As the old system of advertising and publicity makes way for new innovative strategies, a new form of brand awareness has found its way into the PR lexicon: content marketing.
To create high-quality content marketing, you don't have to reinvent the wheel; you just have to strategize well.
For decades, companies have tried to separate themselves from the competition by delivering content that would not only delight audiences, but resonate with them. In this social media era, the pursuit for "stickiness" with advertising campaigns is heightened. If a piece of content performs well, you'll know it from all of the social shares and positive comments circulating.
At Shutterstock, we've seen a good deal of success
from our content marketing efforts, rolling out as many new ones
as we can. It's important to pay close attention to the conversation on social media so that you know how it's being received by the masses.
When you have a hit on your hands, nothing can replace the kind of attention and publicity you are afforded; it's a much more authentic way to carry your message than what you'd see from a traditional ad campaign. New audiences will enjoy it a great deal more, too.
For those who are just breaking into the content marketing game and are uncertain where their place is in this growing field of play, getting started may be the toughest hurdle.
Here are five tips that we've discovered over the course of a year experimenting with content marketing and how it can help add to a brand's image and story:
1. Know your audience.
The first rule of content marketing is the same as the first rule of any type of marketing: Talk to your customers. If you work in a more creative space, get creative. If it's more upscale, go in that direction. Stick to what you know and what is expected from you.
When brands dip out of their allotted areas of expertise and try to reinvent themselves as something they're not, things can get a bit off track and confusing. Your content marketing plan should fall well within the company's overall marketing strategy. If it doesn’t, it's misguided and unlikely to pay off.
2. Stay in your wheelhouse.
Lack of resources will be an early obstacle you must overcome. Who is going to build it, and how long will it take? If you have designers or video producers at your disposal, you're already one step ahead of some of the competition, but you'll need to budget both money and time.
If the idea is too grandiose and can't be completed in a reasonable timeframe, you've set your sights too high. Dream large and hope for the best possible outcome, but stay within the boundaries of what your team is capable of and what executives are expecting from you.
3. Pick the right angle.
I cannot stress enough how much time goes into selective and crafting the right approach for a topic. At Shutterstock, we've found that blending together two common, but not associated, ideas works well as art.
For example, HBO's "Game of Thrones" lent itself nicely to a re-imagining as modern-day corporations
. You can't force two things together; they have to be styled. When you gather your team to brainstorm content marketing ideas, focus on how an original take will elevate your brand, not just look really cool. When done well, the final product will achieve both at once.
4. Make it accessible.
Even the most popular TV shows, movies, books, or other pop cultural trends are still only followed or “liked” by a small population of people. You don't want to limit the scope of your content marketing to just the avid fans.
At the same time, you'll want to go into some detail and depth to showcase something worth reading and sharing. That balance is the key to great content.
We found a good example of this to be in our "Mod Men" post
: "Mad Men" fans could appreciate the ways we depicted central characters in the series, yet outsiders could still appreciate the narrative to the Before and After. When possible, find something that everyone can relate to and enjoy.
[RELATED: Learn why you NEED a content marketing plan at our Fall content marketing boot camp.]
5. Think about syndication.
Every person who works in PR or marketing is trying to get his company more press and opportunities from industry big shots. I have long believed that the best way to get on people's radar is to study what they do and then show them some more of it; they'll be happy you did it.
Ahead of creating your slides or your videos, consider your target audience and potential online venues. If it's a technology beat, build your content to be more techy. That way, when you do roll it out and send them a note about it, it'll be an obvious fit for them. With it, you'll get the admiration and name recognition that you seek.
Danny Groner is the manager of blogger partnerships and outreach for Shutterstock.