Coronavirus has been making its way around the world for some time, but when it began to cause panic on Australian shores, Queensland Health made this post:
Amongst content promoting its employees and free health initiatives, this brand stepped up to provide the advice and reassurance its audience needed, without inducing more panic or fear. Queensland Health didn’t even mention ‘Coronavirus’ in its caption. It was simply a reminder to maintain good hygiene in the wake of a dangerous disease.
When faced with global issues, how brands communicate with us is more vital than ever. It’s even more vital that the communication is genuine, unbiased and well-meaning – because sometimes it’s about being informative, rather than making the sale.
From government organisations to lifestyle products and business software, today’s blog post discusses content marketing and how brands can leverage their value to deliver content that fulfils its audiences’ needs to build loyalty and long-term trust (rather than make a quick sell).
Content marketing is the industry ‘buzzword’ of 2020. While it’s been around for a while now, marketers and brands are truly realising the impact of organic content in driving audience connections. So what is content marketing? Is it right for your brand, and if so, how do you do it well?
What is it?
By definition, content marketing is about creating and sharing digital content that “…does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services”.
Modern marketing is no longer about selling but developing long term connections with a brand’s audience through valuable content that measures what you offer, with unbiased tips, tricks and stories without a phone number, price or link at the end encouraging them to purchase. Content marketing strikes the right balance between the two.
Consider a social media post like this one from social media management tool, Buffer.
Using guest bloggers, ‘how-to’s’ and ‘listicles’ (see right), Buffer creates strong content that doesn’t “sell, sell, sell” but establishes the brand as a reliable, trustworthy, informative source of information, rather than a product. This enables Buffer to create a relationship with its audience beyond the “seller-customer” to drive long-term connections which are vital to sustaining customers and ensuring repurchases.
For B2C product-based brands like Frank Body, an Australian skin care brand, memes and popular culture content resonate well with its young female audience. This post (see left) simply shares a relatable ‘retweet’, encouraging followers to tag their ‘best babe (friend)’. It’s a simple post with an intention to engage its audience, not sell to it.
When you look at Frank Body’s Instagram feed as a whole, it’s clear this brand has nailed the perfect balance of branded content, with user-generated and pop culture content (see below).
So, Buffer and Frank Body have got their content marketing down, but how can you do the same?
How do you do it?
Whether you’re service-based or product-based, B2B or B2C, there is a form of content marketing that is right for you. But there’s three steps you need to take before you dive head first into content creation.
A study by Zazzle Media found 65% of companies struggle to produce content consistently engaging content. At Evolve, we believe this comes down to not knowing three core things – your audience, your channels and your value.
1. Know your audience
Without understanding who you’re speaking to, their needs and wants, you can’t provide value to them.
If you’re an existing brand, view your website, social media and email analytics – who are the core audiences you’re speaking to? You can also leverage the power of your existing audience to gain more insights through a survey. For example, you could perform an email questionnaire and incentivise your followers to complete it by offering a discount code for your products or services.
If you’re a start-up, uses tool like SEMRush, Social Blade and Sprout Social to view how similar brands/competitors are performing and who their audiences are. It’s also powerful to view your industry reports, as well as marketing ones. We recommend Deloitte and Hubspot for some really valuable statistics and ideas.
You’ll likely find a few audience segments within these findings, so create a spreadsheet detailing each audience’s unique demographic (age, location, income) and psychographic (hobbies, attitudes, values) factors. This will help you derive information about their needs, motivators and barriers – vital to creating value-filled content. It’s important to remember that your audience is always changing, so run reports and surveys regularly to ensure your strategy remains adaptable.
2. Know your channels
Vital to knowing your audience is also knowing where they spend time online.
a. Know the purpose of each channel
With so many channels to choose from online, it can be tempting to dip your toe into every one. But with content marketing, it’s all about quality over quantity. We’ve experienced far better results with clients who focus on delivering high-quality content on a few channels, rather than spreading themselves too thin across multiple.
If you’re unsure where to start, here’s a quick guide to the purpose of each of the main content marketing channels at most brand’s disposal:
||Brands with older, high income audiences|
||Brands with younger audiences and appealing visual branding|
||Brands who have a strong strategy for Twitter (this can go exceptionally well, and equally as badly if executed wrong)|
||B2B brands with a professional, decision-making audience|
||B2C brands with consumers at the end of the purchase-funnel|
||Brands with strong visual and ‘experience’ appeal|
||Brands able to offer thought leadership and broad industry insights|
|Brands with a strong online presence (useable website) that can drive traffic to a supplementary content piece eg. blog|
With all of these channels, it’s important that you select ones that not only apply to your offering and industry but can be cultivated by an experienced marketer. If you’re unskilled on a particular platform, we recommend reaching out to an expert to guide you with set up, content pillars and KPIs so you can effectively execute your content marketing.
b. Know what channels and content your audience responds well to
For startups, this will be a matter of just starting. Guage your posts’ performance over the course of a couple of months and observe trends in your engagement, reach and impressions. This will indicate which type of creative and copy resonates best with your audience.
It can also be helpful to view competitors’ social media and blog posts, or subscribe to their email list. Observe what kind of content they post and how many comments, likes and shares it generates. This will give you an indication of what the market, as a whole, is most interested in.
Established brands can draw on their existing content to view long-term trends in engagement. Take not of trends in writing style, visuals and length as well, as these all feed into an effective content marketing strategy.
Is the content diverse? Does it include photos, videos, long and short form copy? Is it your own content, reposted or user-generated?
Once you understand which channels and content your audience responds best to, you’ll be ready to create and execute your strategy.
3. Know your value
What expertise and unique value can you offer your audience?
Now that you understand who you’re talking to and where, you can develop a strategy based on what they want to see, and the type of content best for that platform. Some audiences will prefer to view videos on Facebook, or long-form captions on static Instagram posts.
For example, B2B business planning and note-taking software brand, Evernote, began a series sharing customer stories and championing its community (see left). For Evernote, developing trust and proving results to its audience was clearly a goal identified through audience research. The brand clearly knew its value, and went about communicating that in a way that engaged and inspired its audience.
This strategy could work well for a brand finding some segments of its audience are failing to convert to a paid plan after trialling their free option. By sharing peer-stories, brands can build trust and loyalty among their audience, and prove the worth of their offering through more organic, less explicit means.
For a B2C brand like GoPro, creating shareable, experience-based content sells the benefits and ‘dream’ behind its offering, not the product itself. GoPro clearly profiled its audience to understand that the people who purchase its product are the kind of people who’ll also watch extreme sport compilations and lifestyle content. By developing branded videos for its Youtube channel, GoPro provided this value in an engaging way, without the product plug or pricetag.
The bottom line
While extreme sports and inspiring stories can add value to our lives as consumers, content marketing goes beyond surface-level information.
When society is affected by natural disasters, global pandemics and national crises, it’s important that brands step up, show leadership and create content that speaks to their audience on a level that goes beyond the sale.
When Australia was affected by the most extreme bushfires it’s seen in years, home-grown clothing brand, Cue, broke its usual Instagram feed to share raw, confronting images from the front line.
These posts strayed from the brand’s typical promotional content to deliver information about where they could donate and how they could help those affected. It was met with praise from followers who admired Cue’s leadership and compassion.
In this blog post we touched on how to nail your content marketing with posts that speak to your audience’s needs and provide value without an intention to sell. This is developed through three stages (knowing your audience, channels and value).
At Evolve, we believe in the power of content marketing and we also believe in the power of brands leading the way in the face of world crises. Because when you share content that is in the best interests of your audience, not your bottom line, brand loyalty, trust and success falls into place.
What does your brand’s content marketing look like? If you’d like some clarity, contact us today on 07 3254 1911 or firstname.lastname@example.org