Content Marketing: Creative Ways to Connect With Your Audience

Content marketing is when brands share useful information with their audience rather than pushing messages about their products and services. It shifts the focus of communication away from brands talking about themselves towards talking about things that interest an audience. While content marketing can take the form of printed magazines, blog posts, downloadable guides or online videos, social media is the perfect platform, and it has fueled the boom in content marketing over the last decade.

Sharing links on social channels is a form of content marketing, but to really succeed, brands need to produce their own content. The idea is to give the audience the information they are interested in. This keeps them coming back for more, helps to build trust and authority, attracts higher quality customers, builds more authentic relationships and increases the likelihood that they will choose your products over your competitors’.

Don’t Mention the Product

Red Bull is the perfect example of content marketing. Its social media channels never actually mention the product, although everything they do is geared towards selling more energy drinks. Red Bull’s content marketing exclusively features extreme sports. They completely own this sector, producing endless hours of video content every single day. The have close to 50m followers on Facebook and get hundreds of thousands of interactions on every single post. Red Bull has its own global TV channel, which is free to watch on their website. Their video content ranges from feature-length documentaries to short clips of stunts, funny videos and competition wins from their army of sports stars and influencers.

A recent post from Red Bull, showing Spanish female Olympic snowboarder Queralt Castellat on a morning powder run:

Be Authentic

The best content marketing is truly authentic, and Red Bull’s interest in extreme sports couldn’t be more genuine. They aren’t just jumping on a trend to seem young and cool, they actually discover, sponsor and encourage new sporting talent. They host events and bring extreme sports to the fans. Both athletes and fans know that the sports they love would not be the same if Red Bull didn’t exist – even for those that don’t drink Red Bull. This goes beyond superficially linking an energy drink to extreme sports. Red Bull is extreme sports.

Of course, not every brand has a budget that makes this level of content marketing possible, but every single company can benefit from content marketing – you just need to be creative with what you’ve got. It’s important to take something that’s part of your brand, something that allows you to create regular content that isn’t forced, and then develop that information into something creative and valuable to your audience.

Shutterstock, one of the leading royalty-free stock image, video and music sites achieved this with their yearly creative trends content. It began life as an infographic, but this year they have produced an interactive page on their website, with music and animation.

So far Creative Trends 2019 has been shared more than 10,000 times across social channels:

It has also been mentioned in countless blog posts and news articles. Shutterstock has taken something unique to their brand – data on the popularity of various kinds of stock media – and developed it into a highly creative, educational and useful piece of regular content. It’s something that their core audience of designers and creatives will look out for each year, share with their peers and use it for inspiration throughout the year. It also passively drives user sign ups and downloads, without ever actively pushing the benefits of the Shutterstock website. Their 2017 infographic generated an amazing 6 billion unique site visits!

Go Behind the Scenes

National Geographic is probably social media’s biggest content marketing success story. It is the world’s top brand on social media with over 350 million followers globally across all platforms and Instagram’s biggest brand with 99 million followers.

National Geographic has always been known for quality photography and journalism, but their approach on Instagram was a genuine game changer. At the time in 2013, the received wisdom was that Instagram captions had to be short – a sentence at the most. NatGeo could have easily relied on the power of their photography and built a good following this way, but instead they began posting long-form written captions about how an image was captured or told the story behind the people or animals in the shot. They also gave full editorial control to the photographers and reporters themselves, allowing them to post from the field.

This means that the story is not an edited version of what appears in the National Geographic magazine, but a true glimpse behind the scenes, or photos and stories that were omitted from print articles or documentaries. The kind of information that isn’t available anywhere else, information that Instagram’s core original users – photography lovers – can’t get enough of. This was so easy for NatGeo to do and by relying on experts already at their disposal the costs are minimized. Also, it’s incredibly hard for anyone else to imitate this strategy and achieve the same level of quality.

Become Thought Leaders

For B2B marketing, thought-leadership articles are a powerful form of content marketing. Every company has experts of some kind, and LinkedIn is where think-pieces can turn that knowledge into new business leads. Insurance giant AIG had a problem with a poor reputation among the c-suite executives that they pitch their products to, so they devised a content marketing strategy that would help change this opinion. They wanted to position AIG as thought leaders on a wide range of business topics.

AIG was one of the first brands to use sponsored content on LinkedIn. They produced bite-size content in the form of infographics and headline statements that then linked to long-form content on AIG’s purpose built content platform.

AIG also shares posts that link to articles on the LinkedIn platform written by their own employees.

The campaign brought in 270,000 new followers over six months and regularly reached the number one ranking for sponsored content on LinkedIn, helping to transform the company’s reputation and boost new business.

Measure Success

How do you know whether your content marketing is successful? Well, the idea of content marketing is still to increase sales, just like any other form of marketing, but content marketing can be a slower process. Results on the bottom line may not necessarily be instant, so to track success you need to look at KPIs that will let you know if your content is reaching the right people and whether they are sharing it and interacting with it. If you can consistently build on these numbers, then you know your content marketing efforts are moving in the right direction.

Using the Sether platform, you can easily monitor reach and engagement for your content marking efforts across multiple social media platforms - all in one place. If you choose to promote your content on social channels, you can monitor spend and effectiveness across social platforms and easily make decisions about where to shift your budget to be more effective.

Sether’s keyword monitoring tools are handy for identifying content trends, while our sentiment analysis tool will help you to decide which topics will resonate best with your audience. Sether is also great for reading comments on your posts on all platforms and posting responses all from the same interface.

Sign up for a free Sether account now and start monitoring your content marketing efforts.

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