Content Marketing Beyond Blog Posts And Whitepapers: Get Creative!

Content marketing is mainstream, with 90% of marketers using content to build their brands and achieve their business goals, according to the Content Marketing Institute.content-shutterstock

While it’s now widely understood that content marketing is a critical component of any marketing strategy, the most forward-thinking content marketers are experimenting with how they create, distribute and track their content’s success.

That’s leading to more long-form videos as well as more interesting trends, which we’ll explore further here — micro-content and interactive apps.

As marketers, we don’t have a lot of time to grab a user’s attention. In fact, a recent study from University of Hamburg and the University of Hannover found that the majority of internet users stay on a webpage for fewer than 10 seconds.

Screen Switching Is Rampant

Fragmented consumer attention spans combined with continuous screen switching — up to 27x an hour for digital natives, according to Innerscope Research — and a move to mobile devices are leading marketers to develop a new form of storytelling, through micro-content.

Micro-content is short-form, “snackable” content optimized for distribution on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Vine and Instagram videos, .GIFs, Tweets and Facebook posts are all forms of micro-content, designed to be consumed in seconds, not minutes.

Lululemon was one of the first brands to upload an Instagram video 10 months ago, and its 15-second clip was designed for the medium: in the video, a yoga practitioner wearing Lululemon gear performs a sun salutation in front of famous sites across the globe. The clip generated more than 23K likes.

Taco Bell recently produced the first-ever “snap-by-snap” live film on Snapchat Stories to unveil its next Doritos Locos Taco flavor. The “movie” went on all day, giving fans a reason to return to engage with Taco Bell at multiple moments, right until the final reveal that evening.

But Taco Bell’s Snapchat Story didn’t exist in a vacuum; it was part of the brand’s larger content marketing strategy, which included Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Taco Bell posted “stills” from the film to these channels, raising awareness and driving more viewers back to the main event.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 10.34.48 AM

Micro-content works best when it’s part of a larger content strategy. As in the Taco Bell campaign, micro-content is an effective tool to promote longer-form content.

The Benefits Of Micro-Content

It can spark interest among new audiences and ultimately drive traffic back to your website. Micro-content also helps marketers maximize the value of their content investments, extending the reach and shelf life of existing long-form works.

A single infographic or image, for example, can be turned into a set of smaller, socially-optimized micro-graphics.

Mazda and JWT recently used this technique in their “The Long Drive Home” campaign, posting 60 Instagram images that fit together like a puzzle to reveal the larger image. The campaign drove a 302% increase in followers.

mazda-canada-instagram

Micro-content is just one of many new formats marketers are experimenting with as they aim to tell stories in new ways. Visual content is now pervading all elements of a marketing effort, from pitch materials to presentations to internal reporting on campaign effectiveness.

Exploring Additional Storytelling Formats

By thinking holistically about new ways to present messages and tell stories, marketers can achieve more consistent and effective messaging throughout a campaign’s lifecycle — as well as build active engagement with audiences.

Visually recently helped Nissan drive engagement by creating an interactive timeline that highlights important automotive innovations through the ages. The interactive timeline encourages users to engage at their own pace and dig as deep as they wish — even letting them click through to see original patents Nissan had filed.

nissan-shift

Even a format as staid as the questionnaire is starting to reemerge in new ways.

Talent marketplace Crew, for example, launched HowMuchtoMakeanApp.com, an interactive tool that helps entrepreneurs estimate their costs, then source talent to build their apps through Crew’s platform. For Crew, engaging content is an effective lead generation tool.

crew-interface

With all these new formats and distribution channels, content marketers are now turning their focus to measuring performance — and it’s challenging.  To wit, only 9% of B2B content marketers felt their efforts are “very effective,” according to the Content Marketing Institute.

The first step is defining success: is your goal traffic, social sharing, leads, conversions, press pickups? Tracking performance requires setting a goal ahead of time.

Tracking Is Key

The next step is ensuring your content is trackable. Depending on who you partner with for content creation, strategy or distribution, this can be accomplished via a short piece of code, a unique bit.ly, a hashtag or visual recognition software that many providers (ourselves included) are incorporating into their analytics systems.

These technological advances make it easy to track your content’s performance both on and outside of your owned media channels. At Visually, for example, our new Native Analytics dashboards let marketers track views and shares across the web, aggregate top social mentions and press pickups, as well as gain insight into the demographics of your brand’s most influential sharers.

DashBoard-Visually

Finally, savvy content marketers analyze their results and use them to optimize their campaigns, often midstream.

For example, which videos are driving the most engagement on Twitter? What is the tone of the Tweets they stimulate? Once you have all the data in front of you, it’s much easier to start optimizing current and future efforts.

HP-image

Content Marketing is now table stakes for building brands, and as with any mainstream marketing tactic, practice (and lots of experimentation) makes perfect.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Content Marketing | Content Marketing | Content Marketing Column

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About The Author: is co-founder of Walyou.com and CMO and co-founder of Visual.ly, a marketplace for visual content used by brands and publishers.



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  • findingenvirons

    A lot of this is new to me. Thanks for the examples, although I didn’t watch the micro.

    Lululemon gear isn’t on my grocery list! :-) How do you think a brand chooses between long-form videos and micro-content or interactive apps? I wonder if that is such an enormously broad subject that it’s difficult to address here.

    I know B2B is a challenge. Content Marketing turns up in retweeted links again and again.

    The presence of what you are say socially-optimized micro-graphics in B2B piques my interest. Personally, I’ve found myself looking past the details of Content Marketing because I don’t understand it well enough. Once more, thanks for the examples, and good luck with your dashboards! All the best

  • http://intouch-marketing.com Bill Walls

    Nice article Tai. I couldn’t agree more that the creation of more visually appealing content is becoming more crucial. The ability to stand out from all the noise online is more and more difficult.

    Small business owners have difficulty knowing what content marketing is, our article What the @#$% is Content Marketing, http://intouch-marketing.com/what-is-content-marketing/ may help some business owners understand the basic concepts, let alone buying into the idea of creating marvelous visual content.
    They see the big brand companies investing in this type of collateral and assume it’s out of their reach and budget!

    The main issue, as you point out, is the challenge of measuring performance. Its all fine and well to create great content but Facebook Likes and Tweets only add some much. Do the campaigns lead to the company’s business objectives? Without a plan of action, especially for handling the effects of campaigns, all the hard work of creating visually engaging content will be a waste of time and money.

    Good article!

  • http://www.prosemedia.com/ Justin Belmont

    Excellent job here. While we at http://www.ProseMedia.com do enjoy reading long-form content, you can’t deny that micro-content is on the rise in popularity with marketing. It’s interesting to see how companies like Lululemon and Taco Bell are using more unusual platforms within social media marketing with great results, especially given that they are marketing their products in a very short window of time.

 

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