Creating Successful Branded Content Without Being "That Guy"
Have you thought about starting a blog for your website? Do you know how to spell the word B-L-O-G but you don’t know what to actually put in one? Well, you’ve come to the right place because today we’re talking about branded content!
The idea of branded content isn’t new. It’s been around for a very long time, and you encounter it every day in many ways. It can be a recipe on the back of a box of pasta you’ve been meaning to buy ingredients for, or it can be a newsletter from your bank, or a blog post on your insurance company’s website. Branded Content can be lots of things, and they all contribute to your experience of a brand. Since we could totally write a book about this, today we’ll just focus on branded content as it applies to blog posts.
Some companies mistakenly attack the concept of branded content in ways that turn people off by thinly disguising a sales pitch under the guise of “help” for the consumer. They try to establish themselves as authorities in their field who can teach folks very important stuff. However, in most cases this branded content comes off as self-serving, low quality fluff and people recognize that. Instead of fostering loyalty and a sense of credibility, you have aroused suspicion of bias and vested interests. That’s so not awesome.
We don’t want that to happen to you and your carefully thought out brand, so while you’re thinking about adding a blog to your website, keep these tips in mind: they can be helpful when creating valuable and useful branded content that both contributes something to humanity and gets you noticed for your awesomeness. Winning!
The first step: knowing what will be of value to your customers.
Here, let us explain what we mean…
Let’s say you own an ice cream store, and you have a cute website with little dancing ice cream cones and cherries all over it and everything. On your website, there’s a blog where you write all about your superior ice cream making skills and tell the ice cream lovers of the world how yours is the only stuff worth eating. To demonstrate, you’ve also got a nifty live streaming video of people standing around your shop eating drippy cones and gettin’ sticky with it.
That kind of content doesn’t deliver value to customers unless they happen to have some sort of fetish for sticky ice cream faces. You need to look at WHY they would spend more than five seconds looking at the screen and then clicking away.
Good quality branded content however, will offer something far more valuable to people. What if instead of blogging braggadocios babble, you provide a communal space where customers can share their ideas for new flavors with you? Perhaps you could even have voting buttons to get immediate feedback, and then actually make that new flavor? Heck you could even name it after the customer who thought it up!
What if you collaborated with them to create the wackiest sundae imaginable? What if instead of that video of sticky faces, you posted a tour of the kitchen where your ice cream is made, or a video tutorial for how to make ice cream at home (in the winter when your shop is closed, of course)?
These things would be useful to ice cream lovers and they’d come back to you time and time again because you have made it all about THEM and NOT you.
The key here is that you don’t always have to have an angle when creating content. People know when they’re being sold to, and most hate it. Don’t you? Who likes walking into a showroom only to be jumped on by salespeople like hungry fleas? Again, over promotion and bombardment only makes consumers question motives.
This is not to say that your brand shouldn’t have a place at the picnic table. It absolutely can, but it shouldn’t also be the farmer, the cow, the ice cream machine, and the friendly teenager you have serving up cones to make it the YOUR BRAND show. If you’ve created quality content, the association with your brand will be positive enough without all the self-promotional hoopla.
Naturally, your brand personality also needs to be approachable in tone, voice and messaging. Good content should be sharable, too! Users like to share things they like, and if they like what you’re saying, you want them to be able to embed, download, or share it as much as they want to. And don’t get trapped into making SEO (search engine optimization) the entire goal of your content. It’s still important because search engines have to be able to see and understand your content so users can find it, but if it sounds robotic, people will realize it’s written for machines, not them, and it can actually frost them over (get it? Ice cream? Frost? We are clever! Search engines miss that, you know.)
Once you’ve got some great content ideas, don’t stop! Keep rolling with it and be prepared to constantly evaluate what folks are responding to—and what they’re not.
So to recap: customers judge a brand based on their experience with it; the experience is the brand and you want your customer’s experience to be epic. Make your blog content all about delivering something fun, interesting, and valuable to people and it’ll be the cherry on top of your sundae rather than an ice cream headache.
Oof. That was a really, really, dorky last line, right? Sorry about that.
PS: Next week we’ll talk about opinion websites that can help you determine what your customers like and dislike, what interests them and how they experience your brand! This is gonna be GREAT!