November 8, 2013

2014: The Content Marketing Backlash Begins

by admin in News

Content marketing has been one of the key PR trends for a while now, although the concept is 100+ years old the term is the latest ‘buzz word’.Content can mean almost anything that is used to actively engage an audience in your organization, the purpose of this could be to raise awareness and build a relationship, drive trial of a product or service or build loyalty.  Anything from brand magazines, blogs, research papers, videos, imagery, apps and infographics can be classed as content marketing. In today’s world of instant access to social channels, websites and other information there is now a heck of a lot of it…and we are only at the beginning because it is so overly hyped. Everyone wants to be part of it and it’s in danger of a backlash.

The problem is that too much of it is distinctly average. We are starting to see frustrations from consumers and communities already, they are being bombarded from all quarters with it. Thus the expectations and standards as to what constitutes great content is getting higher and higher. PR practitioners that can do it well will blossom and anything short of really good or great is at risk of getting shot down and potentially doing exactly the opposite of what you want it to do – turn people off.

The thing is brilliant content marketing requires insight, relevance and investment. Too many brands and their advisors are just throwing content out there and hoping some of it sticks with their audience. It isn’t grounded in strategy.

Pretty much anything can be considered content, so knowing what to use, what to create, when and where to use it and why you are using it is crucial. The process to arrive at a great content marketing strategy isn’t that hard but it’s important, I see so much stuff that has jumped all these steps and has just put something out there on an instinct that they thought it was a good idea and people would like it.  Do you really think the great content marketing campaigns of the last year or two did that?  I mean really?

Here are a couple of brands that I think do content marketing excellently. One is a specific social campaign for Oreo, but sits brilliantly into their wider marketing platforms, and the other from Kraft Foods is a great way to use your website as a portal for regular shareable and relevant content:

  • Oreo’s Daily Twist campaign to celebrate being 100 years old – http://vimeo.com/65335930
  • Kraft Foods has been using its website for sometime to build a community and resource that shares food-related content and recipe’s, and allows users to interact with one another – http://www.kraftrecipes.com/home.aspx

Whilst it isn’t brain surgery, it does require a level of skill to implement it and it needs to be implemented into wider marketing strategies, so it can help amplify positioning and messaging. You get this right and you have a very powerful approach to audience engagement. I already see in my own Facebook and Twitter feeds people berating ‘shit’ content that is appearing in their own feeds.

Some tips:
1. Know your audience. Who are they, where are they and what do they like? Depending on your brand think about what inspires them, worries them or will make them laugh.

2. Tell a story. One of pieces of content can be fine if they are consistent and work for your audience, but creating a brand narrative is a great way to create ongoing and sustained engagement. Make it meaningful and relevant to your audience.

3. Link your strategy to a business goal. Otherwise what is the point? It might be simply continuing to develop loyalty but unless you set this up, you aren’t focusing on what it can do for you.

3. Use the data. Work out what words and images people use when talking about your brand or the category, and if they sit well with you then use them. It is ideal if they are being used in search because that will support SEO. If you have an existing community then you know who they are, where they are, their age and what else they like apart from your brand – this is a gold dust in helping craft the right content and in developing partnerships with like-minded brands.

4. Research and measure effectiveness. What is working and why, and equally what is not and why. Know this and you can continually improve your content marketing.

Written by James Wright, Managing Director – Red Agency & Havas PR Asia-Pacific