By Eric Berry
Over the past several years, brands have spent millions upon millions of dollars building up their likes on Facebook, their followers on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. The promise of this is increased reach and a direct line of communication with a brand’s followers. This now provides a valuable channel to reach those that genuinely care about a brand (we’ll ignore the questions of dirty likes or paid distribution for now). The question then becomes how best to leverage this channel.
Brands that advertise too overtly and consistently through their social connections risk alienating their audience, while those that fail to sufficiently leverage this channel waste a huge opportunity. Striking a proper balance is essential, and our data shows that customers rarely tolerate direct advertising over about 25% of a brand’s posts. That leaves at least 75% of a brand’s effort to be spent indirectly advertising or otherwise creating engaging content that keeps their brand top of mind. Brands must therefore wholeheartedly embrace the content marketing revolution.
To be content marketing, there must not be a direct pitch or sales call to action. Instead, the consumer must derive some degree of enjoyment or satisfaction from the content. For example, instead of showing “20% off on Nike shoes!”, a brand engaging in content marketing would show an interesting photo of the shoes in action, perhaps mid-dunk, with the logo prominently featured. Naturally, this requires a more finesse in the production of the creative.
Content marketing is not a traditional direct marketing strategy, but rather a top-level branding strategy that can effectively drive sales. Effectively using this medium requires that the brand stay top-of-mind. This requires a relatively steady output of lightweight content marketing, interspersed with more direct advertising calls to action. To avoid paying full agency creative fees for each piece of content, a brand must have knowledge of what works with the customers, what trends are hot, and what’s working for their competitors. Simply put, cost-effective content marketing requires understanding the visual content that works for the brand and how and when to create more.