Featured Story: The Bigger Picture of Content Marketing
Content Marketing is by no means a new concept, but it certainly has become a buzz-phrase on the lips of brands, marketers, agencies and even consumers for the last few years. With the widespread adoption of digital and social media and the abundance of content generating tools; brands and marketers now have the means to create interactive and engaging content for consumers. Combine this with the idea of a post-advertising era where the audience is now in charge, and what do you get? Brands ditching traditional in-your-face advertising and adopting content marketing strategies that customers actually want to see.
Content Marketing, You Say?
Let’s take it back a step, what exactly is content marketing? Well, let’s break it up. The content part relates to a brand’s use of content in any medium (be it YouTube videos, blogs, newsletters, games, competitions or events), to attract an audience that interacts and engages with the content. The marketing part comes in when the brand leverages this content and audience, with the ambition of establishing brand trust and advocacy, which will hopefully translate into profitable customer action.
That being said, the great thing about content marketing is that it doesn’t always have to result in leads or sales. By selling a story or an idea instead of a product, brands can create a platform for the audience to interact on their own terms.
As a result, the marketer is now a publisher and the target consumers are now the audience.
Why Is It So Important?
“Content marketing is the only marketing left,” said marketing mogul, Seth Godin, in 2008. Whether or not this is true, here are some of the reasons that I believe to be key to content marketing’s importance.
- Customer Centric: The audience is now in charge, content marketing allows consumers to see what they want to see.
- Relationship Building: Forcing products upon a consumer isn’t the best way to forge a profitable relationship. But by offering the consumer valuable and relevant content, you stand yourself in good stead to develop trust, advocacy and a mutually beneficial relationship.
- Social and Digital: With our lives revolving around social networks and digital platforms, the power of online sharing and the reach of our combined social graphs makes for an easy dissemination of content.
- Mixed Media: Content marketing does not limit itself to any platform or media, great content is created in new weird and wonderful ways on an ongoing basis.
- Breaking Through The Clutter: An increased volume of content and decreasing attention span means that only great content will be seen or remembered.
- Targeting: Unlike many traditional media forms, online content can be customized based on segment, buying behaviour and audience preference.
- ROI: Content marketing can cost a fraction of traditional media, and can leave a footprint for years to come if it’s great or memorable. Thus, the investment remains relevant for longer and may lead to additional earned media from third party publishers and customers who share your content.
- SEO: When conducting an online search, users would rather see valuable and relevant content related to their search, rather than a site that used every SEO and meta-tag trick in the book. Search engines are starting to pick up on this too, and we may start to see a change in the way websites are ranked based on great content. Mashable covers this in greater detail here.
Who’s Getting It Right?
Examples of content marketing date as far back as 1891, where Dr August Oetker’s German baking powder brand, “Backin,” added popular cooking recipes to the packaging of their baking soda. This lead to the publication of a cookbook and proved to be a successful content marketing tool. This is one of the factors that lead to the Dr Oetker brand still standing to this day.
More recently, brands like Coca-Cola, Dove, Red Bull and GoPro, among others, have taken the content marketing world by storm, producing some of the most interesting and entertaining content. Below are some great examples.
Coca-Cola: In 2010, Coca-Cola launched a campaign focused on the theme of happiness, called Expedition 206. This content experiment gave a group of 3 adventure-seekers the chance to travel the world to the 206 countries where Coca-Cola is sold, with the goal of finding out what makes people around the world happy. The responses were well documented and shared across a variety of digital platforms, racking up over 650 million media impressions in 2010 alone. The result was a beautiful piece of content that united users from around the world.
Dove: In 2013, Dove extended their “real beauty” campaign, aiming to re-define the notion of beauty and suggest that we are more beautiful than we may think. The “real beauty sketches” video below, developed by Ogilvy & Mather Brazil, shows an artist who sketches the portrait of a woman based on the characteristics described by herself. Next, he re-sketches the woman based on characteristics described by a stranger who just met the same woman. The second sketch turns out to be a lot more beautiful than the first, suggesting that others see beauty in others. With more than 114 million views, it became the most viral branded campaign video of all time.
Red Bull: The publishing giant who happens to sell an energy drink. Red Bull has been cited by content marketing professionals and agencies around the world as a benchmark for great content marketing. Their use of mixed media and engaging content has seen interaction from millions of consumers from all continents around the world. From a feature film, online video content and a global monthly magazine to a record label, music academy, sporting events, and even a world record attempt – Red Bull sure knows how to utilize great content. Below is one of many examples, the epic “athlete machine” called Kluge.
GoPro: One of the kings of user generated content, the action packed mini camera company, GoPro, shares great stories and videos. The trick? These stories and videos come from their own customers, who readily submit hours upon hours of footage for the opportunity to be featured in one of GoPro’s viral online videos. Below is last year’s captivating video for the GoPro Hero 3.
Where Does South Africa Fit In?
South Africa is no exception to content marketing. Here are some of the key content marketing factors to take into account in our Rainbow Nation.
- We Are Storytellers: The traditional story-telling nature of Africans is closely intertwined to the idea of content marketing, and is something that marketers should embrace.
- Diversity Targeting: The diversity of South African consumers offers marketers an opportunity to customize content to add relevance and value for selected segments.
- SA Passion: South Africans are passionate and excited. Find content that the country can get behind and support, and you may just start a movement of sorts. The 2010 FIFA World Cup is a case in point.
- Local Is Lekker: Keep your content relevant and local, South Africans love South African content.
- Mobile Penetration: Content marketing can be made accessible to a variety of different hardware forms, no matter how advanced or basic. With SA’s growing mobile penetration, content ranging from advanced smartphone apps to basic USSD mobile competitions can be utilized.
To close off, here is a great South African piece of content that embraces the idea of storytelling. In January this year, Bells Whiskey launched a video called The Reader that expresses what it means to be a true South African man of character. Although it was launched as a TV commercial, it is still a great piece of content that generated a huge buzz online and was shared throughout the country. The YouTube clip below has already received more than 2 million views. If you haven’t seen it before, prepare yourself for something truly heartwarming.