Brands have become earned media owners but without necessarily having the required publishing skill-sets. They’ve been seduced by statistics that tell us 3bn people are now watching daily video content on Facebook and that native advertising is the new user generated content. The result is an increase in noise, with some brands falling at the first two fences of creativity and distribution whilst others ride on, growing advocacy as their content is shared across devices, amplified and eagerly anticipated.
For younger brands such as Airbnb, who have invested in growing a loyal audience, it’s about distributing trusted editorial to its network in order to retain and build loyalty.
Airbnb’s free travel quarterly magazine, Pineapple has articles which are helpful, useful and reassure readers that the worldwide adoption of renting unique accommodation from local hosts prevails. It’s about maintaining brand in a new market that requires trust-building.
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For more established brands such as Red Bull and university admissions body UCAS, good content marketing builds on the trust that already exists and rewards people with content that’s cherished rather than tolerated, shared rather than discarded and so useful, that despite it being free content, it is of a quality that people would pay for.
In the case of UCAS, the brand began life as a form that applicants had to fill in to apply for university places. From there, it evolved into an online gateway and now it has developed into an accidental media owner with accelerated plans for a digital magazine, video service and careers portal.
Students have long put their faith in the UCAS brand to get them to university and now they’re being rewarded with city guides, careers advice, and tips on how to survive the student experience.
Red Bull has been a real trailblazer in the evolution of content marketing. The company’s move into developing content for its key audience of active 18-34 year old males has proved so aggressive that it’s no exaggeration to say they’re now a publishing company which also makes an energy drink and not the other way round.
Read more about content marketing:
- What is content marketing, and should you use it?
- For growing businesses, 2015 will be all about content
- 5 tips on how SMEs can embark on content marketing
One of the keys to their success has been to offer consumers content they will truly enjoy. The US Editor of The Red Bulletin – Red Bull’s monthly magazine with circulation figures in the millions – said in an interview last year, “we cover stories from beyond the world of Red Bull, and increasingly that’s become our mandate, we have shifted away from branded stories and have begun to push the boundaries and explore the exceptional.” Eight million people tuned in to see Red Bull at the peak of their boundary-pushing, watching Felix Baumgartner’s Red Bull Stratos freefall. Of course, reaching people with the relevant, engaging content they desire in this way ultimately contributes to the bottom line.
With over 45m Likes on its Facebook page, Red Bull has already proved its staying power in the digital age and a winning strategy of reaching their target audience with experience-led content. As marketer Ty Montague put it, it’s ‘storydoing’ not just ‘storytelling’. Recent articles on The Red Bulletin include advice on mixing records, pulling off tricks on a BMX and keeping fit through colder months through night running.
Their content success is there for businesses of all sizes to learn from – quality content that is shareable, audience specific and delivered against a professional publishing model will cut through the noise and deliver on marketing KPIs.
Clare Broadbent is CEO at Cedar.
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