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Content marketing sometimes gets a bad rap. Does your audience really need more content pushed at them? Do they even want it? What if you spend the marketing budget on content and it doesn’t work.
These are honest concerns. The truth is not all content is created equal and unfortunately there’s a bit too much content out there that doesn’t serve the needs of a brand’s audience and that doesn’t provide any new value.
However, content done right can do wonders for your business — grabbing your customer’s attention, providing feedback, building a community of superfans, and enhancing the customer’s experience of your products and services.
In this post, we take a look at ten diverse companies that are doing content marketing right.
HelloDenizen – Proof-of-Concept (B2B)
One of the most effective ways to win the attention of potential customers is to show them you can deliver. When the Denizen Agency launched a new content creation division, they needed something that would get the attention of would-be corporate customers. The team created a proof-of-concept content marketing campaign for the new division, meant to show off just how much engagement they could win for their business clients. What they created was arguably one of the most watched and most talked about videos of the year.
“Tiny Hamsters Eating Tiny Burritos” racked up several million YouTube views in a matter of days and went on to earn them a total of 10 million channel views, 500,000 Facebook likes, and mentions from the likes of Fast Company, the LA Times, and John Oliver’s show Last Week Tonight. The company were able to parlay that success into subsequent Tiny Hamster series videos that featured Reynold’s Wrap, Pepsi, Clorox, and Simon and Schuster as branded content partners.
GoPro – Proof-of-Concept (B2C)
Proof-of-concept content marketing doesn’t just work for B2B shops. Sometimes, it’s customers that want to see your product in action. GoPro creates small, high-quality video cameras that can capture amazing footage whether on land, sea, or air. It’s only fitting their content marketing shows off that footage.
GoPro’s self-hosted video channel gathers together more than two hundred videos — surfing, skydiving, motorsports, underwater, and more — in highly produced 3- to 20-minute videos. The footage is engaging to watch and shows off the high-quality imagery and camera versatility needed to sell the products.
McDonald’s Canada – Interactive (B2C)
Interactive campaigns can be a good way to connect with an audience and a great way to generate lots of content. Jay Baer has a great write up on Convince and Convert on how investing in an interactive customer-facing campaign is paying dividends for McDonald’s Canada.
The company saw a great deal of chatter about their brand and their product line happening all across the web. For such a big brand, going to the people wasn’t an option — there were simply too many individual questions and conversations to engage. Instead the brand created Our Food, Your Questions, a stand-alone site where customers can ask questions and get answers.
Customers took McDonald’s Canada up on it, asking everything they’ve ever wanted to know. Most answers offer in-depth explanations and some include videos of how the food is made. Jay Baer notes the brand has made information into a sort of spectator sport. Approximately 16,000 questions were asked and 10,000 have been answered, but with an option to get updates on specific questions, Baer reports the site’s questions have received more than three million views.
Page Fights (Unbounce/ConversionXL) Interactive (B2B)
Interactive campaigns don’t just work with consumer customers. With the right idea, the tactic can also work great with B2B audiences. Landing page marketer Unbounce and conversion optimization service provider ConversionXL decided to team up to create a new video series with audience participation.
With the Page Fights project, real businesses submitted their websites for real, hard-hitting critiques from the Unbounce and ConversionXL hosts, as well as web experts like Jay Baer and Rand Fishkin. The show found plenty of sites willing to hear feedback from experts and get a bit of free exposure, generating a dozen episodes that evaluated several dozen sites over the life of the project.
Microsoft Stories – Narrative
Microsoft Stories has to be some of the best branded narratives out there right now. You won’t find sponsored press-release articles or comedic listicles here. These are feature-length, carefully crafted digital media articles. Rather than BuzzFeed, think the Guardian or Wired Magazine.
One of their latest pieces, “UL: Mayhem That Matters,” takes a tour through the world’s foremost product safety testing lab. Readers meet a long-time UL safety director, learn about the facility, and experience the work vicariously through a journalist’s eye. At the tail end of a 3,000-word piece, there’s a passing mention of how Microsoft’s SharePoint platform is being used to facilitate data sharing with UL’s clients.
Another piece, “Independence Day,” weaves together first-person journalism, audio effects, and a photo essay spread to tell the story about Microsoft’s wearable soundscape technology that could help enrich the way the blind experience urban environments. This 5,000-word content marketing piece wasn’t easy to produce. It takes the writer from the sidewalks of Reading, England to Microsoft’s own backyard, Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, Wa.
Pieces like these can take weeks or months to put together, and the cost — especially when international travel and reporting is involved — isn’t cheap. Still, the result is must-read content marketing pieces that can be shared widely and even picked up by news organizations.
Red Bull – Media/Sponsorship
Energy drink company Red Bull has a longstanding relationship with live events promotion and sponsorship, but as more and more marketing happens online, the brand has adapted and thrived.
The brand’s Red Bull TV channel features video from motorcross events, bike races, surfing competitions, and concert performances — such as a whole series of performances from this summer’s Lollapalooza festival. The content isn’t always just a recap of a race day. Pieces like “Ground Control” give viewers a glimpse of participant’s preparation, interviews about their motivation for racing, and their performance on race day.
Another tactic in use on the brand’s main site: feature articles. “The Iron Cowboy,” profiles a triathlete that finished 50 Ironman competitions in 50 days. Similar to the video piece, readers get a behind-the-scenes look at the athlete’s motivation, preparation, and performance in competition.
Electric Literature – Niche/Nonprofit
Not every company can sponsor extreme sports, or create hours of branded video content. For some businesses those things just don’t apply. However, that doesn’t mean niche businesses can’t make excellent use of content marketing.
Electric Literature started life out as a nonprofit literary journal in 2009. The brand started a “Recommended Reading” blog on Tumblr and began investing in social and content creation outside its primary literary pursuits. Fast-forward six years and the journal has since pivoted to a nonprofit literary advocacy organization. And a popular one at that.
According to the Washington Post, the “Recommended Reading” blog gets nearly a quarter-million hits per month and the brand has 174,000 followers on Twitter. Content efforts now include reviews, interviews, infographics, and even mixtape playlists picked by published authors. The brand is arguably one of the biggest in its niche and it did it all online with a blog and great content in only a few years.
Chubbies Shorts – Lifestyle/Community (User-Created Content)
Fashion brands are tapping into the social media space more so than many other businesses. There’s a chance to spark and build a direct connection with fans, not to mention getting that fanbase to do some of the content marketing work for you.
Chubbies Shorts has been one of the most surprising fashion brands to open shop and win over social media channels. The brand has sizable audiences on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and even Snapchat, maintained by a full-time team of three.
Content efforts focus on cultivating a relationship with a young adult male demographic that enjoy hanging out with friends and making the most of the weekend. It’s a carefully chosen plan — the company’s founder and head of marketing recently told Adweek the brand wants to align itself with the weekend the way companies like Red Bull have build connections to extreme sports.
Adidas – Microblogging
Tumblr is a unique platform and not all brands know what to do with the part microblog, part online community, part social media platform. Brands that are successful post a variety of content that a) arrests Tumblr users’ attention as they scroll through an endlessly refreshing feed of content and b) gets heavily reposted, commented on, and shared by those users with their own followers.
The Adidas Originals Tumblr knows its audience on this platform and gives them everything they want. First, there’s a wide variety of fashion feature photography that’d be right at home in a top magazine. But Adidas also gives viewers custom street-art style graphics, GIFs, celebrities, and custom video content pieces. One of the channel’s latest is an interactive multiplatform campaign where superstar Pharrell Williams asks fans to share their own #OriginalSuperstar story.
Airbnb – Product-Related Information
Sometimes, you don’t need to write blogs, produce podcasts, or direct your own videos to end up with great content. Some companies have products that you could write about endlessly. Airbnb is one such business. Its product is arguably not just the apartments, flats, and vacation homes for rent on the Airbnb website, the company is also selling a whole vacation experience. With a million plus listings in 34,000 cities, this company has plenty of raw material with which to create great content.
A recent innovation for Airbnb has included entire neighborhood guides, helping to demystify travel to big cities like LA or Paris. Guides give web surfers a taste of the local culture, info on places to eat, tourist spots to hit, and more. Airbnb didn’t have to do this alone. The company used feature photography from local photographers and invites feedback to improve their neighborhood info for potential visitors.
As you can see, you can take your content marketing a lot of directions — highly produced videos, microblogging, live video, feature writing. The key is just to connect with your audience and to provide something valuable with your content.
In short, there are more ways to do content marketing right than to do it wrong. All it takes is some planning, the great idea, and the effort to make it happen.
Ready to learn how Kaleidico can help you with your content marketing? Contact us today to get started!