Think long-term when it comes to using content for maximum benefit
Content marketing is the hot new buzz word. But like ‘social media marketing’ before it, content marketing is not something new, but rather an expansion on principles that have been used for decades to market and advertise products.
The product itself is frequently the subplot in advertising campaigns, where a carefully inserted image or sentence ties the bulk of the content to what it is trying to promote. This is nothing new – just look at the advertising tradition that has grown up around the NFL Superbowl in the US. Brands spend millions of dollars on the much-coveted halftime slots, which viewers regard as bonus entertainment, rather than a distraction, such is their quality.
These commercials – and many others – are successful not because they focus on the specific merits of their products, but because they represent content that is engaging, funny and well-produced. Their brilliance lies in consumer engagement, and here’s the kicker – consumers are happy to engage and advocate for the brand because they feel they are being entertained in return.
The content shift
So why, suddenly, is content marketing the talk of the town if we’ve been using content in this way for years? There are two main reasons.
The first has to do with social media, and the possibilities it holds for viral advertising. In the past, people who liked an ad or a campaign were limited to discussing it with their social groups through word of mouth. The accessibility of video-sharing and social media means that when a consumer comes across good content, they can share and discuss it on multiple platforms. This means the drive to create engaging, sharable content has never been stronger.
The second reason is that content marketing is something far more involved and engaging than a one-off campaign that gets people talking for a few weeks. Holistic content marketing is a commitment from a brand to engage in an ongoing way with its consumers, who are happy to oblige if the content is fresh and interesting.
The shift in marketing over the last decade has been extraordinary. Google’s influence and power, the rise of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and the possibilities provided by Web 2.0 mean we are looking further forward than ever before. The content connections created today can grow and evolve for years to come – meaning that instead of looking at content creation as a campaign, it should be viewed as a long-term strategy.
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