Branded content is basically just content published by a brand that is not traditional advertising. It can come in many formats: video, illustrations, infographics, blog posts, podcasts, live events or webinars, to name a few. What is different about branded content is that it is a content approach that it does not rely on a purely commercial message, such as one might find in classic advertising like ad banners online or a tv spot. Branded Content is intended to raise brand awareness through content that entertains, delights, educates or brings something of utility to users, something beyond a message purely focused on sales. At the same time, good branded content helps users to associate your brand with a series of values or a desired emotion, feeling or general idea that benefits your company.
Many well-known brands have reaped success and increased awareness through their branded content strategies— think HubSpot with their newsletters and articles that have served to consolidate their reputation as a leader in the digital marketing sector, or cosmetic brand Fenty Beauty with its makeup tutorials that emphasise modern beauty that encompasses and celebrates all skin tones.
For small outfits with limited budgets and resources, it is worth taking some time to consider the following factors before you throw your time and resources behind a branded content initiative:
The focus must be on the user. Before you create a branded content plan, ensure that your approach has the user front and centre, rather than your brand. Branded content has the effect of creating twice as much brand recognition as traditional display ads. However, your company will only be able to take advantage of this increased awareness if your branded content has the interests and needs of users at its core.
Topics and themes should have some relation to your brand. Branded content parks sales discourse in favour of an approach focused on practical, useful or entertaining material for users. It’s important to select themes that are aligned with your brand values and spirit or that figure within your areas of competency. For example, a chain of hardware stores would likely increase their brand recognition and awareness with a series of videos, social posts or blog posts that explain how to perform a variety of DIY household repairs and projects. Using internal experts and tools, the company can garner more exposure for its brand by offering users content that is very useful. For other sectors, entertaining or emotion-evoking content may be more desirable. A regional beer producer might align itself with its home geography through a series of content pieces focused on the area and emphasising local pride by featuring artists, historians or other local figures of note. In this case, the branded content strategy may not rely on beer experts, but rather the common thread is the people, places and happenings that make this particular location (and by extension the beer) unique.
Do not be afraid to promote your content. If you only publish your content on your blog, it is doubtful that a large portion of your target audience will see it. The best way to increase the visibility of your branded content is to distribute it across multiple channels: publish it in social media, on your website, in YouTube, wherever it makes sense. If you are dealing with a very specific topic, or you are sharing content that is especially entertaining or useful, it is likely that you will naturally see an increase in your organic traffic, thanks to this quality content. However, social media and video posts will need to be sponsored in order to impact potential clients and increase awareness. The good news is that you can choose many ad targeting options on these networks, allowing you to hone in on those exact users and viewers who are the most likely to be positively impacted by and engage with your content.
Measurement is crucial. If you begin to publish branded content, it’s helpful to study which content is working best and where it works best. For example, if a weight-loss mobile app has a fitness podcast with few downloads or listens, then they might want to consider focusing on videos covering specific exercises for different areas of the body, and compare the results. It is important to evaluate which channels generate the most views, downloads, site visits or interactions, as these will be the channels that are most efficient for raising your brand awareness in the long-term. In addition, within a single channel (Facebook, your blog, etc.), you can use a variety of tools to monitor your own channels, you can tag your publications that are branded content and then evaluate and compare their results. Determine which content pieces and topics produce the most likes, shares, clicks, views or other measurable interactions.
Branded content can bring a great deal of positive visibility and perception to your business. If you want to create a branded content strategy in line with your objectives and brand, don’t hesitate to contact the content experts at All Around.
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