Write Branded Content or Become a Content Brand? What is Better for Your Business?

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JANUARY 2017

Is it true that since it’s 2017, we should be doing some changes? You know, New Year, New Strategies? Some people like change, while others would like to stick to what works. Remember the phrase: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Well, in the content marketing world, branded content writing has been the norm. It’s a very effective way to engage your audience and attract and probably persuade them into making a purchase. But maybe there should be a shift in the way we treat branded content. Maybe with the New Year also comes new content rules 2017 and content integration. Let’s see if shifting from branded content writing to creating a content brand is the more effective way to go. Maybe then we can say that traditional branded content may not be enough to pull in the purchases.

It’s a cutthroat content marketing world out there. People are spending more time online and watching television. That means they are consuming more content than ever before. But even though they’re into one form of content or another, they only like spending a little time with what they see. Meaning, they read the headline but rarely read the rest of the article. Why? Because while they’re online more hours now, if they see an article that’s not interesting, they will quickly dismiss it. They move on to the next one, faster than they can finish a 15-word headline that does not appeal to him.

 

Why is branded content effective?

To put it bluntly, branded content is like a fusion of advertising and entertainment. It’s a collection of content that readers will find interesting and advertising that readers do not find at all interesting. And since it is a form of advertising, it obviously is a one-way street since there isn’t a lot of audience participation. It was originally created to promote a product. And audiences didn’t want to listen or read an advertisement. They wanted to be hooked and captivated by a gripping story and be entertained.

But the good news is that today’s branded content has gone beyond just advertising. It has actually spread its wings and flew to greater heights. We list here why:

  1. Consumers like seeing what they see

Since branded content is now about storytelling, marketers have realized that consumers like reading stuff that they can actually use or might even be remotely interested in. They’ve discovered people are entertained by an article without noticing they’re being given an actual advertisement – like subliminal advertising.

A very good example of branded content is the LEGO Movie. It is highly entertaining. It tells a gripping but heart-warming story. It was produced by LEGO – and who doesn’t love Lego or didn’t play with Legos in their childhood. It was so successful because the audience was entertained without noticing, LEGO was actually advertising their brand. It tugged at hearts with emotions and wonderful memories.

  1. Branded content can go viral

Brands do not need to rely on their own creativity for their product to go viral. Another way to appeal to users is to make them help with the branded content. You’re not only creating engagement here, you’re also making the audience write in the content.
You’ve now created something that goes viral around all the popular social media platforms. And remember, we are now living in a social media-crazed world. People like the idea of being the first to share something on social media. Sort of like having an “I shared this first on Facebook before you did” ideology. And what better way go viral than to make your audience take part in it.

An example of this method was Starbucks’ White Cup Contest. Starbucks invited customers to bring out their creativity and doodle, draw, color and express whatever they wanted on their Starbucks’ white cup and then upload it to their social platforms. People started sending their colorful creations with the hashtag #WhiteCupContest.

This idea appealed to coffee lovers, to creative people and even to budding artists. The advertising idea was genius. And they probably saved on cup printing ink! Genius!

What then is becoming a content brand?

On the other hand, becoming a content brand may not seem so far-fetched. Content brand is like being a multi-media company or a television producer. It acts like one and thinks like a media company. It’s not the brand that has to be advertised, rather it is the content that needs to be promoted. It is the brand that distributes the content to the customers who are interested in it.

These demi-television producers look at their content and find ways and opportunities market that content. They make stuff that their customers and probably buyers want to constantly see and read.

Be a reliable source of information

Once you’ve created informational content about your awesome product, don’t stop there. You should put more effort in creating detailed content about your product your niche and everything else related to your brand. By then, you will have built up a relationship with your reader because your content is very reliable and relatable to them. Become that go-to resource that users always look for.

Create engaging content that people actually want

Don’t keep churning the same kind of content year-in and year-out. Instead, why not create content that is actually solving a problem that people have been stumped with. Find engaging content topics that haven’t been brought up before. People want to be involved in content that actually fits them like a glove. Interactive content gives the audience a piece of entertainment but at the same time a personalized user experience.

It’s a major move and that means it comes with a big responsibility. Your audience is now constantly looking for your content like a brand, they will want to get hooked every day or just to get them by. Sort of like a drug. And it won’t be easy nor cheap.

The verdict

It seems not all brands can move to being a content brand. For one, it needs a big amount to invest in this move and the returns may not be felt for a long time. The big players can do most strategies but the small players may not. And not all brands may be appropriate in becoming content brands.

But still, in the end, both branded content and content brands will come out winners this year in the content marketing world with or without new content rules 2017. As long as brands are wise in creating the right content, with the right kind of stories, that builds the right credibility and reaches the right audience at the right place and at the right time, everybody wins.

Annie Ianko

Content Happiness Advisor

Annie has 18 years’ experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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