re asking yourself what exactly Content Marketing is, in my opinion, it can be defined as a marketing strategy using sometimes modern and sometimes traditional storytelling methods. In its essence, this tool is used to create some emotional attachment between the potential audience and the company. The strategy tries to invent a new way in which the brand can offer its products to their customer base without creating an invasive marketing campaign but by using popular storytelling methods. If the brand is successful in creating this sort of “bond” they create customer loyalty, where the customer will potentially overlook other products that even might be cheaper or better and that is the true power of content marketing, a tool that can transfer a simple customer to a lifelong client and an advocate for your brand. This fundamental marketing tactic creates the belief that the brand actually cares about its customers and their opinions and in todays digital world where the customer has a wide variety of options to contact the brand and also leave real time feedback it is import for every company to try and establish a lasting and reliable relationship with its clients.
The Content Marketing Institute (CMI), defines this strategy as:
… a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
It is an insightful definition and the CMI is a great place to further deep dive into this topic, here is a link to their site:
The CMI also produced a great video that breaks down the Content Marketing strategy of John Deere, American agricultural, construction, and forestry machinery manufacturing company, in the short video you can see how by the creation of their magazine “The Furrow” they were able to create a lasting relationship with their customers that continued for generations. Here is a link to the clip:
Another example of great Content Marketing strategy is the “Share a Coke” campaign that was launched in Australia in 2011. Now Coca-Cola is not a newcomer to making popular marketing strategies but this one is a magnificent example of what a little bit of creativity and a dash of personalization can bring to the table. The campaign basically let customers personalize their bottles by using their site or just searching for a bottle with the right name at the local store. The campaign was so successful that it soon went worldwide and I am guessing that even you at some point have stumbled across a Coke bottle with your name and maybe even bought it. By asking people to also share their product with their friends, the company managed to establish an emotional connection with their customers. In different countries, Coca-Cola did also variations on this strategy, for example in China the company did not print first names but popular nicknames, taking in my opinion this strategy to a new level and creating an even more personal connection with its customer base. If you are interested in reading more about this campaign, follow the link:
Another great example to mention is GoPro, a company that makes small, high quality and easy to use sport cameras that can be used in a number of versatile environments. GoPro is also maybe the best company for user-generated content or UGC. The brand inspires its customer base to not only purchase its product but also create content that can be used by them. Years ago at the AdAge CMO Strategy Summit Paul Crandell, SVP of GoPro, said:
We’re not just a camera company anymore. We’re an enjoyment platform for people all over the world to watch.
This statement is also the company’s public image, if you see an action wide angle video on YouTube it was probably made by a GoPro. In short this brand has managed to make its name synonymous with action style videos and create a Content Marketing strategy where its user base is willing to spend money and buy the brands product and even create content for GoPro, content that they later can use as promotional material. If you are interested in reading more about GoPro’s success story the CMI has got you covered again:
Now let us move on to the social media part. The first thing I have to say here is that the social media giants like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are constantly tweaking their algorithms trying to maintain and further expand the reach of their platforms. As of recent 2019 Instagram started experimenting with removing the number of likes posts get on their platform. Countries like Australia, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Canada and Italy already have their likes hidden while this measure is still being tested in other regions. A massive change like that will probably trigger an algorithm change for their platform thus making it necessary to adapt new marketing strategies. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri, according to Wired, stated:
We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health.
It seems that Instagram is going down the same road as Facebook did in 2019. Facebook opted for re-inventing their platform and concentrating more on the user, friends and family posts. The algorithm was changed to favor images and posts made from your family and close friends, content that features selfies or group family photos is pushed to the top. Content generated from groups and pages ended up buried in your feed, in short Facebook re-made their platform so that an agency, company or brand can’t get an organic reach to the users. The only way to expand your audience on the platform seems to be by using their ad program and since the company has had some shady advertisers on their platform in the past, real users are hesitant to interact with promoted posts. I am guessing the Instagram staff wants to achieve a similar goal, eliminate the influencers reach and make their ad platform the only way for brands to be able to reach real users. Keep in mind that this is all speculations and I can’t present any proof but I guess 2020 will show us where the social media giants are heading but my opinion is that they want to cut out the middleman and concentrate the revenue from advertisers to their ad platforms thus eliminating or restricting the influencer market.
Twitter is another platform that is making changes to their advertising strategy by planning to eliminate political ads. According to TheGuardian:
Twitter’s ban on political ads is unnecessarily severe and simplistic, disadvantages challengers, and is likely unenforceable – but it was a great PR move for the company, for now.
Maybe the move from Twitter’s founder and CEO, Jack Dorsey is a good way to gain some favor from the user base since the platform has been plagued by a number of complex issues but we will see how it will hold up in the future. In my opinion, this will maybe restrict political newcomers from gaining reach and will also restrict the spread of new political ideas on the platform but again we have wait and see how this will play out.
One thing we can learn from all of this is that traditional marketing methods will not always be useful on social media platforms so advertisers will have to adapt new strategies in order to successfully engage with their potential audience. In recent years McDonalds has launched an interesting ad campaign in Japan. The fast food giant strategically targeted their Japanese audience by creating anime videos featuring their products. The brilliance of this ad campaign is in the style of their animation, the video is not just some company trying to sell you a product, no, the company decided to make a short but beautiful looking anime, a video with gorgeous animation style that makes you want to sit down and watch it, just because it’s beautiful. The ad campaign shows that it correctly targeted its Japanese audience and the commercial did so well that it got a lot of attention outside the country, don’t believe me, well take a look:
At this point I have to also say that I am not sponsored by McDonalds, I just like the ad.
Targeted advertising like that is really what the future is about. Content Marketing means to know your audience and create advertisement that is suited for them, thus you will create a bond that keeps your customers coming back for more because now they have an emotional connection with your brand.
Going back to social media platforms the lesson we can learn is that a thoughtful ad campaign can bring a lot of attention to your brand or product but in order for it to be successful the ad must not be a simple ad, it needs to tell a story, create engagement and make your potential customers want to share it and interact with it. In order to do that first we must understand how these platforms work and how they present the content to their users.
The most important thing we have to realize is how short the attention span of users on social media platforms is. Literally your image or video will get about a fraction of a second from the user and in that fraction the user will judge your post, so you will have to use that time to attract his attention. Another thing that you will need to consider is on what device the users will be seeing your content, most people use social media platforms via smartphone maybe on a five inch screen, maybe more if they are using a tablet. Taking also in consideration that your post, at best, will occupy a third of that five-inch space you will have less than 2 inches to impress your audience, so you better make those two inches count. Your post should be colorful enough to grab the user’s attention and not be cluttered with information. Keep also in mind that videos on social media platforms get 38% more attention that static image posts, this statistic was posted on various sites (exp. https://sproutsocial.com/), so making some video content to boost your brand engagement would be a good idea. Another reason to make video content is for the story section on Instagram and Facebook. Stories is a new medium for reaching people and the main difference between a video post and a story post is that the second is a vertical video post, so you will be tasked in creating a new video style that suits the vertical format. Some people just put a blank frame on the horizontal video but by doing that you will not utilize the potential of the story format, which can be very powerful and engaging for the simple reason that the story video you post will occupy the users full screen and for that time the user will only see your post without any distractions. You will have the full attention of the user and this will be your chance to make him want to see what you have to offer. Here you can find some interesting stats about Instagram Stories vs Video:
It seems that the story format is better for getting more engagement with your audience and it is more likely to be shared by the users with their friends. Keep also in mind that the story format is used mainly by a younger audience that came from SnapChat or is on TikTok. I would say the older generation uses the story section far less that the younger, so if you are trying to reach this type of audience you should put more effort in that section.
So to sum up all of the information, your post should be colorful in order to attract attention, it should not be cluttered with information, it should be easy to recognize and fit in the format in was designed for and of course it should be part of a larger marketing strategy aimed at creating awareness and brand loyalty. So take a deep breath, think about all of the great marketing strategies you saw above from other brands and start to develop yours, the more time and effort you put the bigger the reward from your audience will be.
Wrriten by Mihail, a photographer working excursively for Dreamstime, currently living in Genoa, Italy. He studied Fine Arts with a major in Decoration and Painting.