Generating ideas for your content marketing strategy can be extremely tough. It gets even harder when you focus so much on your brand goals that you get tunnel vision. Fortunately, there are plenty of brands out there doing an amazing job with content marketing and getting great results.
You should totally steal from them. Really.
Think of it as evolution rather than imitation. You see what works for them, and try to put your own twist on it. As you measure results, you refine your campaigns over time to become a better version more-suited for your unique branding and goals. If you’re doing it right, someone will steal from you someday.
To get you inspired by others’ inspiration, here are five amazing content marketing campaign strategies that are completely worth ripping off.
Focus on Storytelling and Client Successes
Some content fails to hit the mark because it’s too deeply embedded within the brand. It lacks a human touch, and people may therefore end up trusting the messages less.
To come across as more authentic, pull back. Think less about your brand or product and more about what your particular solution does. Or, focus on a pain point it solves.
An amazingly creative example of this is the Fixodent video “Saving Aslan”. It covers the struggles of a gorgeous white lion who suffered from a loss of his canine. To save the lion and ensure he enjoys a good quality of life, Fixodent sponsored wildlife activists efforts to perform surgery on the lion.
The video hits tons of high points: emotion, gorgeous animals, environmental advocacy, people performing powerful acts of kindness, redemption. It has all of the ingredients to go viral, and it communicates a parallel message to the branding without beating you over the head with it.
Another great example comes from REI. It’s Co-Op Journal site highlights feats and lifestyles for people who live to have outdoor adventures. The stories are human-focused and promise to show readers things they’ve never seen before: a powerful recipe to draw clicks. People get inspired, they learn a lesson, and they get to learn about new heroes worth keeping track of.
You don’t have to be quite as ambitious as these two brands to find your own version of storytelling success. Just take a step back to focus on your clients or the difference you make in the world.
Tell a great story. Highlight great things happening in your industry. Demonstrate what your philosophy or business approach can do. Clicks will naturally follow.
Crowdsourcing is an brilliant way to win engagement, improve the appeal of your content, and develop relationships with your audience.
Airbnb, for instance, combines storytelling with crowdsourcing. They let their own user base tell them what makes the platform special, and then they add a layer of gloss to the story so that it fits their brand standards. The stories end up coming across as more authentic and interesting as a result.
Another option for crowdsourcing is to let your own audience decide on your next campaign. Makeup brand Bobbi Brown allowed its social community to vote on the lipstick shades they would bring out of retirement.
Coca Cola let people submit entire marketing campaign ideas for a slew of their campaigns.
You don’t have to have huge audiences to get this type of traction, though. Simply let people feel like they are participating in something and that their voice matters.
A stellar example would be to highlight a particular community or organization through crowd input. Or, you could donate to charity and let people decide on their favorite cause. Campaign strategies like these build momentum as they continue and have huge payoffs when people see their own ideas come to life.
Be Quirky, Go Viral
For a time, brands tried oh-so-hard to be weird with mixed results.
Yet, weird, humorous and unusual content often gets the most attention through social channels.
The key to success with this strategy is to approach content like a normal social user would. Think about what would be genuinely be funny, intriguing, or at very least worth a closer look. Let go of your professionalism (but don’t be offensive!), and see what happens when you let your own interests or weird ideas come to life.
Denny’s has found huge success with the strategy. Quirky posts like this Twitter photo earn tons of attention and retweets. They barely have anything to do with a traditional ad goal, but they get people interacting.
An auteur-type strategy works especially well if your content can find appeal within a niche community. Arby’s use of packaging and branded imagery to create artistic references to video games, anime, and popular pop culture franchises has been a huge hit with online communities.
People go online for good art and entertaining content, after all. Give them something they would love to see, but keep your brand visible so that people understand a connection is there.
Create a Subtly Branded Publication to Build Trust
Not to give you whiplash, but this strategy is in many ways the opposite of the above one. Rather than offering amusing or beautiful diversions, your content can become one of the most trusted and valued resources among your audiences.
Turbotax company Intuit offers a great example. Taxes and financing are a dense subject not too many people feel comfortable with. A handy blog that answers their questions and defines key concepts is therefore likely to bring them a sigh of relief.
American Express’s small business blog expands on this concept even further. In addition to advice and introductory information, they provide news, highlight success stories, and offer opinions on important matters in the small business community.
The true mark of success for these blogs is that people will readily link to them and click on them in search results without bracing themselves for an ad pitch. Provide value. Satisfy your audience’s needs. If you can, they will trust you wholeheartedly.
Collaborate With Micro-Influencers
Now is the time to stop ignoring micro-influencers.
Chances are almost 100% that there is someone in your field with more followers and perceived authority than you. Your job is to locate these influencers and find some way to collaborate with them.
A “collaboration” can be something as simple as a request to share your content or review something you send them. A subtle way to do this is to include a quote or reference to the person in a piece of content and tag them when promoting the content on social media.
Collaboration can go much deeper than that, though. Many makeup companies are finding huge success by partnering with YouTube channels that offer makeup tips and reviews, for instance.
Makeup brand MAC even asked top beauty influencers to come up with unique shades and product types related to their content channels. The brands get to share exposure and motivate the audiences of the channels, and the influencers get to feel like they are now a part of the products they review and interact with.
Just make sure to follow best practices for influencer marketing campaigns. The most important is to align your campaign to your goals and prioritize things like conversions over vanity metrics.
Steal to Succeed
Every business idea is an iteration on something that came before it, and that includes content marketing strategies. By using the above ideas or looking to the examples to come up with your own, you can branch out and try new things.
Well, they’ll be new to you at least!