Modern web users are always searching for new content to consume. From hot new startups to big businesses, everyone has to provide valuable content to engage their customers and keep them hooked in order to get visibility for their brand and also to stay relevant. Brands that are fully invested in content marketing are the ones driving conversions with informative and interactive content hubs, winning social media presences and use of innovative new technologies. They are the brands pushing the boundaries with their content marketing campaigns, always creating something fresh and inventive to capture audience attention and boost awareness.
Most SMBs look at the powerful content marketing efforts of large enterprises and mistakenly think they don’t have the digital resources to succeed with content themselves. When the reality is that it is possible for any business to succeed with content marketing, provided it has the right strategy in place. We can all learn from the best, so let’s take a look at two examples of top brands with killer content marketing sites.
With widely adopted mobile apps, and massive social audiences, Starbucks concentrates on social media branding that expertly expresses what the brand is all about. Starbucks does use posts to advertise products but it is done rather subtly and always with a lot of personality and originality. But the brand’s social channels are more focused on creating consumer engagement around popular Starbucks drinks and products, in an effort to drive sales. For instance, the latest Instagram campaign, #UnicornFrappuccino shows the potential of visual content in generating buzz. With over 640,412 likes the color-changing frappuccino caught the imagination of netizens. In December last year the company innovatively made use of “1st and Main,” an animated web series featuring talking animals working and hanging out at Starbucks to reach out to newer audiences.
Starbucks has been keen to promote the integrity of their brand to get more customers in the door. They have managed to do this through the brand-building web publication called 1912 Pike that holds up “memorable and authentic stories with coffee at their core”. It helps brand Starbucks differentiate itself as a compassionate company that offers ethically and sustainably sourced coffee to its customers. They want people to know not just about their coffee, but also where the coffee beans come from, for example –communities like Starbucks Reserve® Rwanda Abakundakawa and Starbucks Reserve® Malawi Sable Farms that the company has built lasting relationships with. Starbucks masterfully produces content about the number of social projects Starbucks has undertaken in over a dozen countries and also about opportunities like the Starbucks College Achievement Plan that the company is providing for Starbucks partners (employees) across the United States, which makes the brand look less formal and more community focused.
They are also quick to effectively jump on to current trends, news or events to offer relevant and responsive content. With their short and sweet posts and content devoted to the little personal moments of life, Starbucks looks to integrally involve itself into peoples’ lifestyles. Starbucks therefore encourages user generated content that celebrates family and friends. No wonder customers find it easy to interact with the brand in a much more personal and memorable way.
IBM is not just an institution in the world of technology. It also has one of the largest content marketing initiatives aimed at promoting thousands of products and solutions. With global customers, the content is published in nearly 100 different languages. IBM knows its customers well and therefore develops dynamic and personalized content experiences targeted at specific personas so that people feel it’s relevant to them. The focus is always on roles-based messaging and also the usability, and interaction with target audiences. Personalization, personas, process, and performance mapped to specific end users are at the basis of IBMs content strategy to improve sales opportunities.
IBM successfully develops different content types, such as white papers, case studies, technical content, data sheets, analyst papers, videos, event-based content, FAQs, consultancy reports etc., to generate leads and nurture relationships with their customers. Visually rich and engaging educational videos have been developed and shared through multiple video sharing sites. But no matter what, all the different pieces of content links back to their main website where people can engage with more content.
IBM has managed to position itself as a think tank for tech innovation by producing authoritative content at an expert level on its blogs from IBM Emerging Technology to IBM Think or the IBM Training and Skills blog. It provides a library of education and training resources for the range of industries of which IBM is a part of. Their Voices page is an aggregate of their blog posts and other content.
Most importantly the key lesson to take from IBM’s content marketing strategy is how to take advantage of key influencers in the industry. IBM has successfully nurtured relationships with influential bloggers through their cognitive customer engagement project known as “Watson” in order to build their brand. IBM handpicks industry experts, critics and bloggers, known as “IBM Futurists”, to help spread the word about its technologies among their extended network of independent followers. IBM also encourages peer to peer sharing of their social content so there is a lot of visually-rich, sharable facts and data available on their site that can be shared with a click.
Marketers must become publishers and start producing content that their audiences crave for. The businesses that understand and follow basic principles of content marketing will be the ones who win over the next several years. Just because you don’t have massive marketing resources doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the same level of content success. DirectiveGroup can show you what content marketing success truly looks like.
This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at DirectiveGroup, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact them today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.
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