Content marketing can take on many forms. In recent years, it has been moving at the speed of light. Businesses use content marketing to achieve profitable results, be it to increase revenue, lower the costs, or gain loyal customers. Content, which is daily consumed by billions of people, is generated by content creators and influencers.
The lines between these two are somewhat blurry and people often use them interchangeably. Even though they're all involved in branded content creation, the way they work and the outcome of their content differs from one another. But the lines ARE getting blurrier and blurrier, with both having to embrace both these titles in order to have bigger exposure and profitable businesses.
WHO IS A CONTENT CREATOR?
Content creators are producers of professional-quality content that engages audiences across various media channels. In fact, they are photographers, creative directors, writers or videographers who take multiple spheres of information to any of the following: copywriting, content management, photography or video editing.
Digital creators are responsible for the contribution of information to specifically digital media, or any of the following: image, video, audio, blog, email, social updates, digital news, and other related content.
On the other hand, influencers are micro-celebrities using their own social media channels to foster authentic community. Even though influencer’s content might not always be the most perfect (but lately they had to step up their game), consumers are much more likely to trust someone they follow on social media over a traditional celebrity or a brand. Why is that so?
Influencers are real people who represent their personal brands through social media to build authentic community. They are aware that sincerity and creativity attract audiences, so they share photos, videos and thoughts across social media to maintain (and increase) their social following.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONTENT CREATORS AND INFLUENCERS?
The major difference between content creators and influencers is how brands can leverage their relationships with each of the partners involved, and the channels used for spreading the brand message.
When it comes to influencers, brands use their power to build trust and brand awareness within the influencer’s community. In this kind of partnership, brands depend and rely on social media channels already well recognized within influencer’s community.
When they partner up with content creators, brands leverage their creativity and ability to curate engaging images, videos and other multimedia content to fuel owned marketing channels - blogs, websites, social media.
Let’s take an example. Instagram content creator @escapingyouth with her surreal photography and editing skills, creates out-of-this-world creative content. There’s no wonder she has more than 230K followers on Instagram and her art has been published across many media channels.
In contrast to professional content creators, influencers are product reviewers, models, famous vloggers, casual travellers and storytellers of the social media world. Brands are looking for them willing to pay for their own presentation of their product. Although not all influencers have great artistic skills, they definitely have a secret sauce that attracts a wider audience. Also, what qualifies someone as an influencer isn’t only beautifully crafted content, but their ability to influence their audience, starting with their personality, and continuing with a great sense of fashion, make-up skills, or just amazing travel calendar followed by decent storytelling (any many many more other segments).
Let’s take a good example of macro influencer @jelena.marija. She’s a lifestyle influencer who posts about fashion, food, travel, family, but also self-care, relationships and emotions. In almost every post, even brand collaborations, she writes a caption which tells a story.
Apparently, the key distinction between content creators and influencers is how you, as a brand, can leverage your relationship. On one hand, collaborating with content creators allows you to leverage creativity and gives an ability to create unique images and videos to fuel your marketing channels. On the other hand, when collaborating with influencers, you can leverage their followers to build brand awareness.
So, just to make it clear – influencers are very much content creators as well. They have been getting more and more creative in order to capture the attention of the audience amongst the sea of thriving influencers. But their essence does not lie solely in how they took their photo or which filter they used. It lies in the persona they build around themselves and people clicking that „follow“ button because of their personality and what they stand for, and not just a pretty Instagram grid.
On the other hand, content creators such as photographers and videographers are becoming influencers of their own kind. With social media, their work found ways to reach the audience who share their interests, and somehow they entered the influencers' sphere, whether they like it or not. But to say that mass following has not helped them cut through the content noise and get exposed to brands and other opportunities would be a lie.
WHAT IS CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY?
Content marketing helps businesses prepare and plan for reliable and cost-effective sources of website traffic as well as new leads. It is a detailed plan for how you will use content to address your key customer needs. It’s an outline that’s enabling you to develop content that speaks to each segment more effectively.
Content marketing strategy consists of four elements, as following:
Element 1: Strategic plan
Strategic plan should focus on your goals in order to know which target audience should be reached and how the content will be delivered to that specific audience. It also provides an overview of targeted results and how they will be achieved and measured.
Element 2: Brand positioning
Positioning will provide a consistent experience for your audience and build brands’ unique personality. It will show what makes your brand a better choice over the competitors.
Element 3: Value proposition
Owned media value proposition is about the value you provide to the audience with your content and how you stand out from the other content publishers. Knowing that, you’ll be able to analyze your competitors’ content strategies and find your editorial niche.
Element 4: Business case
Finally, a documented business case will help you better understand the business goals you set to achieve and how content marketing will bring you closer to those goals. It will also give an insight into the risks of implementing a Content Marketing strategy.
HOW CAN YOU IMPLEMENT CONTENT STRATEGY INTO DIGITAL STRATEGY?
Content marketing strategy can be developed and implemented into digital marketing strategy in five easy steps:
- Collect and analyze your existing content
- Keep your goals clear
- Find your audience
- Plan content development and production
- Analyze your content performance
Step 1: Collect and Analyze Your Existing Content
When you audit your existing content, you get a better perspective and ability to stand out in an era of mass content production. If you consider that in only one day, there are roughly 5 million blog posts written, and around 100 million photos uploaded on Instagram, it’s clear that there is a huge amount of information for your audience to be drowned in. In other words, if you create content that isn't working with your potential audience, it’s a waste of resources and time for your brand.
Step 2: Keep Your Goals Clear
Make sure the content you build meets the goals you set. The goals you start with should be related to your brand's mission and vision. After setting short-term goals, move on to identify your long-term goals which content marketing can accomplish.
Step 3: Find Your Audience
Create content for audiences, not only buyers. Audience represents people who interact with your brand even when they don’t plan to make a purchase. It’s essential to follow up with content that tells how your brand can be useful for them when they are ready to take action. The empathy map could help you out to understand your target audience better. So, attract them with the content before they turn into buyers.
Step 4: Plan Content Development and Production
Plan your actions to protect your strategy from major failures and to find opportunities to boost your results.This step is important as it allows you to observe the workflow length, allocate your resources and adjust your expectations accordingly. Hence, firstly prioritize your actions, then find relevant topics and finally organize your work. Editorial calendar or some other tool might help you here. Also, diversify your content in your plan and take advantage of user-generated content to appeal to every member of your audience.
Step 5: Analyze Content Performance
Analyzing your content performance by following content metrics is the best way to understand what type of content is suitable to your audience.
BENEFITS OF USING CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY
The percentage of content marketers who document their content marketing strategy inches up slowly every year. By delivering valuable and relevant content to users, you can grow advocates of your brand. Total sale is the most common measurement of content marketing success, but there are a few benefits to point out:
Building Credibility - The more informative and useful content you create, the more your target audience will see you as relevant. This can improve your online reputation.
Improving Organic Traffic - The more high quality content you create and repurpose, the higher the possibilities of gaining referral traffic are.
Increasing Traffic - Creating content that fits into a sales funnel might directly move people into making a purchase.
Creating Long Term Relationships - Consistency in publishing quality content helps in building community and overall long term relationships with your audience.
DIGITAL CONTENT vs. AD OVERLOAD
A study by Media Dynamics about ad exposure revealed that in 1984 a person saw an average 2000 ad messages a day, whilst today we see more than 5000 ads a day. We absorb far more advertising messages than we think, and that has an impact on our thoughts and emotions. We might feel like being stalked, and that’s when we want to run away.
According to PageFair Global Adblock Report, more than 615 million devices have ad-blocking software (and this is where Influencer Marketing plays a huge role).
The way we deal with the overload is, either we install ad blocker, or respond only to the adjusted content tailored to our personal interests. In other words, promotions that are contextually relevant to what we are doing, provide value for our lives and aren’t intrusive, aim to be successful.
Having said that, well crafted content strategy, along with the partnerships with different content creators/influencers allows brands to actually save on the advertising budget and become more authentic within the consumers minds. That kind of change in advertising landscape has been happening rapidly in the B2B sector where brands are using content to educate their audience on the subject that matters and relates to them.
WHAT DOES THE CONTENT CREATOR DO?
Content creators curate the content that circulates online, gets shared and sparks offline conversations. There are many content formats. Content creator's job is to create content which is a sure-fire way to increase your traffic. Actually, the content they create is 8 times more engaging than brand directed content!
These are the most often used content marketing formats:
Social media posts in photo, video and text
How-to guides and e-books
Online content creators are storytellers in the first place. They are aware that successful content leads casual visitors to a consistent audience member and turns a potential customer into a loyal purchaser. Hence, content creators use the cross-pollination of ideas that are not confined to only one space. They create aspirational yet authentic and relatable content, which addresses your consumers’ pain points, answers their questions and keeps them updated.
VIDEO CONTENT CREATORS
Although video requires bigger effort than other content, it’s a medium worth experimenting with. Statistics show that videos get 40 times more shared on social media than any other type of content. Video creators are highly aware of that, which results with YouTube remaining the most widely used platform, and according to the latest research consumers tend to trust YouTube influencers more than those on other platforms.
If the number of subscribers speaks enough for itself, PewDiePie reigns as one of the most subscribed individual creators and one of the top social media content creators. His YouTube channel counts 105 Million Subscribers at this moment. The video content he creates, mainly focuses on gaming, including livestreams of him playing.
However, a big obstacle for video creators might be the cost, but even bigger hurdle is a lack of creativity. Many marketers wouldn’t know how to diversify their video offering, even if you gave them the money to do so.
VIDEO CONTENT STRATEGY
Having in mind that a huge percentage of online activity is spent watching videos, we don’t need to emphasize the importance and the power of this medium. The right question is, how to thrive in the video content strategy and achieve your marketing goals?
In order to create a successful video marketing strategy follow these 3 steps:
Understand the purpose of your video content
Quality video content should be shareable, relatable and meaningful to your target audience. With this in mind, a video marketing strategy goal should not be too narrow and its sole objective can’t be simplified to ‘sell more shoes’. That approach can lead you to self-promoted content which would be perceived as spammy.
Rather, make the goal of your video marketing strategy more broad - educational, inspirational, entertaining for your viewers.
Remember, if you don't know how to do it, you're afraid of doing it wrong or you lack resources within your team – this is why influencers can do the talking for you.
To determine the purpose of your video content strategy, make sure you know:
Who your target audience is?
What engages them to like, share and buy?
What kind of video content will your target audience need and appreciate?
Who can authentically speak to your audience? What kind of influencers you want to partner with?
Decide on the topics and formats of your video content
To understand their target audience better, brands often develop buyer personas and outline buyer's journey. Both of the tools help marketers point out the video content topics and formats that will fit their audience best.
Should the video content produced be instructional, narrative or simply a brand story? The goal is to provide something that your viewers will appreciate and will be willing to share.
To determine the most effective style and topics for your audience, experiment and test. Don’t be afraid to borrow ideas from the successful brands you look up to. Some of the most amazing marketing campaigns have been those which took strategy from an unrelated industry and integrated it into their market field.
Let influencers do the talking
In this day and age there's no better way but to have your message shared (and even shaped) by your audience. This is why numerous brands have taken it to Influencers and content creators to help them create their branded content. Some of them even leveraged their loyal audience and turned them into influencers and spokespersons of the brand. With technology, such as one offered by Post For Rent, you can now be fully aware of who you're working with, knowing the engagement, credibility and audience interests of the respective influencer, among many other data points, making it easier than ever to choose the right partners and build long-term relationships.
DO YOU NEED A CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY TO SUCCEED?
Yes! Consumers are fed up with in-your-face advertising and sales tactics. They are attracted to engagement, creativity, and transparency instead. And therefore, content helps you get closer to people who will eventually become your loyal customers. It also allows you to have constant conversations with your audience, to tackle important matters and to shape your voice and values. A recent statistic in Hubspot.com 2020 Content Marketing Strategy, revealed that 70% of marketers are actively investing in content.
When your business invests in content marketing, you improve the ability to connect with your audience, convert more leads, boost brand awareness and engage your buyer personas.
As with all things – consistency really seems to be the key. Even if we look at Influencer Marketing, the one-off collaborations barely even exist anymore. Influencers are looking to build long-lasting relationships with brands they can associate with.
CONTENT IS THE CORE FOR YOUR BRAND
Curating content is not a current trend, it’s essential for any brand. Quality content makes the audience take action. A lack of audience engagement in your content may result in a low return on investment (ROI).
According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI):
- Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing and generates over three times as many leads
- Compared to paid search, content marketing has deeper long-term benefits and lower upfront costs
The demand for content is huge. Content takes visitors on a journey. However, some organizations are more developed than others with their content marketing. The point is to recognize your own practices. Where does your company stand at the moment? What do you need to do to get where you want to be? Quality content and sincerity attract audiences. Focus more on optimized, personalized and influencer activated content experiences to win the global content marketing game.