The multiplication of communication channels like those of the dominant media and the rise of social networks, niche blogs and various influencers have definitely shaken up the established order. This phenomenon has redefined all the rules, especially those of brand content ethics. It is becoming difficult for brands to leave their mark and communicate effectively with their targets. Traditional advertising, being on the one hand branded content, is on the other hand no longer the only medium capable of speaking to targets.
Branded content is hardly a new thing; as far back as 1895 John Deere, the now famous and iconic machinery manufacturer, launched its magazine The Furrow. It is one of the oldest brand content products still being published today, which further influences the agricultural market.
Brand content is an essential tool for delivering value-added information and capturing the attention of digital users by effectively meeting the requirements of the various search engines of social platforms and the web. These are major and crucial issues for all brands in order to take a prominent place in the daily lives of consumers (B2C) and businesses (B2B/B2B2C).
Branded content is hardly a new thing; as far back as 1895 John Deere, the now famous and iconic machinery manufacturer, launched its magazine The Furrow
Creating and publishing original and, above all, relevant content is a time-intensive activity that requires rigour and journalistic skills. Traditional print media, through their magazine-style content, have developed this expertise over decades, if not centuries, of practice. Their success is attributable to striking the right balance between the ability to guess trends and making their readers discover them while keeping a respectable distance from brands – in order to preserve the integrity of journalists – thus building credibility with their audiences. However, this precaution too often eludes brands that want to produce content, mixing the old parameters of advertising with those of content making. Consumers are wise, and they know when a self-serving discourse is trying to seduce them without really informing them. To achieve these goals, the brand will have to invest a lot, but this investment in content marketing can pay dividends in the long run. To achieve this will require transparency and, above all, building a content strategy that is well aligned with the expectations and needs of these targets.
The brand must establish its relevance by adequately meeting its users’ needs. It must also be transparent by giving clear, honest answers to their questions. We must anticipate the micro-moments between the brand and its user-consumers and be ready to answer them at the right time. This is even more true in the digital world, where such micro-moments are ever greater. The experience must be fast and frictionless. Brand voice is essential on many levels. Content helps build customer loyalty, attract new customers and, above all, highlight and distinguish a brand in an already crowded world.
To perform, last, and generate loyalty, a media brand must now:
A media brand also has to meet the following three imperatives:
Good content strategy will be multi-channel and respect the nature of the media involved. It is not enough to produce and publish relevant content on your website and social networks. Tangible results will only be obtained if it is accompanied by an SEO strategy that will generate qualified traffic. The use of personas allows you to create content that is more likely to meet the expectations of your targets. A very good example is Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist who is one of the most popular American scientists. This brilliant communicator publishes on all platforms and reaches extremely diverse audiences, from the complete neophyte to the passionate expert. His content strategy is based on a matrix that takes into account the knowledgeability of his targets and the degree of detail they want in the information sought. In this way, he can address the ComicCon audience with the same effectiveness and interest level as he would a specialized scientific conference.
This intensive work is essential to create effective and efficient content in the long term. A content strategy must also be deployed on a long-term and regular basis. Publishing regularly and respecting a realistic schedule will allow you to create a lasting relationship with your audience. Defining a clear editorial line and keeping to it makes for a strong bond with the consumer. Also, it is better to publish shorter but more regular content than the opposite.
The Neil deGrasse Tyson's content strategy is based on a matrix that takes into account the knowledgeability of his targets and the degree of detail they want in the information sought. In this way, he can address the ComicCon audience with the same effectiveness and interest level as he would a specialized scientific conference.
Home Depot provides a very interesting example of content strategy focused on the needs of current and potential consumers. The strategy revolves around helping the consumer and how the brand can help the customer get better at using the products the brand offers. By offering tips and tricks in text and video formats on its commercial website, the brand educates, helps and retains its users and then guides them to the right products to complete their projects. More than just content designed to promote the sale of products, the brand even provides advice on the legal aspects of municipal regulations governing different types of projects. There are also buying and trend guides. Each content is categorized according to the skill level required (beginner-intermediate-professional) as well as the duration of the work. One can also find free plans and the possibility of signing up for in-person or online workshops and booking a consultation with an expert. Home Depot’s YouTube channel is extremely well managed and catalogued, making it easy to discover and navigate.
Alexandre Gravel, partner and co-president, strategy at Toast, a firm specializing in brand content and television production, says: “Home Depot is a great brand, committed to supporting its customers and future customers by helping them, before a purchase or a project, but also after purchase, through its content offer, which explains the proper use of a tool, for instance.”
In closing, a French researcher, Arnaud Pêtre, estimated in 2007 that each person is exposed to no less than 15,000 commercial stimuli per day. According to him, the use and dominance of the Internet in our lives suggests that today this figure is largely exceeded. All the more reason for your brand to have its own discourse, as strong brands are relevant, different, valued and recognized. Positioning a brand means staking out the territory to occupy in the minds and hearts of targeted individuals in order to differentiate it from its competitors and give it a reason to be preferred, repeatedly.
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