According to Content Marketing Institute, 47% of B2B marketers say that their biggest content marketing problem is creating content that allows their brands to engage with readers.
In other words, nearly half admit that they don’t know how to make content that interests their audience. I’m sure a similar statistic could be found with consumer marketers.
Ask yourself: Does your brand content fall into this category? Are readers turning away from your brand because they don’t find the content you produce to be as engaging or authentic as it should be?
Let’s hope not.
In the same survey, customers also indicated that trust in a brand’s content is three times as important to them as trust in a brand’s own employees. Clearly, it’s important to your content marketing success that that the content you create is highly relevant to your brand (i.e. more brand-centric).
Brand-centric content, in its simplest terms, is content that is highly focused on your brand. This focus means that you pay particular attention to each of your brand’s unique characteristics, which encompasses everything from design to personality to the types and topics of your content.
By intentionally creating brand-centric content, you’ll be able to boost engagement with your brand as readers begin to recognize your content more and more (whether they see it on your own website, on social media, or even on another blog).
Here are five practical strategies that you can start implementing today to boost brand engagement with more brand-centric content:
1. Keep design consistent across content formats
As a brand grows and matures, its design is bound to evolve. For instance, over the past seven years, Marketo’s logo has developed into a more minimal icon:
This sort of design change isn’t an issue, because for one, it takes place over a period of time, not instantly, and two, the basic layout and primary color remain the same.
However, dramatically switching up brand design and color scheme without any sort of prior notice can be a significant deterrent to creating the sort of brand-centric content that readers will recognize across the internet.
Let’s say the design of your marketing site revolves around red, white, and blue. Once a visitor stays long enough on your site, they’ll begin to associate your brand with those colors.
Now say that the same visitor comes across an infographic of yours that’s been syndicated to a different content network. The said visitor really likes this infographic and decides to engage with it both by sharing it on social media and by leaving a comment.
But because you haven’t paid attention to brand colors (your infographic uses different shades of red, orange, and yellow), the visitor doesn’t recognize the infographic as one of your brand’s productions.
The result? A squandered opportunity to turn an average visitor into a loyal follower.
Sometimes, you won’t find it as easy to maintain the design of a content piece, depending on your distribution. For example, if you convert a blog post into a SlideShare presentation, then there’s not too much you can do about the design of the page where your presentation is posted. SlideShare’s own black and grey tints will of course be dominant.
What you could do, however, is ensure that instead of the default hues, your PowerPoint slides use a background and text fonts that match your typical brand colors and/or blog typefaces. You could even stick a scaled-down version of your logo into a corner. That way, when a visitor sees your presentations, they’ll be significantly more likely to recognize your brand as the author.
Quick tip: Use this infographic to help guide your design process.
2. Standardize your brand voice
Another way to ensure that your content marketing strategy stays true to your brand is to standardize your brand voice.
Your brand voice has to do with how you express yourself in your content. Nearly all of your brand’s communication materials will carry your voice, whether we’re talking advertising campaigns, marketing slogans, white papers, or blogs.
Brand voice incorporates elements like sentence structure, formality level, language (e.g. American English vs. British English), colloquialisms, and more. By selecting and standardizing voice across all marketing materials, visitors will be better able to pick up on and identify your content.
Here are a couple things to remember when choosing voice for a brand:
- Use a marketing persona to profile your ideal reader and think about what writing style and personality your persona would prefer reading.
- Being stuffy or overformal can be a big turn-off to your readers, especially when you’re marketing directly to consumers in a B2C niche.
3. Utilize interactive content
Interactive content is quickly becoming one of the most popular current trends in marketing. According to a 2015 DemandGen survey, over 90% of customers favor visual/interactive content, a stat that’s up from last year, indicating upward movement.
Interactive content can come in many shapes, sizes, and formats, but a few common ones include quizzes, contests, polls, and surveys.
These content formats coax visitor interaction with your brand, resulting in higher engagement levels and more participation and involvement from your followers.
4. Encourage user-generated content
User generated content (UGC) is a unique content type that many brands today haven’t experimented with. The defining trait of UGC is that it’s created by your customers and web visitors, not by your own marketing team.
UGC campaigns have immense potential not only to boost engagement with your brand, but also to go viral across the web.
Take the example of Belkin, a company that creates protective cases for smartphones and tablets. In 2013, Belkin partnered with LEGO to come out with a line of LEGO builder cases for iPhones. When the product launched, Belkin encouraged all of their customers to instagram pictures of their custom-built cases with the hashtag #LEGOxBelkin.
Hundreds of buyers took Belkin up on their suggestion, which also resulted in some decent press coverage for the company. I myself am a Belkin customer!
5. Align every content piece with brand values
When you publish a piece of content, ask yourself this question: is this piece of content something that I want people to associate my brand with?
The content you publish—yes, every single piece—needs to align with your brand values.
Your brand values are a BIG part of your business’ mission statement. I’ll borrow an example from Groove here, a company that sells a customer support SaaS. On their “About” page, they discuss how their product’s main values are simplicity and ease of use. Groove’s goal is clearly stated: they want to help small businesses make their customers happier and their employees more productive. When you look at the content published on their customer support blog, and at the reputation they’ve earned in their industry, it’s clear that Groove has stuck to their values and that their mission statement has helped them to become a success. Your content ought to be based around similar values that define what your brand is trying to achieve as a company. Remember: don’t just think in the short term. As the product/service provided by your brand evolves, so will your priorities and values. Keep in mind whatever long term targets/goals you may have when formulating brand values and create content centered around them.
Branding is a crucial component to a successful content marketing strategy. If you’re not already using these five strategies to help keep your content brand-centric, then start doing so today. If you don’t, you could be missing out big-time.
What other tips do YOU have for making your content more brand-centric? Let us know in the comments section below!