Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.
29. Kat Von D Beauty: Fan-curated looks. Curated content is a win for everyone: customers get to be in the spotlight, and brands get a break from creating totally original content. Famed tattoo artist Kat Von D now has her own makeup line, and she’s invited fans to tag their Instagram photos showing Kat’s products on themselves with #kvdlook. Then, the beauty brand uploads them to the website. This tactic shows customers new ways to use products and suggests products they may not yet have, without the headache of photo shoots for every single new item or color.
With almost 1 million views on YouTube, the Millie Dresselhaus video has certainly made its rounds, delighting feminists, science fans, and everyone in between – which is exactly what makes GE’s efforts so special. With hard work, talent, and a stellar strategy, the 125-year-old company’s content has managed to capture a bigger and broader audience while promoting its mission, attracting potential talent, and humanizing the enormous scope of what the company does, from developing new and innovative technologies to engineering the tools and equipment that power our homes and the world.
Content marketing is nothing without strategy. You can have the most interesting, thought-provoking piece of content out there, but it’s nothing if it can’t be found by the right people. No matter what stage of your content creation you’re in, whether you’re in pre-planning, development, or finishing up and wondering how to present it to the world, now is the time to start thinking about the best strategy for optimizing and distributing that content to your audience.
Videos are a highly engaging content medium that are shareable across social media platforms and websites alike. Videos require a bigger investment of time and resources than written content, but as visual marketing increases in popularity -- after all, it's 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content -- it's a medium worth experimenting with.
That’s why it’s exciting to see a brand like Farmers Insurance offer a modern and engaging content hub, plus consistently creative and engaging video – like a recent effort from last Halloween. Starring J.K. Simmons as Professor Nathaniel Burke (Farmers’ brand mascot since 2010), and spinning off from the success of an earlier campaign – Hall of Claims, which pokes fun how wide-ranging and far-fetched these reports can be – "The Stranger Claims" series takes on the same theme, complete with a nod to the hit Netflix show "Stranger Things."
If you don't have the resources to devote to regularly producing great content, try focusing on what's known as "evergreen" content, which is less timely and requires less upkeep but can serve as a great industry reference. One great example we've had here at Moz is the Google Algorithm Change History. This began as a place for Dr. Pete Meyers to keep track of various updates from Google, mostly for his own use. As he continued adding to it, bit by bit, it became a go-to resource for anyone looking to learn about shifts in the search results. With minimal upkeep, the page has attracted more than 1.7 million views since it launched in 2011.
The company continues to impress with its content hub, Out of the Blue, which publishes a mix of corporate- and consumer-interest articles that cover travel inspiration as well as inside achievements and affairs. Like the fact that in December, JetBlue released a limited edition board game called Get Packing! – two rounds of 200, actually, since the first sold out so quickly – along with a string of amusing promo clips poking fun at awkward holiday moments that might make you want to leave town. A certificate for a free round-trip ticket – one in every box – could help with that (not to mention build some serious JetBlue loyalty).
Who are the buyer personas and what are their content needs and preferences? This questions looks at the type of information different ‘archetypes’ of buyers seek during their buying journey and maps the customer touchpoints, preferred communication channels, and – to some extent – the content formats, although that’s a question for the content strategy too. Buyer personas haven’t been invented for content marketing. They are used for an overall marketing strategy. But in a content marketing strategy you take a more complete look at them.
In January 2017, Visit Seattle partnered with Sundance TV to launch "Project Five by Five," which asked five filmmakers to each create a short film about Seattle, inspired by one of the five senses. One video showed how a local farm produces fresh cream and berries for a beloved Seattle ice cream shop. Another reimagined Seattle native Jimi Hendrix's first skydiving trip. The shorts premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on Sundance TV.
USAA is another example of an insurer that is thinking big, in terms of content. The financial institution has been around for more than 90 years, serving a client base made up primarily of military members, veterans, and their families. It’s a specific audience and one with which USAA knows just how to communicate. But beyond its content hub, USAA Stories, which features family, personal finance, and service-specific topics, as well as newer themes like travel in an effort to attract a broader readership, the company isn’t afraid to explore other forms of content.
One final word on creating a content marketing strategy: It’s not a one-and-done process. As things change within your company, and as the nature of the content marketing landscape shifts, you might find that you’ll have to go back and adjust your strategy. Think of your content marketing strategy as something that will grow and change over time, as your brand grows and changes.
The respect and admiration of your audience will absolutely take time to build, as they require earning trust. Once you've proven your knowledge and (even more importantly) your integrity, though, you can become the guiding light that people turn to when everyone else is simply contributing to confusion. Sites that don't care a lick about quality—sometimes called content factories—are bound to give bad or misleading advice, making readers scratch their heads and wonder who they can trust. That should be you. The authority you gain then transfers to your products or services, making customers that much more likely to choose you over the competition.
How is the industry you are in changing? And more specifically: how is the buyer’s journey of your buyer personas evolving in the industries your customers are active in and your business is active in. What role can content marketing play? As an example: look at the evolutions in the B2B services industry. Content plays a clear role but look further. For instance: Key Account Management is a priority in that industry. Can it be served using an optimized content marketing strategy? Also look at the influencer sphere of the buyers in that industry and at the different types of buyers.
Similarly, USAA launched “The Money Drill” podcast in 2016 as an experiment to attract younger audience members while delivering financial content in an easy, engaging way. It was worth it; the program was met with almost immediate success, and, nearly two years on, draws 24,000 plays per month. "The Money Drill" also gave USAA's content marketing team a major internal win.
This clever video is one of the best content marketing examples. It gets the attention of Hootsuite’s audience with fun and creative messaging and effective visuals that pay tribute to the popular TV show. However, this video goes far beyond just that. It also helps Hootsuite make an emotional connection while positioning itself as a product for businesses. It’s an integration product that helps bring together separate channels, allowing marketers to create a unified social experience.