Remember back when Game of Thrones had us all hooked on the seven kingdoms’ murderous escapades? At the height of the show’s popularity, a little social media company called Hootsuite created a brilliant piece of video content that went viral.
Entitled A Game of Social Thrones, the one-and-a-half-minute video mimicked the opening credits of the popular HBO show, but instead of seven kingdoms it cleverly swapped in seven social platforms battling head-to-head for supremacy in the social media sphere. Though it ended with a call to “unite your social kingdoms” displayed over the Hootsuite logo, the video was most definitely not advertising. In fact, it was a perfect example of content marketing: entertaining, engaging, shareable and memorable. And it quickly racked up over a million views.
We’ve all seen the eulogies for content marketing. Headlines have been decrying its death for years, despite the fact that content marketing has been an essential component of the marketing playbook since, well, pretty much the dawn of marketing time.
Documented examples of content marketing date back to 1732 in this Wikipedia entry, but the modern-day content marketing we all know ramped up to epic levels with the advent of search engines and social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. And it quickly became an essential way for businesses to attract, engage and convert audiences. (
This infographic by the Content Marketing Institute shows a more complete history of content marketing if you’re interested.
Content marketing has had a long and successful run because it works. According to Demand Metric, content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less. Further, 70% of people say they would rather get information about a company or learn something from an article or blog post than from an ad. And according to Animoto, 73% of consumers have been influenced by a brand’s social media content when making a purchase decision.
But if you want to be successful with content marketing, you need to invest in quality content. Today’s audiences are bombarded with a constant stream of content everywhere they look — and much of it is, frankly, rather awful; think click-baity titles, keyword-stuffed landing pages and sales pitches disguised as blog posts.
In order to achieve the results you’re looking for, your content needs to be better than good. It truly needs to stand out by being valuable, shareable, memorable, entertaining and directly related to your audience’s needs. It should also make use of storytelling devices to attract and retain your audience’s fleeting attention while delivering the kind of value that will keep them coming back for more.
So with all that in mind, here are seven reasons you should be investing in quality content for your website and social channels — now.
Telling a story can be up to 22 times more memorable than simply stating facts and figures, or features and benefits. Why? Because stories have characters and action and emotion, and all of these things light up our brains far more than stats and data. Weaving stories into your website content, social media posts and other marketing materials means it’s more likely your audience will remember your brand, especially when it’s time to make a purchase.
Your customers want to know that you get them; that you understand their needs and their wants, their concerns and their struggles. Content focused on helping your customers solve their problems demonstrates that you’re on the same page — whether you’re targeting businesses or appealing to consumers. Ultimately, your content should never really be about you; it should always be about your audience and their unique needs. By positioning yourself as the expert, you build trust, authority and credibility.
Is SEO on your list of traffic-driving strategies? Then you’ll need content, and a steady stream of it. Google favours fresh content as one of its ranking priorities — and not just any kind of content. The search engine prefers high-quality, in-depth and engaging content that matches searcher intent and needs. Translation: content that informs, entertains and solves problems for your audience. And content that audiences deem worthy of sharing with others.
Think about your favourite book or TV show. You can probably recite the plot to anyone who asks. Now think about that sales promotion you received in your inbox this morning. Or the annual report that showed up on our desk at work. Not so memorable, right? Great stories stick in our minds. We retell them and we act on them too. Stories engage our sense of empathy, and stimulate the production of oxytocin, that feel-good feeling that powers trust and action.
The beauty of digital media lies in its interactivity. And online content like blog and social media comments, polls and quiz responses put you directly in touch with your audience in a way that static content simply can’t. Inviting interaction is a quick and easy way to gage reactions, get feedback and really get to know who your customers are and what they’re looking for.
Most businesses know that it costs more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing ones. But if you want visitors to return to your website, you’ll need to give them a good reason to come back. A fresh blog post, a downloadable ebook, a video or podcast, or a carefully crafted social post are all great examples of content that brings return traffic to your site—again and again. And once you’ve got them hooked on your content, it becomes a lot easier to sell them on your products and services.
Sharing solutions, tips and advice is a good way to be genuinely helpful to your audience. Sure, it’s helpful to your business too, but it also adds to the good you’re already doing in the world by making your expertise accessible and widely available to others.
While you may not go the route of pop-culture tie-ins and viral videos, your kingdom for a content strategy that fits your goals and audience is a trade that will pay off. And that’s a success story you’ll never forget.
Interested in exploring how a content marketing strategy could benefit your organization or brand? Get in touch, we’d love to chat!