Why taking the brand out of branded content works

With too much brand, you end up creating an ad. And your content ends up losing credibility.

A problem that seems easier said than resolved many might say.

Marketing, as we know it, has mostly focused on making sure selling is part of the message. And some marketers make sure it is sometimes a little too obvious.

In the content marketing field, this can often end up having the opposite effect. Seem like the brand is begging.

Creating independent content is key. But how to do it? How does a brand create content that is independent yet able to create a positive spin on the brand?

In today’s article, Carlijn Postma, looks at how the media industry does it, and does it well:

The media produces content the public wants: Content that gets read, viewed, or listened to. Content that’s not simply pushed into the faces of its target group but, rather, where the target group has made a conscious choice to engage in the content.

Once again, easier said than done for brands.

This is where brand journalism comes in. It means taking a different approach at communicating your brand’s values and core beliefs. Without overselling, without putting your logo and brand name on every frame or page.

Independent content transcends all egos and puts the audience in pole position, answering key questions like, “What is relevant, interesting, and entertaining for my audience?” and “What content can we offer to help them?”

In her article, Postma also shares some tips on how to create better independent content, how to find brand journalists, how to view your audience in light of creating powerful and effective branded content assets.

Measuring content success: insecurity

“Ultimately, we need to be able to prove it, and that’s never been more true than it is today— especially in content marketing.”

We all believe in content. We should. Its power, its ability to create a connection with its audience. Its capability to go beyond the 30-second pitch and really engage with an individual.

But how to prove it? What to measure?

So many questions… and so much insecurity.

And those are the questions William Quinn asks himself on a daily basis as Editor-in-chief of Nielsen.com.

In a recent LinkedIn post he wrote, he opened the books on how he feels about it all. Knowing a company pays good money for content creation, but knowing it will be hard to really link it to any direct for of revenue.

“Is an article that gets 5,000 views more successful than one that’s only viewed 200 times? At face value, it may be. But the truth is, the numbers aren’t writing any checks.”

In a way, more views/shares/clicks are better. It should raise brand awareness, brand value. But can we really put a dollar figure on this? Building a true ROI?

Not for now at least.

Of course, we are turning to newer ways to measure success in content. Leaving pageviews in favor of time-on-page, time-spent-with-content. There are dozens of articles coming out every month on the subject of measurement and the research is also coming along very well.

Content is a different beast. And we love it.

Read more about Quinn’s thoughts on content success measurement.

How to better measure your content marketing efforts

You must establish your metrics in light of your content marketing objectives.

When you are putting a content marketing strategy in place, one important step in the process remains the planning of the different activities you’ll be embarking on. You are asking yourself this question in light of the objectives you are establishing with this content:

  • Help and educate;
  • Create a community;
  • Demonstrate your expertise;
  • Help search engines help you;
  • Stay in content with your clients.

These objectives you are setting yourself (which these 5 are examples of) will guide you in the content production phase, but how will you know if this content will be helping you?

What can we measure? And most important, how?

The article I am recommending this week, published over at The Drum, presents a series of elements that can be measured, grouped in 3 large themes:

  • Awareness;
  • Consideration;
  • Conversion.

For example, if you want to measure awareness of your brand, you can measure the rise in new visitors to your website, your search engine ranking, etc. As for consideration, you can measure the duration of website visits, the number of pageviews, various social metrics, etc. Then, to measure conversions, you can watch variations in sales between subscribers and non-subscribers to your content, downloads, etc.

These are the metrics we are used to when evaluating digital properties, but coupled with specific content objectives, they help you focus on discovering what works and what doesn’t, so you can adjust quickly (because you planned to be agile in your initial strategy didn’t you?).

The Drum’s article presents this in the form of a very nice infographic on basic content metrics. Of course, remembers, these metrics won’t serve at all if you don’t match them in light of specific objectives (the initial reason you are diving into content production)!

I’ll let you take a couple minutes to have a look at it, and see if it inspires you to better measure your content efforts…

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(source : The Drum)

How to get people to pay for content

Successfully implementing a paid platform requires a smart business model, not a moral crusade.

For some time now, the general public has gotten used to getting content for free on the internet. They’ll buy a book, a newspaper, a video game in real life, but on the web, something happened many years ago. An error they did and are now trying to correct.

But how do you get people to start paying for content they’ve been getting for free? And how can you break the a golden rule in media: Marketers will pay more for consumers than consumers will pay for content?

In this week’s article, I want to direct you to a text by Greg Satell who does the analysis of what gives value to content. And what can give it enough value so that someone would pay for it.

He outlines three value-making aspects of content:

  • Carving Out A Niche: If you appeal to a small, devoted following—especially if their interest is professional—you can usually get people to pay for access.
  • Developing A Truly Unique Offering: HBO developed a great paid model by delivering content that nobody else had.
  • Filling An Immediate Need: People will pay for convenience, especially if time is an issue.

Now those are not the only ways to create value around content, but they are good examples.

Building a profitable business model and monetizing content is not easy. But we are seeing successful endeavours that we can base new ventures on.

Take some time today to read Satell’s article. He shows there is hope and that we, as content producers and distributors, will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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Good branded content: 3 factors, 1 goal

When creating branded content, please make it useful.

Whenever we are pitching projects here at Toast and as most of them are a form of branded content these days (television, web, transmedia), I always make sure we place front and forward how this content will be useful to consumers and audiences.

The quality of the brand integration and the alignment of this brand with the content are key in keeping this usefulness at its best.

Oh, and let me make one point clear: being useful can mean “being informative,” but it can also be “being quality entertainment.”

Useful content is shared. It is talked about, and it creates a positive spin for the brand that was integrated into it.

But remember. As Tom Fishburne puts it in this week’s article: “Consumers can see many forms of «branded content» a mile away, and it’s only a matter of time before they learn to tune it out as readily as other forms of advertising.”

And there is a lot of bad branded content being created at the moment. Fishburne mentions another article (also worth reading if you have the time) that gives the reason for it: it lacks strategy, focus and accountability.

When these three factors are considered and aimed at creating useful content, you then get quality branded content.

Take some time to read Fishburne’s article (he is also the one who draws these great cartoons you see at the top of this email), but I also strongly recommend Joe Pulizzi’s that he mentions and quotes.

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