What exactly is branded content marketing and why do marketers need to care about it?
Defining Branded Content Marketing
One of the best recent explanations of branded content marketing we found, comes from a report by Forrester Research cited in Forbes . Forrester describes branded content as:
“Content that is developed or curated by a brand to provide added consumer value such as entertainment or education. It is designed to build brand consideration and affinity, not sell a product or service. It is not a paid ad, sponsorship, or product placement.”
This definition highlights a number of key aspects of this type of marketing:
- First, it’s the same kind of content that most people are creating and sharing on social media. The difference is that the brand is responsible for creating or collecting it and including some company branding.
- Second, like other content marketing, branded content has to entertain, educate or provide value to the customer. After all, there’s no point in putting out content based on what the brand wants; it’s what the customer needs and wants that is most important.
- Third, branded content is about raising awareness of the brand and not about sales and advertising. This is very important. Audiences are less and less interested in being sold to. Instead, they want useful and relevant information that helps them in their decision cycle.
The Importance of Trust
The relationship aspect is important, especially with so much content vying for consumers’ attention. As the Forbes article points out, building a relationship and even trust, is a key factor in good content marketing. Consumers trust recommendations from friends and family about particular brands way more than they trust ads. Branded content marketing can help gain that trust, but only if you produce the right kind of material.
Examples of Branded Content Marketing
Some companies are really nailing it. One of the big success of 2013 was Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches.
Available in three minute and six minute versions, the videos showed the distinction between how people saw themselves and how others saw them. Almost everyone who watched the videos – more than 60 million at the time of writing – had an emotional response. Dove successfully tapped into the universal issues of beauty and self-image to create lightly branded content that got attention. I fact, the campaign was so successful that it generated a flurry of spoofs and parodies. Below is just one of the hilarious renderings of this great video.
While many brands have used video to deliver branded content, it’s not the only successful medium. As Contently  points out, Microsoft has been telling stories about behind-the-scenes events online and Net-a-Porter has gone into print to tell their story.
Key Issues for Branded Content Marketing
So, now to that question of how to get featured on OMG! Insider. Here are three key best practices for brand marketers. First of all, one of the most significant issues in branded content marketing is that telling the story is the most important factor.
In branded content marketing, telling a story is the most important factor.
An article by the Content Marketing Institute  shows how Chipotle’s story about a scarecrow brought the company a huge amount of attention and changed the way that it promoted its business forever. It now focuses on storytelling rather than advertising.
Second, forget about selling to potential customers and instead concentrate on having a conversation and building a relationship to make a deeper connection with the people you want to reach. Long term, that will result in better conversions.
Third, tell your story across multiple media, not just in print but online via video, social sites, and customer magazines and publications. Branded content needs to be multi-platform so you connect with your audiences wherever they are. That also means ensuring that your branded content marketing is easy to navigate on mobile devices and allows people to easily share on social media.
Branded content marketing isn’t going away.
Contagious  sees branded content is becoming the new norm in connecting with customers, leaving old style uni-directional advertising behind. Consumers are hungry for great content, so you need to provide it. Brands that create interesting, relevant content enabled for mobile consumption and social sharing will be the winners in the battle for customer attention.
Brand Storytelling is vital to the success of your brand because of the connection-building power that it contains. Powerful connections = loyalty and trust, two things you cannot buy but have everything to do with the livelihood of your brand and your ROI. To learn more, click here.
Tweet this Like other content marketing, branded content has to entertain, educate or provide value to the customer.
Tweet this Branded content is about raising awareness of the brand and not about sales and advertising.