One can barely get through a day without hearing about how brands are the new publishers, or how the rise of brand journalism is equipping marketers with new tools for telling their company’s story.
Fact is, it’s true. In the new era of business, excellent content is the golden currency that is redefining how brands interact with their audiences. It is undoubtedly an exciting time for those who can grasp, hold and evolve to develop an authoritative, believable voice in this new climate of storytelling. On the other hand, the new era could potentially sound the death knell for those who cling too tightly to old-world narrative roles.
In the quest to create quality content, authenticity is key. Quality content should never be contrived, insincere or underhand about its intentions. So much is at stake when publishing content that represents your brand, its values and tone of voice – that it’s well worth taking heed of 5 guiding rules of producing authentic content.
1. Be honest
The fruits of content marketing labours will, with promotional and placement efforts, reach far and wide, inviting readers, shares and comments. It is imperative, then, that all assertions are backed up with valid evidence, or highlighted as personal opinion or as anecdotal references if applicable. Linked to this, we are seeing a growing trend for ads and advertorials implying false endorsements from celebrities. Even genuine endorsements of this sort only serve to raise question marks in the realm of true quality content – independently sourced information is far more valuable in the eyes of your readers.
2. Identify content marketing as ‘brand journalism’ or similar
Any content written or provided by an organisation, or on behalf of an organisation, should be clearly identified as such. The days of overtly promotional advertorial style content are, thankfully, dead – but sponsored material still has a rightfully valid place in quality publications. As long as pieces are well written and informative, the fact that they sit under the content marketing umbrella will not put readers off. More »
A longstanding trailblazer in the realm of content marketing (think full throttle action sports videos and a freefall space jump stunt) – Red Bull has surpassed itself with its recent effort.
Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) is a month-long music festival featuring lectures, concerts, and workshops set in a dedicated space. Last year, it was held in the capital of cool, New York City. Granted, the incredible sounds of homegrown new musical talent presented a vast resource of inspiration for content – but Red Bull took content marketing to dizzying new heights. Not only were the content efforts around RBMA a stellar example of getting brand marketing right, each piece is an inspiring and informative nugget for musos, culture junkies and plain old hipsters. So, what key learnings can smaller businesses take away from Red Bull’s content masterpiece?:
1. Keep brand principles front of mind
Your overarching brand principles should always be the glue that binds the content together, irrelevant of platform. For Red Bull, this was a no-brainer, since RBMA is serious about offering a platform to showcase up-and-coming unknown artists. In cheesier terms (that aren’t usually heard outside of the organisation), the ethos is cultural engagement through ‘giving wings to people and ideas’. Define your brand principles before embarking on anything content-related for your organisation. More »
Social media is driving a global trend for the sharing of entertaining content, according to the annual Global Entertainment Study conducted by PR firm Edelman.
One of the study’s most pertinent findings is that entertainment is the most shared form of content. While exemplified by the viral sensation that is PSY’s Gangnam Style, this points to how critical it is to invest in catchy, compelling content rather than churn out weary self-promotional sales videos.
Also of note, the report found that emerging markets are spearheading the trend for content sharing.
Jon Hargreaves, managing director, technology, Edelman Europe said: “Developing countries are leading the way in creating great content and building the infrastructure to provide people with access that allows them to interact whenever and wherever they want.”
‘Shareability’ is the holy grail of any content marketing effort, with the ultimate goal always being to offer something so compelling that people can’t help but pass it on via their social communities. Yet, igniting that desire to ‘pass it on’ also presents one of the toughest challenges in social media marketing.
Brands have to work harder than traditional content creators, say film companies or established musicians, to make their work translate onto social media; consumers these days are too switched on to willingly become marketing catalysts. More »
Content creation isn’t easy, as anybody who starts their day facing a blank Word document will testify. By now, most businesses are well aware of the benefits of content marketing, and understand that merely publishing content regularly is not enough to elicit results. With over 181 million blogs now active globally, content creation for today’s switched-on audience requires extra effort. The question is, how can business possibly sustain that effort over the long term?
At BlogStar, as well as creating regular content for our own channels, including this blog, Facebook, our Twitter feed and LinkedIn account, we also assist our clients in developing and seeding compelling content bespoke to their own diverse audiences. This includes, but isn’t limited to, blog posts, white papers, case studies, videos, podcasts and webinars. How do we do it? I’ll let you into a dirty little secret. As well as harnessing the writing talent of our team of journalists, we also make use of a host of tools that exist to make content creation easier, quicker and yield higher quality results…and so should you. Our favourites include:
1. An editorial schedule
Admittedly, a planning device isn’t the sexiest of starts to a list, but any creator of content knows that it is the most fundamental component of their toolkit. As well as steering on what topics you are going to cover on a daily basis, your editorial calendar also enables you to plan topics to cover in coming weeks and months. Vitally, this encourages a narrative of sequential blog posts that build to tell a ‘big picture’ story aligning to broader messaging and business objectives. Another essential point; while an editorial calendar should inform all content creation, it should also offer enough flexibility to react to breaking industry news with topical coverage. More »
Embarking on a content marketing strategy as a small B2B business can be frustrating and daunting. Entering the social sphere and seeing the likes of Hewlett Packard already dominating can make smaller players (say 10-99 employees) feel like giving up before even starting. After all, how will you ever be heard above such big noises with hefty budgets behind them?
We understand your frustration. We also know how to guide you along a content marketing strategy that will get your message in front of the right people. A useful starting point is the realisation that the challenges your business faces are not unique. Major reports, such as the Content Marketing Institute’s recent B2B Small Business Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America, reveal that B2B marketers face similar issues globally.
Challenge #1: Engagement
Over half (54%) of small businesses feel challenged by producing the type of content that engages people, with 21% citing this as their single biggest challenge. Encouragingly, this suggests that marketers are prioritising quality over quantity, and rightly so; prospects who engage with a company’s content are far more likely to go on to initiate a relationship with the organisation.
Solution: Initially, you’ll need to work on your company’s definition of engagement, then go on to create a set of metrics around that. For instance, some businesses value email subscriptions, as subscribers often go on to attend events and convert, while others will have found that LinkedIn interactions generate leads for them. Measure your defined metrics continually to determine which types of content, and placed where, yield the best results. More »
In the ongoing battle for search engine visibility, there is a lot of debate over what exactly is the secret sauce. We all know that the search engines use social signals as a factor in their overall ranking algorithm, and as video remains such an important mix in social sharing, it follows that video content is a powerful way to improve search rankings.
The latest figures from ComScore show that during March 2013, some 182.5 million Americans watched 39.3 billion online content videos during that month alone, surpassing the 13 billion ad views threshold for the first time. That’s a lot of eyeballs hungry for video, and a tremendous opportunity for businesses to create quality content for their target audiences.
It’s all in the timing
When it comes down to it, people are busy. In the age of the lunch hour meaning a quick sandwich taken at the desk, people need their content similarly snackable and easily digestible. The fact is, most people would rather spend two minutes watching an information-rich video than ten minutes reading an article.
As such, video is the perfect medium for your company to quickly and clearly communicate its message and explain why your target audience should do business with you. What’s more, video is an ideal way to build links back to your own site. More »
At BlogStar we know full well that effective content marketing is something akin to genius, that is, 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Having a brilliant idea is just the beginning of a long process. The development and execution of superlative video marketing or blog activity, for example, largely comes down to hard graft. But let’s not undervalue inspiration, it is after all the brainchild of any killer content strategy. Here are 3 strategies that should get sparks flying:
1. Tap into audience emotions
Good content informs, tells a story and leaves the reader somehow better equipped than they were before seeing it. Great content, however, does all this while eliciting a strong emotional response from its desired audience. This is the stuff that gets remembered and is more likely to forge a connection between consumer and brand.
Who’s doing it well?
SAP is one brand using digital content to effectively tap into its target market’s emotions. And to great success. Its innovative Love Hate Data campaign, for example, invited its audience to identify as either data haters or data lovers. The effort included a microsite, infographics, blog posts and two Twitter accounts with the handles @datalovers and @datahaters.
Created to promote SAP’s entry-level business intelligence tool, Crystal Solutions, this campaign sparked more than 700 conversations online and generated 580,902 impressions.
2. Create multimedia content
The beauty of content marketing is the significant potential to tell a richer story and engage more meaningfully in a range of text-based, visual and audio formats. When combined, different formats can serve an audience’s information needs really attentively. More »
Every industry is guilty of jargon. Hands up, the marketing, social media and tech worlds are up there with the key offenders.
The Cloud? Big Data? Both are topics being discussed a lot at the moment, but you’ll be hard pressed to find two people with identical definitions. Referencing buzzwords is fine when you’re talking to those in the know, but when it comes to reaching potential customers, it probably isn’t the right approach.
The truth is that your prospects are time-stretched and information-overloaded: can you risk demanding that they translate wording before getting to your key message? Chances are, they’ll click elsewhere at the first sniff of ‘blue sky thinking’.
Why do people use jargon?
Opinions on jargon remain divided. In the red corner stand the jargon-philes, willing to load their content marketing with enough buzzwords to make even a management consultant blush. In the blue corner stand the staunch anti-jargonists, insisting on proper command of the English language in order to convey clear messages.
As a journalist by trade, my heart leans towards the blue corner brigade. After all, what is the point of language if not to communicate clearly and effectively? Yet the content marketer within notices the ease with which I use the word ‘content’, which would surely have been considered jargon before the profileration of – let’s call a spade a spade – writing, images and the like distributed for marketing ends? More »
Whether your corporate blog covers topics particular to fashion, medical negligence or marketing software, while the industries are unique, the challenges of blogging for business are largely universal. Topping the list of hurdles is the mission to build and expand the blog community. Of course, creating top quality, value-laden blog content is imperative, but beyond this lie some no-brainer methods to ensure that your content gets seen by the right people.
1.Use LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn might not be the right network for every business. For marketers seeking to reach Joe Public with their messaging, we generally advise using Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to augment a blog strategy.
However, for organisations keen to increase their blog traffic and establish a thought leadership position within a given industry, LinkedIn Groups offer a hugely cost-effective channel. Reaching a targeted, business-focused audience, LinkedIn Groups also create viable commercial opportunities.
Select groups wisely to ensure your message is getting in front of the right people. For a boutique PR shop, ‘Public Relations and Communications Professionals’ would be a shrewd starting point, boasting over 250 professional members. A healthy number of members is important, but so are engagement levels as measured by numbers of comments and interactions. More »
Recently, we’ve been speaking to a fair few B2B marketers wondering how to take their content marketing to the next level to drive sales momentum.
At first glance, it seems that these businesses are doing everything right:
With dedicated marketing teams in place, their websites have been upgraded with customer-centric content and active corporate blogs are in place.
Social media activity is being used to support all content posts and each is effectively sticking to the golden rules of content marketing:
1) Don’t talk incessantly about yourself
2) Provide useful information that offers value to your customers
3) Avoid product-focused content at all costs
What’s more, each marketer we spoke to was experiencing a certain level of “success” with their content efforts. Their videos were being shared on Twitter, images were being pinned on Pinterest and blog posts were re-appearing on Facebook timelines.
Yet with aforementioned best practice in place, even the most stellar content can still fail to gain traction and translate into sales. Without a coherent strategy, marketers risk creating superb standalone pieces of content that people read, enjoy and share without ever being motivated to go on to purchase. More »