It’s well known by now that self-centered and self-serving marketing tactics are long past their expiration date. Their replacement: tactics that entertain, enlighten and embolden consumers.
Take one look at any good Facebook feed, and you’ll see the three-E’s mentioned above in action. But even Facebook has begun cracking down on branded posts that resemble little more than a hard-selling digital ad. That’s bad news for uninspired digital marketers (you know who you are) but good news for those who still value creativity and storytelling.
Nowhere is the value of that creativity more important for marketers than content marketing. Yes, even in an era of 140-character tweets and now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t Snapchats, consumers still want stories. They want to be engaged by brands for more than 3.5 seconds. They want to read about brands they love and read about the issues that are important to those brands. In short, consumers want content.
Content marketing and the content hubs at the center of it can take many forms. Some hubs are robust, multi-media brand websites teeming with stories and videos. Others are blogs, like Turkey Hill Dairy’s Ice Cream Journal.
quench and Turkey Hill created the Ice Cream Journal in 2006, back when it was the only ice cream blog on the Internet. Eight years and more than 100,000 comments later (it averages 80 comments per entry), the blog is an award-winning testament to the power of good content marketing.
So, how did the Ice Cream Journal earn its spot in the pantheon of branded content hubs? By following a few simple content marketing rules:
1. IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU – You can’t own a good content hub without being willing to talk about something other than your own brand. (Example: Cascadian Farms’ Bee Friendlier content hub)
2. IT'S ALL ABOUT VALUES – The products your brand creates run a distant second to what consumers really care about: why you create them. If you want to foster an emotional connection with consumers, tell stories that reveal your company’s values. Just make sure that the values you’re talking about are ones that your brand actually embodies on a daily basis. (Example: Dove’s emotional storytelling)
3. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS, NOT SALES – Building relationships — not selling products — is what content marketing is all about. But don’t worry: after those relationships are built, nurtured and strengthened, sales will likely follow. (Example: Dunkin Donuts acknowledging a “Fan of the Week” on Facebook)
4. LET GO – Before social media, brands were used to controlling almost every aspect of their public persona. Today, that’s no longer possible…and that’s not always a bad thing. A good content hub will get people talking, and it’s up to you to monitor those conversations and integrate the best ones into your (hopefully) now-thriving content marketing program. (See Greg's “Crowdsourcing” post for more on how to tap into consumer conversations.) (Example: Clif Bar inspiring conversations at MeetTheMoment.com)
Those, of course, are just four rules. There are many others you might want to at least try to follow as you expand your brand’s content-marketing horizons. And don’t forget about how content marketing is at the heart of any good SEO campaign. A good content marketing campaign can give your brand an edge over competitors and dramatically increase your site’s presence in organic search results.
If you do wander down the content marketing path, don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or the quench team if you need a little help finding your way around.