"If you give something away and are authentically not expecting something in return, you end up getting much more back in return.”
— Scott Roen, Head of Digital Marketing at BlackRock (formerly AmEx)
Thinking of how you can benefit your audience is the best way to give your brand a winning content strategy.
The more helpful and meaningful your brand’s content is to the human in front of the screen, the better your brand can be perceived. And as we all know, perception is reality.
As content marketing grows, more brand marketers are understanding how to tell their brand’s stories. As a result, we’re seeing better content in every vertical.
So let's take a look: Who is creating content effectively and amplifying the right messages? What are some best practices and tips we can we take away?
Tip #1: Be memorable.
Get creative with your content offering, voice and personality.
How do you want your brand personality to come across? Funny, competent, sophisticated? None of the above?
Once you have that figured out, it's time to create the right content. People respond well to big ideas, sleek visuals, short videos and simple graphics.
A genius example: The HBO show Silicon Valley has a fictional company, Pied Piper, with a company blog, which matches the show's plot as it unfolds (e.g. winning TechCrunch Disrupt, the loss of their first investor).
As soon as Pied Piper received funding on the show, ads surfaced online about how the "company" was hiring. Billboards popped up in Silicon Valley.
Digital is great, but if you can give your brand a multimedia experience on and offline, that is the sweet spot for a holistic branding approach.
Tip #2: Think holistically.
Diversify your content for a multi-faceted brand approach.
Don’t just focus on one channel to tell your brand’s stories. Social media content works well for bit-by-bit storytelling, especially Vine, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest. The key is to use a multi-channel approach and have the right people in the right markets discover it.
A genius example: An impressive recent content strategy comes from, of all brands, Comcast XFINITY. Comcast launched a multi-channel social media campaign in 2014 with following for well-liked blogger and lifehacker, Ty. Ty has been taking social media by storm with 6-second life hacks on Vine, cool city sightings on Instagram, and restaurant and TV show recommendations in Miami, Chicago and Atlanta markets.
XFINITY is partnering with an influencer who knows the best way to use multiple social media channels, and is amplifying this über-creative social content with in-feed native ads to increase their reach in the right markets.
Photo: Comcast XFINITY's Fast Life With Ty
Tip #3: Share it and scale it.
Allow your content strategy to be beneficial, shareable and scalable.
Whether it's a compelling collection of information like an infographic or something entertaining like a funny video, the content in content marketing should always offer your audience something.
When it comes to your content strategy, your audience should feel compelled to do something, whether it's to seek out more related content or to share. If your content marketing efforts are picking up steam, consider making more, and have a central place to host it.
A genius example: PAM, the cooking spray, has a multi-purpose fleet of products that can help with any situation in the kitchen, from nonstick cooking to easier cleanup.
This CPG brand, owned by ConAgra Foods, has a master repository of tips, recipes and videos on their own site and has been partnering with food blogs and mommy blogs such as "All Recipes", "A Dash of Sanity" and "Babblings of a Mommy."
Tip #4: More is better.
Amplify content with engaging headlines.
A phrase coined by Youtility author Jay Baer has stuck with me: think "help" over "hype" for your audience.
Intel stays true to helping its audience with a prominent content hub, iQ by Intel. With hundreds of articles that speak to tech enthusiasts worldwide, Intel iQ exceeds expectations of what a brand blog could be.
The key to Intel’s content success is seeing what sticks with their audiences in terms of headlines and content.
A/B testing different headlines can help the brand understand how users like to interact with content. From there, you can see what is best to amplify and create your own success benchmarks.
Tip #5: Target smart.
Target your content to the right people.
For B2B and B2C brands, targeting relevant demographics and channels, as well as other sophisticated audience targeting, is key.
Segmenting with the right first and third party data can propel your content marketing efforts in ways you never imagined. Without targeting, you may as well be throwing spaghetti at a wall and expecting it to stick.
A genius example: TD Ameritrade has become a content juggernaut with their site TheTickerTape.com. It's a prime example of a brand that is doing content the right way.
Not only do they provide expert insights and opinions, the brand also helps its audience with personal finances and investing. TD Ameritrade is offering valuable tips from the advantages of IRAs to retirement planning for small business owners.