Content marketing is a great way for start-ups to promote their business but the opportunities extend beyond the main social media sites. Here are some key tools — and inspirational examples — that can help you build your brand presence using online content.
Infographics are ideal for visualising big data and complicated concepts in a simple, fun way. Despite their increasing popularity, the best examples still have the power to command attention and — importantly — get those much-valued social shares.
Many infographics now provide an interactive element, such as Animagraffs’ How a Car Engine Works. With shares across various social sites already well into the “viral” zone, this is an example of how far and wide an infographic can reach. All with an important added SEO benefit: they can be picked up by publications that are relevant to your industry.
PDFs, ebooks and guides — when executed with panache — are all fantastic online resources and a great way to get your business in front of new customers’ eyes. A good example of this in practice is software company Hubspot’s online marketing library. Offering templates, guides, webinars and ebooks on everything from ecommerce to social media, the library’s resources are available at no cost. All you need is your email address. Hubspot is one of the most respected marketing websites around, so what you’re getting here is a lot of great expertise and insight, at zero cost.
The Google+ Hangout can be perfect for providing an immersive and engaging user experience. Both of these were factors in the massive success of Cadbury UK’s Google+ Hangouts, which involved fun stuff like live tasting sessions and boosted their follower count by 150,000 people. Google has also started pushing Hangouts into the enterprise space. It has recently announced that customers will no longer need a Google+ profile to use Hangouts, making it a more viable option for business users. Business customers can now use their existing login details and invite up to 14 others to join their HD video chats.
YouTube provides some really interesting opportunities for content marketing and with the right strategy in place, it can be a wonderful place to encourage creative customer interaction with your brand. For a striking example of YouTube content marketing in action, check out high-definition photography brand GoPro’s YouTube channel, which encourages anyone with a GoPro device to record their experiences. The videos show a wide range of spectacular stuff — from feeding cougars to bungee jumping. And with the GoPro logo and slogan bookending each clip, the brand name is prominent but unobtrusive.
Blogging continues to be a huge deal in content marketing and there’s no sign of that changing any time soon. An engaging and very modern approach to blogging forms the basis for the Guardian Angel content hub from financial services provider AXA Business. The hub is home to an array of accessible and highly relevant content, including blogs, video clips, downloads and guides designed to support and inspire new business owners. Supplying clear, useful and relevant content on everything your customers might be looking for, presented in a user-friendly and engaging way, is a great way to encourage customer loyalty.
In terms of popularity, SlideShare is the YouTube of presentations. It’s a great place to impart concise, easily digestible information about what your company does — and it’s especially good for B2B presentations. Your presentations can be accessed easily — all you need to supply is a link and your presentations are instantly viewable.
Once you’ve created your content, it’s time to share it. The more awesome your content is, the greater the number of potential links, views, shares and engagement it will receive.
Putting your content out there goes way beyond just Facebook and Twitter. In fact, these days it seems that Facebook is becoming (whisper it) obsolete when it comes to content marketing. Paid-for content recommendation platforms such as Outbrain, Nrelate and Taboola are also a great way to promote your content to a number of very high quality media sites etc and operate on a Cost Per Click basis.
Copyright © 2014 Matthew Marley, a digital marketing blogger.
You may or may not know (or even care) that the average YouTube video is 4 minutes and 12 seconds long. Taken in isolation, this figure is pretty meaningless and perhaps not that surprising.
But what if we take that average YouTube video length and compare it to two of the newest video platforms on the block — Instagram and Vine? With their compulsory video lengths of just 15 and 6 seconds respectively, the average YouTube video looks like a feature-length film in comparison.
Let’s put this into perspective. Placed alongside Vine’s 6-second limit, the average YouTube’s video is a whopping 42 times longer. Think about it this way — Peter Jackson’s first Lord of the Rings film, at 178 minutes, is 42 times longer than the average YouTube clip. So the difference between a Vine video and a YouTube video is epic.
The death of the linear brand narrative and the rise of omni-screening (watching TV whilst browsing content on a tablet or smartphone) is redefining how advertisers and marketers are interacting with their target audiences.
So what is driving this trend towards ever-shorter pieces of visual content? And how can these different marketing platforms work together?
Jon Mowat, managing director at Hurricane Media, spoke about this at his recent presentation at the SES conference: “If YouTube marketing is all about creating minutes, then Vine and Instagram marketing must be about creating moments.”
Just as the narrative in a film or television series follows a series of beats in which character and plot develop towards a conclusion, now marketing narratives have beats that are usually in the form of a question and answer or an emotional connection.
If the linear brand narrative is dead, then the key challenge to marketers in the new multi-platform age is developing strategies that respond to the beats of different narrative drums. In other words, you must get your moments to compliment your minutes.
This means engaging with consumers and the wider online communities at a level never seen before. It involves knocking down barriers that have traditionally existed between corporates and the consumers, with new kinds of video content produced on-the-fly.
Understanding what’s funny and what’s not, what’s on-topic and what’s yesterday’s news, has become more important than ever before on Vine and Instagram.
There’s no doubt that keeping it short and sweet is key to video marketing on Vine and Instagram, as is injecting brand personality. Involving your community is also essential, as well as planning and reacting. In fact, marketing on Vine and Instagram can be condensed into three stages:
Effective marketing on Vine is about reacting and responding. The ability to plan your video marketing around key events or opportunities in your sector is one thing; using quick thinking to create potentially viral content that plays off the unpredictable at these events is quite another.
You have to understand the condensed nature of the micro-movie format. Content needs to get to the point and be uncluttered. Comic content, using techniques such as animation and montage, call for precision and timing.
Many firms make the mistake of producing detached and irrelevant content that doesn’t engage their targeted viewers at all. Vine and Instagram isn’t just about content marketing but communication. Use video to open up a dialogue with your community or to respond or offer up commentary on something trending within your target communities.
There’s a completely different raft of considerations that go into creating content that is 6 or 15 seconds in length. Vine and Instagram movie-making demands marketers adapt to short narrative beats and rise to the challenges of building brand awareness on these platforms.
Joe Cox is head of content at Bespoke Digital.
If you're a small business owner and you're not on YouTube, you're missing out on one of the most powerful marketing platforms out there.
Not only do YouTube videos drive traffic and produce excellent search results, but they also provide a much more accessible medium for accessing your customer base, building relationships, establishing your expertise and really branding your business’ unique personality.
Who, after all, would prefer reading a dense white paper over watching what feels like a personal conversation with a business owner?
Still, filming a shaky video on your iPhone and pushing upload won't do much to help you stand out from the (very dense) crowd. Our guide to using YouTube can give a much deeper understanding of just how YouTube can fold into your marketing campaigns and how you can really master the medium.
The biggest mistake most business owners — big and small — make when they begin with YouTube is approaching with a "make it viral" mentality. This focus is unfortunate, because YouTube really provides a unique opportunity for appealing directly to your most ardent and loyal customers.
What's more, few people have the perfect formula for virality, and the more you make this goal your soul focus, the less authentic and compelling your videos will be.
A few tips for making the most of your niche:
Video and YouTube are very specific mediums, and it's important to learn the craft behind them both. You'll want to consider:
Whether you're running entire video campaigns or your video will be just one part of a wider campaign, YouTube is an essential marketing tool for any business. Master the medium, provide great content have a little fun, and enjoy all that YouTube can do for you.
Luke Clum is a digital marketer with Distilled.
Targeting customers through social media has become more and more prolific over recent years. Household brands through to much smaller start-up companies are using tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
However, it is vital that when selecting the social media tools you intend to use to target your audience, you are selected the correct ones. For example, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn users all have very different demographic profiles, so there is no point using a tool like Facebook to reach a target audience of professionals aged 40+, when statistics show that around over 80 per cent of UK Facebook users are under 40.
Once you’ve decided which social media tool or tools you are going to use, decide how you’re going to approach it carefully. What are you saying and to whom?
There have been numerous examples of major brands attempting to conduct social media campaigns or stunts, which have badly backfired and resulted in a consumer backlash, and ridicule aplenty.
No brand can afford that kind of damage, no matter how large or small.
Always have the consumer at the centre of any social media activity, and think as they would. Add value for your consumer, and always think of how they will gain from your activity. For example, a Facebook page that offers discounts and information about your product or service is innovative and is likely to increase brand awareness virally.
Be different and try to make sure that your social media campaign is one that will get people talking and one they will remember. No matter how simple.
And last, but by no means least, encourage your consumers to engage with you through social media activity. Simply talking at them by posting regular updates sends out the wrong message entirely.
Social media is all about engagement and interaction, and is not a passive process.
If you can actively encourage consumers to get involved in these campaigns, for example by posting suggestions for new products ideas as part of a competition, they will feel that they have some ownership of the brand, and this is vital.
Consumers engaging with each other through social media and sharing brand opinion has a favourable reaction, not only because these consumers feel they have ownership of the process, but also because they are more likely to relate to others’ opinions about the brand as they seem more ‘real’ than direct marketing messages.
Finally, don’t forget that many mobile phones today have powerful interactivity and will be linked to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can take advantage of this by developing a downloadable application, which can be done on a relatively low budget and connects you directly with your consumer. Just remember that an app needs to add value for your consumer. That way it will make their life easier and cement their relationship with your brand.
Howard Scott is digital marketing director at Sequence Digital. The digital marketing agency’s clients include the BBC, S4C, The Welsh Assembly Government, Storm Model Management and Rachel's Organic.
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What a year it has been for the Marketing Donut! We have had such a busy time with bringing small businesses the best resources to help them with their marketing that we are having a well earned break over Christmas and into the New Year.
The website and all its resources will be fully available but this will be the last blog post and there will be no Twitter activity from @MarketingDonut until Monday 4 January when we will be back with a renewed vigour and determination to help your small business take on the challenges of 2010.
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We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped make the Marketing Donut all that it is so far, be that our experts, sponsors and you, our readers. We wish you all a restful Christmas period and a Happy New Year.
James, Simon, Rachel and Kasia - the Marketing Donut team.