The line between brands and publishers is becoming increasingly blurred. Thanks to the rise of social platforms, brands have been acquiring audiences at unprecedented scale. As brands nurture these direct relationships with their customers, one thing has been clear: they need something to say.
Brands that once relied solely on advertising to spread their message are discovering the need for an editorial strategy. They are now leveraging content to develop innovative experiences that capture consumers, build engagement, and increase sales. Meanwhile, traditional publishing outlets with editors and writers are left to question their role in this new world of branded content, product placements, and hybrid properties. Through creative partnerships, the roles of both brands and publishers are being redefined.
While some brands are floundering in this evolving world of media, others are flourishing. By employing cohesive content strategies, brands such as Intel, Mr. Porter, Elle, and Pepsi are leading the “brands-turned-publishers” movement.
As a company focused on reinvigorating the journalism industry by licensing content to brands and publishers, content marketing has become integral to our business plan. NewsCred’s white paper, “Brands as publishers: 15 market leaders that get content right,” dives deeper into the ways content leaders are reinventing marketing strategies.
The first, perhaps most obvious, step to a successful content strategy is to provide useful content. By delivering content that is customized, filtered, and relevant, brands have the opportunity to build trust and loyalty with their audiences. For example, the personal finance tool Mint.com, supplements their services with a personal finance blog. Covering everything from office organization to credit advice, Mint’s editorial content was one of their primary drivers of user acquisition en route to a $250M+ acquisition.
Content can breathe life into a brand and telling a great story will grab people’s attention much better than a sales pitch can. With curated storylines, brands such as iQ by Intel are driving user engagement in unimaginable ways. As a less-than-sexy computer chip company, Intel aimed to “connect with a younger audience” and tell them the bigger story of Intel as a brand, through the individual stories read and shared by employees. The entire iQ by Intel experience engages users by acting as a collective voice for the entire company and telling a story through curated content.
Rather than promoting the company blog and e-commerce separately, brands can use content to integrate both elements. Brands that curate a lifestyle to covet combine culture and commerce to yield an all-encompassing brand. Mr. Porter, an all-men’s offshoot of Net-A-Porter does a great job of curating a luxurious lifestyle. Sales pitches and promotions are layered beneath editorial content in a way that completely immerses the consumer in a lavish lifestyle experience. Most importantly, it leaves them wanting more.
In an age of ever-present social media, brands that make it easy for customers to become advocates through social gestures, recommendations, and personal endorsements have a huge advantage. By facilitating social interactions online, brands build trust and loyalty, and ultimately transform brand advocates into customers. Elle’s shopable trend guide, which provides fashion content on Facebook, is a perfect example. Taking advantage of Facebook’s Open graph, users can go beyond the traditional “Like” button and “Love,” “Want,” “Own” and “Buy” a look. Every small action becomes an automatic brand endorsement and gives people enough confidence to return and make a purchase.
Leading content marketers such as Pepsi are leveraging technology to source, curate and present content in new, immersive experiences. Merging its decades old commitment to entertainment with the newest social and curation technology, Pepsi created Pepsi Pulse, a realtime, multimedia platform showcasing trending news in pop culture now. Using algorithms to surface and add contextual relevance to raw content, Pepsi Pulse is a window into the top entertainment stories each day, reminding audiences that Pepsi and pop culture are synonymous.
As a content marketer, it’s important to remember that your efforts—creating a robust blog, promoting engagement through social media, providing educational tools and resources must all occur in tandem. Building a consistent brand experience across all touch points might mean merging offline and online strategy. As technology continues to evolve and marketing strategies change with it, flexibility will be the key to brand success.
For more content marketing insights, download NewsCred’s full white paper “Brands as Publishers: 15 market leaders that get content right.”