How do we create engaging content?
As marketers, this is our existential dilemma — one we’re constantly trying to solve. The ambiguity of “engaging” — and the existence of myriad content options and platforms — can muddy the waters our businesses swim in. Without properly strategizing for your brand, you run the risk of drowning (as many marketers do).
However, across a span of industries, a number of brands exist where content flourishes. We took a peek into their campaigns and offerings and gathered a few insights. Above all, these campaigns spoke to a few marketing truths: Interactions are important, social shares fuel virality, and surprises sell.
In the interest of specificity, we’ve targeted brands that have mastered individual elements of the content marketing tapestry. The following five can teach content marketers a thing or two about what content can be at its best.
“Red Bull? That’s not a brand I associate with my relatively dour perception of publishing,” says those who read this. But surprise! Red Bull is dominating the online publishing game with The Red Bulletin. Story topics crisscross from weird music to the oldest living women by means of absurd visuals and compelling copy that will make your brain curdle.
Much like Facebook’s Instant Articles, Red Bull is showing us the power of new age publishing. Interactive content, presented in beautiful formats and packages, is like a siren’s call for Millennial eyes. Furthermore, seamless, animated scrolling ensures that the fun never has to end. Rather, consumers continually engage with content — and its hosted ad space — without conscious reticence.
It’s gold, people.
Interdisciplinary efforts in marketing are valuable for a number of reasons, the foremost being the exchange of expertise to create a greater whole. Verizon’s work with popular designer Christian Siriano is an excellent example of how industries’ crossed paths can power original, engaging brand content.
As part of last fall’s Fashion Rocks charity event, viewers were encouraged to tweet about fashion and music, among other event elements, with their tweets tallied in real time by the telecom giant. Each mention correlated to a color or geometric shape that become part of a pattern. The result was a tangible textile, born of crowdsourcing, woven into elegant apparel, and produced by Siriano’s keen eye. Don’t like the pattern? Well, that’s literally your fault.
Much like guest posting can boost ROI on blog content, consider what your business is doing to mine interest and expertise from those who exist outside of your industry. Surprise potential clients with what your brand is capable of. A dress may not use a cell phone, but its wearer most likely does.
Chevy took its brand tagline, “Find New Roads,” to new heights in its collaboration with director Spike Lee when it crafted a short film on teen baseball sensation Mo’ne Davis. The short film follows Davis as she tells her story of empowerment to young female athletes. For a brand that is grounded in Americana, “Throw Like a Girl” was a profound deviation in brand strategy and targeting, albeit one that paid off.
The 21st century has brought us a number of shifts in marketing strategy. Perhaps the greatest of these is embracing the empathetic, socially conscious brand. Chevy may be known for its trucks, but by diversifying its brand image and values, it tells us anyone can drive them. Most people can’t throw a 70 mph fastball. For this columnist, that’s not for a lack of trying.
Branding isn’t exclusively practiced by corporations. Often, the best brands can be found rapping, twerking, or quarterbacking. One of these brands is rapper Childish Gambino (Donald Glover by birth). Gambino’s a film noir type — one who recently put forth an integrated marketing master class with the release of his latest feature album, “Because the Internet.”
Alongside a short film, viral social media content, a written screenplay, and a downloadable app to accompany performances, Gambino even hid a song within his website’s HTML code. Regardless of whether you find his content appealing, the man’s got a marketer’s panache.
Many marketers struggle to craft enough content, much less content that generates engagement. But Gambino shows us that molding a brand community comes from constantly supplying it with intimate content.
Your consumers should be excited about their next discoveries. By employing multiple platforms — and keeping his market on its toes — Gambino created hype that led to his album being nominated for a 2015 Grammy award. Now, that’s ROI.
At Influence & Co., we officially coined our blog “The Knowledge Bank,” a title that implicates us as a content marketing resource — we’re not the only ones. Many companies use blogs to model their expertise and generate leads. What about blogs in higher education?
Stanford University is a world-renowned academic institution, but it’s not resting on its laurels. Insights by Stanford Business is a revolutionary resource in the academic world. It’s a knowledge bank on everything from Big Pharma to ideation to design. It’s also a branding masterpiece.
Ranked by Kapost as the third best brand in content marketing, Insights is a “treasure trove for prospective students and professionals alike.” Content doesn’t have to be — and really shouldn’t be — promotional. As Stanford shows us, supplying expert insights can generate brand growth on its own. Plus, this model discourages the sort of keyword-stuffed garbage you wouldn’t feed to your neighborhood raccoon.
So how do you create engaging content?
If these brands are any indications, you won’t build Rome in a day. That said, employ a focused content strategy that has a clear message through integrated outlets pooled as a resource bank — you’ll find you’ve started out well.
Masters of content exist all around us. It’s time content marketers look for inspiration outside of their industries, lest they get trapped within.
When it comes to ideation, I love my 4th, 5th, and 6th thoughts. The first three are often contrived. Improvisational comedy is my art, Nelson Mandela is my hero, and Zooey Deschanel is my love.