No doubt, information discovery has come a long way since the early days of the Internet. Fifteen years ago, Google was conducting just 10,000 searches per day. Today it processes more than 1 billion searches per day.
But knowledge discovery, fueled by incredible advances in search technology during the past decade, has not just gone digital--it has also gone social. Consumers are sharing more than 250 million posts on Twitter and nearly 3 billion likes on Facebook daily.
The big opportunity for marketers can be found in harnessing content’s ability to engage directly with the digitally savvy consumer to create passionate brand advocates. Content today is what brand image was during the Mad Men era. Smart marketers are connecting and engaging with customers and prospects through thoughtful, quality content--and content will continue to remain core to what they do.
The Importance Of Quality Content
Instilling passion among customers is both an art and a science. Creating great content means creating content that people want to read, link to, talk about, and share, as Ashley Friedlein, CEO and co-founder of Econsultancy, wrote in a recent post. This is exactly the type of content that both customers and Google are rewarding--85 percent of Internet users click on the organic listings displayed on Google’s first page, while only 15 percent of them click on the promoted links from paid search, based on O’Reilly’s The Art of SEO.
To make a lasting impression, brands need to consider three type of quality content creation: branded content, content in brand-aligned spaces, and brand-defining content. Brands need to start at the center, with branded content, and work their way outward to creating brand-defining content as the ultimate. When brands dominate a space, they become synonymous with the action. Think Kleenex, Xerox, and now Google.
Let’s take a closer look at each content type.
1. Branded content: To start, brands need to develop content that tells a clear and compelling brand and product story that motivates the consumer. Focus on the brand’s core offerings and the pain points your products or services address. For example, Zappos, the leading online shoe retailer, produces top-notch branded content. It posts frequently on its blog and across social media channels about new products. Posts are relevant to seasons and holidays.
Unique and engaging product content will get the nod from your loyal customers, but to get to the undecided buyer, brands need to go beyond the branded content space and into the more promising land of content in brand-aligned spaces.
2. Content in brand-aligned spaces: Midsize Insider, an award-winning news and educational Web site, uses content to connect with and inform midsize IT professionals on a range of hot IT topics. (All content is entirely sourced and produced on the Skyword platform). Since 2011, the site has published more than 3,500 news articles written by more than 60 IT experts, generating 200-plus million social impressions and regarded with a high level of trust. This trust got Midsize Insider accepted into the Google News program, which enables its posts to appear organically on the first page of Google for breaking news and when IT professionals look for industry resources.
By creating insightful, educational and current original content aligned with the needs of its IT buyers, Midsize Insider has moved successfully into a much larger topic space--a space where the buyer has not formed strong brand allegiances and is looking for guidance. By tapping into this space, brands can tap into and connect with a much larger audience.
3. Brand-defining content: Brands know they have arrived when they become one with their consumers’ lifestyle. Red Bull is among those brands; the drink has become synonymous with the extreme sports lifestyle. As I write this post, the Red Bull home page features Jamie Sterling, a professional surfer, riding a 12-foot wave at the 2013 Mavericks Invitational. From the main Web site menu, visitors can choose a variety of topics, including Motorsports, Bikes, Surfing, Games, and Music. The brand’s energy drinks are incorporated subtly, giving the limelight to those stories that bring its consumers--predominantly teenage boys--excitement and joy.
By developing a wide range of lifestyle-driven content, such as articles, videos, and events centered on extreme sports, Red Bull has created a long-lasting connection with its target market. When this happens, a brand own a lifestyle--in Red Bull’s case, there are more than 800,000 organic searches for the term “Red Bull” monthly compared to seven million-plus searches for “surfing.”
Brands that successfully align with or define their customers’ lifestyle become the category leaders--commanding top market share without having to pay for it.
In today’s age of search, social, and mobile, brands have the opportunity to be in constant connection with consumers by creating quality content that seamlessly integrates with their everyday lives. The brands that invest in quality content beyond the branded content space and into content in brand-aligned space will witness a Red Bull-like effect. They will not only be market leaders, they will become market makers.