Consumers now expect brands to be where they are, when they are, in the format they expect, and on the device they are using at the time. As a result, information is simultaneously found, shared, read, seen, heard and watched as awareness is being generated and decisions are being formed.
Traditional media is being disrupted and becoming more digital. At the same time, content marketing, search and social are being elevated into more integral parts of holistic digital marketing campaigns.
As traditional media and content marketing converge, there lies the perfect storm for brands to become publishers and storytellers across all channels and platforms.
Through owned, earned and paid media, brands now have an unprecedented opportunity to connect with their audience and transform into media companies.
Digital mediums such as YouTube are evolving much faster than traditional TV. Brands are using these digital mediums to connect with their audience in a more personalized way – just as consumers now expect.
Take this video from Coke for example.
The comments are all generally positive, such as:
"Well done guys, the idea with bottles and glasses is great. Could be good ad for coke :)”
"I usually skip all the publicity on this site, but this time was different, I give it a chance and it amazed me. I hope Coca Cola give you guys a big $ for this, because this is golden.”
It’s a world where people actually want to consume and share branded content.
Content Marketing to Become Content Brands
There are three areas of focus needed to help brands become media companies: strategy, publishing and amplification.
Entire books have been written about strategy so of course we can’t cover it all here. One important rule we follow is to never create strategy in a vacuum.
It’s vital to fuse your market research, SEO, content, publishing and amplification strategies into one. If you do SEO without publishing you end up link building instead of link earning. If you do amplification without market research you end up potentially promoting to the wrong audience in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The following items must be considered when developing an effective content strategy:
- Voice and tone
- Style guidelines and branding
- Personas – audience demographics and psychographics
- Organic search
- Trust signals
- Content plan – channel integration
- Social and community
- Brand sentiment
- Customer loyalty
A proper content marketing strategy that incorporates market research, SEO, brand publishing, and amplification will drive leads while improving search and social as channels.
2. Brand Publishing
In order for brands to connect with their consumers across fragmented digital mediums, they have to become storytellers. To effectively become a brand publisher they need processes, talent, technology and great content.
The significance of the content producer is most evident in Google and Twitter. Google updated its Agent Rank algorithm in 2011, and launched Google+, which they’ve defined as their social network, and identity service. Google’s algorithm is now asking “who” is creating the content and how influential is that producer within his or her niche. In mid-2012 Google began displaying rich snippets including the author’s name and picture in search results for more than 20 percent of all keyword searches. This illustrates Google’s use of authorship as a strong trust signal and one that should, and will, become more prominent.
Based on this understanding, we’ve developed a first-of-its-kind content technology platform called ClearVoice. ClearVoice is designed to help brands find talent to produce great content. The system is currently being used internally for our clients and will launch in beta to the public in June.
How we created ClearVoice:
- We essentially databased any quality site with a level of significant traffic.
- We then located the authors per each piece of content.
- We then used natural language processing to categorize the content.
- We then created an algorithm to score the authors based on the strength of the sites they write for, how often, and how the content performs socially.
(It wasn’t easy.)
The 10 reasons why we developed the platform:
- Brands can see, in real time, which authors produce content, on which sites, about which topics, and how well that content performs socially.
- Brands can see a transparent history of the content and sites where the author recently contributed.
- Brands can find and contact anyone from premium influencers down to very niche writers.
- Brands can optimize Google Authorship for rich snippets, higher trust, higher click-throughs, and higher conversions.
- Brands can leverage the author’s expertise to develop great content for the brand.
- Brands can tap into the author’s social influence and following.
- Brands can elastically hire talent to plan their editorial calendar on a continuous basis.
- Brands can develop any kind of media including long form, short form, white papers, case studies, evergreen, promotional, infographics, SlideShare, interviews, and soon, video.
- Brands can easily find, recruit, retain, and pay creative experts in one location.
- Brands can incorporate the writing team into any workflow management system using our simple APIs.
3. Content Amplification
The industry has exploded with incredible companies and platforms to help brands amplify their content. We’ve partnered with many, if not most, of the companies in the content discovery space and native advertising so that we can help brands get in front of the right audience at the right time. Content amplification makes all content, search, and social efforts more productive, leading to increased visibility, engagement, and revenue. Content amplification is conducted through earned media/digital PR and paid media.
Earned Media/Digital PR
Earned media relates to all marketing and PR that benefits a brand’s visibility without the cost of advertising. Earned media occurs naturally, but can be amplified further through targeted content placement and influencer outreach.
- Content Placement – Integrate brand citations and links within relevant stories published on targeted third party publications.
- Influencer Outreach – Promote corporate product content and publication content to reputable influencers within the industry or related verticals and design custom engagement plans for promotion.
Paid media represents all forms of digital advertising and is effective at reaching an audience that may be otherwise unreachable.
- Paid Search – Access your search audience where you are lacking visibility in organic rankings. Information gathered from Paid Search can fuel current and future strategies. With keywords mapped properly to customer need and intent, ad copy can be hyper-targeted to satisfy customer needs, and landing page optimization can further improve conversions.
- Paid Social – Expose brand messaging and publication content to an ultra- targeted audience. Paid social is excellent at driving awareness on a new product or brand asset.
- Native Advertising – Drive publication content impressions through category relevant publishing outlets to increase readership, social fans, and brand advocates.
- Display & Retargeting – Remind consumers of the brand through calculated display retargeting. This tactic becomes more impactful with brand publishing as users can be influenced from awareness to interest, desire and action.
Similar to traditional public relations, the intent of amplification is to get your strategic and coordinated brand message in front of your audience and consumer at the right time and in the right place. When executed properly, amplification and continuous, yet appropriate, stimulation of your audience and customers will lead them through the purchase funnel.
Through effective strategy, publishing, and amplification brands can become media companies for prospects, partners and clients.