Content. It’s a term that we are all familiar with and yet it has wildly different meanings for everyone. If you’re anything like me, you start your day off sifting through the morning’s “need-to-know” news stories and thumbing through mindless social media posts before even getting out of bed.
We all generate and share content as a reflection of ourselves. Because of that, we spend a significant amount of time finding that perfect mix of quirky yet intelligent posts for our blogs, captions, or memes. Brands should be no different. Scratch that, smart brands should be no different. All too often, brands are consumed with the need for aligning with the latest trends, when in reality, that means they are only relating to a portion of their intended audience. There is no perfect algorithm for creating content that sticks, but there are a few key do’s and don’ts that can help weed out the unnecessary and get your brand noticed…by those who actually want to see it.
Do: Differentiate yourself
78% of CMOs say that custom content is the future of marketing and over 52% of marketers say the ability to target and personalize content is fundamental to their online strategy. So, it is no surprise that advertisers are gravitating towards the story-telling approach, and fast. It’s not only smart but it is necessary and what’s absolutely crucial is differentiating yourself within the endless sea of branded content.
Always asks yourself, ‘will they actually care?’ or ‘would they share it with friends?’ With over 27 million pieces of content being shared each day, there is no question that the competition is stiff. Everyone can create content but truly reaching, engaging, and connecting with a user on a personal level is the secret to creating content that will resonate. Pinpoint your biggest differentiator and find your brand personality in the process. Don’t try to be among the popular crowd, rather create your own recognizable voice and let those who it resonates with come to you.
Do: Speak their language
People turn to the internet to be informed and entertained. While creating your own voice is the priority, you don’t want to lose sight of who you’re speaking to. Get on their level and give them content they would likely find themselves when browsing the internet. Reach them in the environments they are seeking out and hit them with a contextually relevant message that speaks to them and their interests.
Do: Create content that resonates
Let’s face it, as a brand, your competition is pretty much everyone. Any brand with a message to share is out there sharing it. You can’t take your current strategy, mold it a different way, and then expect it to go viral. You need to find what it is about your brand that is valuable to the consumerand let the creativity run wild. Simply, find its best feature and emphasize it. Sometimes that requires stepping out of the comfort zone, but a little something out of the ordinary or going for that shock value will pique the audience’s attention and keep them coming back – now that’s something you can’t put a price on.
Don’t: Go for quantity over quality
It’s better to share a few GREAT nuggets and insights than scrape the bottom of the barrel for a long list of mediocre anecdotes. All too often, brands try to keep up with the hottest stories and latest trends. Don’t align with trending content for the sake of aligning with trending content. Trying to fit in with the cool kids rarely gets you a seat at the lunch table. On the contrary, it discredits you as a brand that can think on its own. Feeding too much to a user loses their attention so keep it brief and straight-forward and never lose sight of that end goal. Find your niche and stick to it so that you identify with those who matter most to your brand.
Don’t: Get greedy
Let me set the scene. You’re sitting on a conference call with multiple parties trying to align to a campaign strategy. Before you know it the call ends where everyone agrees they are on the same page. And yet you walk away with the key objective(s) being awareness, engagement, purchase intent, and everyone’s favorite…conversions. Wanting every KPI under the sun is something we all deny, and yet they are the foundation of so many of our campaigns. While of course that is the ideal, it isn’t realistic. When it comes to content, focus first on one main strategy and do it well. Then, when you see how your audience reacts, you’ll know what else you can add to your strategy.
Don’t: Sell. Period.
Good content often involves a brand removing itself from the conversation altogether. This may be hard to imagine and you’re probably asking yourself, ‘why create all this great content and not get all the credit for it?!’ Two very important reasons. First, you position yourself as a thought leader, a brand who just ‘gets it’ and can be a trusted source of knowledge. Second, you bring value to the consumer and, in turn, they will invest their time with you. You have an opportunity to bring something to the table that other brands cannot. By removing a blatant ‘sell’, you end up building rapport with your consumer which will leave them coming back for more.
Now for the Holy Grail. While there isn’t one right formula, there are some ingredients that simply must go together. Provide users with content they want, in spaces they expect to see it. Offer knowledge or stimulating entertainment at a time when they are most open to your brand message. Giving your audience content that is relevant to what they are already seeking out on their own will only enhance their experience and make you a more relatable brand. Once you marry content with contextual relevancy, you’ve mastered the craft.