We love content marketing here at SiteVisibility – it’s core to our integrated strategies and it can be one of the most fruitful components of digital marketing when it’s done correctly. Although we all have examples of seeing it done well, we probably have even more of it done less well with the market becoming extremely saturated in recent years. However, among all the noise we have seen some truly great content marketing campaigns over the last few years. In this post, I wanted to pick out some of my favourite campaigns over the last few years including BuzzFeed, Paddy Power, Bernie Sanders and GoPro and provide you with some actionable tips that you can take into your content marketing campaigns in 2017 from each one.
BuzzFeed Tasty Gives People What They Want, How They Want It
BuzzFeed is like the Dalai Lama of viral content marketing. Their output often consists of largely substance-thin but shareable content that resonates with their audience. Fittingly, the actual Dalai Lama seems to employ the same principles and gets engagement levels that most brands would kill for:
I could have chosen any aspect of BuzzFeed’s content output really as it all works but I’ve gone with their food section: Tasty. The now signature top-down, sped up, 90(ish) second videos of food that seem designed primarily to make you fat but also to have a damn good time while doing it, first launched in July 2015 and as of March 2017 have 82.6m Facebook Followers. The UK focused offshoot, Proper Tasty was launched in December 2015 and currently has just below 16m followers. Both have engagement figures that are astronomical.
Look at these Egg Cup & Bacon Soldiers:
At the time of writing this video is roughly three weeks old and it’s had 40m views, 120,000 likes, 620,000 shares and nearly 40,000 comments… Three weeks. To put that in context, Spain has a population of around 45m, and that’s an actual country. Although this is one of their better performing posts, the others all get over 10m views and other engagements in the tens, if not hundreds of thousands. This is not an accident.
Why BuzzFeed’s Content Marketing Works
Tasty and Proper Tasty work so well on Facebook because they were designed to work well on Facebook. The content itself is good, no question but I don’t think it would work as well were it not tailored to fit with the way people use the platform:
- The videos are square: This is important. Landscape videos don’t work well on phones that are being held vertically. The square video maximises screen real estate. When you’re scrolling you can’t miss it and more importantly, you don’t have to do anything to get the content you want. It’s just there.
- It’s eye catching: The fresh ingredients, the sped up footage, the increased colour contrast and the fundamentally attractive food all make you want to keep watching. Speeding up the footage allows you to see enough in the brief seconds when you scroll past.
- They’re not too long: Millenials eh??All short attention spans and throwaway fads… Regardless of whether you agree with this, we know for a fact that attention spans online are short, very short. By keeping their content under 90 seconds, and in many cases under 60, users can see everything without getting bored.
- They don’t demand a click: Facebook is saturated in clickbait-y nonsense (and you could rightly argue that BuzzFeed themselves must shoulder a massive portion of blame for that) but these videos are successful as they don’t demand anything from the user. You can get everything you need from it without having to click through to the recipe. Of course, BuzzFeed wants the visit for its revenue, but I feel like they’re giving the choice back to the users – something which should be applauded.
- They understand the algorithms well: We know that Facebook favours content which keeps the user engaged and more importantly, on Facebook. All of the previous points combine to make the algorithm actively want to promote the content which gives users value, but doesn’t necessarily take them away from the platform.
Tailor your content for different platforms. In this instance, BuzzFeed have taken advantage of Facebook’s autoplay feature and optimised their content for the platform and the results speak for themselves. When you’re creating content, create multiple versions of the same thing. We know that correctly sized images work well on Twitter, and that as an inherently aspirational place, images and video that portray a lifestyle perform well on Instagram. This approach works so well that BuzzFeed themselves have rolled it out across other niches such as Nifty.
Paddy Power ‘Chop Down’ the Amazon Rainforest & Create a Storm
A bit of background: in the summer of 2014, England’s national football team boarded a plane to Brazil to play in the World Cup. The largest sporting event in the world, staged in the most football-mad country in the world promised to be great. It was a disaster. England were, are still are, terrible at football.
Irish betting giant Paddy Power are certainly no strangers to controversy and they got on board with their #BrazilNuts campaign. This post in particular got the ball rolling:
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) June 7, 2014
Now as you might be able to guess, cutting down the Amazon rainforest so a betting site can make some money as a nation collectively has its hopes built up and then predictably destroyed did not go down well.
As many people called out the images as being fake, many more also displayed the internet stereotype of permanent outrage and slacktivism. Paddy Power themselves didn’t help things by continuing the charade and insisting they were real. National newspapers, environmental activists and even photoshop experts weighed in with their opinions on the images – with most concluding they were legit.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and it turns out the images were, of course, fake. It turns out they were created in conjunction with Greenpeace to highlight the scale of deforestation. You can read the whole post here but in short, they used excellent marketing combined with a frankly ridiculous amount of technology to create the image. I really do recommend you read it, if only for the work and tech involved in the 3 week process of making the image. Or you could watch this 2 minute video below that explains it:
Why this is fantastic content marketing
Good content marketing should aim to address at least one of these requirements:
I’m also going to add that it should aim to foster debate or discussion (I would argue that sharing counts as discussion as the user is actively inviting engagement from their peers). In this instance Paddy Power knew that excrement was going to hit the fan but they were a) ready for it and b) believed it was justified.
This piece of content marketing created a huge discussion in national media and highlighted an important issue while at the same time getting coverage for their brand. It actually did this twice, firstly during the campaign itself, and secondarily through the reveal of it being fake. They were willing to weather the storm of bad press, publicity and brand perception for the overall good. The results speak for themselves:
- 35 million Twitter impressions in 48 hours
- Thousands of referral visits to Greenpeace
Brands shouldn’t be afraid to create controversy as long as it is justified and a plan is put in place to deal with it. Many brands understandably want to play it safe and avoid making a fuss. While this is fine, it shouldn’t be a barrier to undertaking what can become great content marketing campaigns.
Clearly there’s a fine line to be drawn and brands often get it wrong but I really believe that the limits should be pushed somewhat. The aforementioned Paddy Power are great at this, as are PornHub. Doritos ‘launched’ a range of rainbow crisps in support of LGBT rights, something which was very dividing, especially in the US. Supermarket chain Target in the US ran their #takepride campaign, again to very mixed reactions.
Take risks and challenge the norm, especially if you believe in what you’re saying. Just don’t create controversy for controversy’s sake. Nobody likes people who do that…
Bernie Sanders: The 75 Year Old Master of Content Marketing
As the 2016 US Elections remain controversial, I’m going to take political allegiances and leanings out of it and examine the campaign of a relatively old man who nobody had really heard of and the senator of Vermont, a state that is one of the smallest yet healthiest, happiest, safest, and most beautiful in the US. So, how did this senator come from relative obscurity to becoming the figurehead of one of the more notable American political movements in recent memory? Simple, it was good content marketing.
I feel Bernie Sanders resonated with his audience (that is, minorities, the younger generation and more loosely speaking, progressives) as he comes across as authoritative and educated, but more importantly as genuine and trustworthy. People want to engage with people who they feel believe the things they do and that they trust. This is especially true in the world of politics were ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ are as common as a rainy day in the UK.
Bernie Sanders is different, his social feeds act as his content marketing channels and he often posts content from 3rd parties, in the process becoming a significant content curator too. The reason he’s an example of good content marketing is that he creates and shares content that talks directly to his audience.
Although you have to create content that talks to your audience, that’s not enough on its own. Pretty much every brand does that. To be really successful, you have to get your timing right. Bernie Sanders shot to prominence because he was able to capitalise on the perfect storm of conditions (which as of course was Donald Trump). And that’s he suddenly he found himself in the spotlight during the race to be the Democratic candidate against none other than Hillary Clinton.
As it was coming to Barack Obama’s time to vacate The White House, both parties started their search for a candidate to take over the helm. Both parties had their establishment figures: Hillary for the Dems and Ted Cruz for the Republicans and both sides probably expected relatively easy wins.
However, both sides also had their outsiders buoyed by a rejection of mainstream politics and also Rus… no I won’t say that. Bernie Sanders was able to capitalise on this apathy on his side by speaking directly to people about issues such as wealth inequality, health insurance, minority rights and even some very unpopular wars. Hillary, seen as the darling of Wall St. wasn’t able to compete (interestingly, Donald Trump also went in hard on this and spoke to the swathes of people in the Rust Belt whose heavy industry had been decimated).
Now, some of you may have noticed that Bernie Sanders is not currently the President of the United States, nor was he the Democratic nominee. The reasons for this are both long and very controversial with suggestions of rigging the vote for Hillary, so I’m not going to go into them here but I’m am going to argue that Bernie Sanders’ content marketing campaign was a success, despite the fact he ultimately lost.
The reason why I’m arguing this is even now, this man still gets huge traction on social media. His posts get tens of thousands of interactions, he still writes long form content like this, thousands of people still organise grassroots rallies and campaigns based on his principles, and ultimately he’s still a voice for many on the left of US politics. I’d call that success.
To put it simply, Bernie Sanders spoke directly to the swathes of apathetic and disinterested interested voters and became the leader they didn’t know they needed. It’s often argued that millennials in the US tend not to associate with a specific party rather than individuals. This could explain his success. He was honest, trustworthy and he resonates.
Position yourselves as a brand that has a conscience, is honest and speaks directly to people. Then, create content marketing campaigns that take advantage of favourable conditions. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. For example, the Dove Real Women campaign was born out of a rejection of mainstream media ideas about female beauty. Uber came along and revolutionised the taxi industry by offering a better and cheaper service; replacing one that we didn’t know was inadequate… until we saw that it was.
The same is true of Facebook. In the mid-2000s, MySpace was the social media top dog. Then Facebook came along and changed things overnight by offering the type of user experience and features we didn’t know we could have, or we would want.
Speaking of capitalising on your moment…
GoPro Launches the Hero 5 Range
Disclaimer: I’m a big fan of GoPro products and their whole approach to marketing.
For those of you who don’t know, GoPro are an American company that make a range of small, high quality action cameras that are used by everyone from extreme sports athletes to professional filmmakers, and everyone in between.
They’re now also marketed heavily to the ‘lifestyle’ demographic that are seen as rejecting some aspects of modern life and embracing nature and outdoor lifestyles… but still want to let everyone know they’re rejecting the modern world by posting it on social media.
Here’s the launch video for the Hero 5 range of cameras, drones and peripherals:
I also like these comments…
These comments allude to what is great about GoPro’s marketing; they sell a lifestyle that people want. Despite the humorous nature of those examples, the sales figures suggest it’s working. To take it one step further, they regularly create content using footage that their customers have filmed. No actors, no directors, just real people using the product they’ve created as part of the lifestyle they’re selling. Here are some examples:
Why It’s Great
Although the content is clearly excellent anyway and will almost certainly have had some editing, it’s fundamentally real. They credit the person who took the photo/video and share it far and wide so it reinforces the lifestyle they’re selling. In previous points I’ve mentioned the need for brands to be honest and trustworthy, and this is the perfect example.
It’s not a Nike advert of some otherworldly athlete like Cristiano Ronaldo, and it’s not a Dior advert featuring Kate Moss, it’s relatable. And what’s more, it’s free! Minimal effort is required from GoPro’s marketing department for their ongoing content marketing efforts.
They’ve also capitalised on the rise of social media and made the two intrinsically linked. Their first digital camera was released in 2006, we didn’t have Instagram or Twitter yet, but Facebook was about to explode.
Traditional camera brands like Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Pentax etc. have been around for many years longer but none of them seized the moment like GoPro to utilise social media. Looking back, it’s obvious, they all make ‘tools’ that are perfect for it, but none saw it. Nikon for example have been running their annual photo contest for nearly 50 years. Canon run monthly contests. Both however are for the keen enthusiast photographer with several hundred (or thousands) of pounds’ worth of equipment and a lifetime of honing their skills. It’s unattainable for a lot of people.
Interestingly, Nikon and Sony have made moves in the action cam market but considering all products are known as GoPros, (the same way vacuum cleaners are referred to as Hoovers) they’re going to have their work cut out.
Involve your audience and your brand advocates within your marketing efforts. Don’t simply speak at them, speak with them and position yourself as part of their lifestyle or consciousness. By combining the emerging technology of social media with the same developments of camera tech, GoPro have become part of both the world they market to and the lifestyle they advocate.
Improving Your Content Marketing in 2017
To recap, consider the following when you’re creating your next content marketing campaigns:
- Make sure you market effectively across all platforms and tailor your content for each
- Don’t be afraid of creating controversy or stimulating debate
- Know your audience, capitalise on your opportunities and if they don’t exist, make them.
- Become part of your audiences’ consciousness. Don’t just market to them, market with them to jointly create a narrative. Utilise user generated content where possible because you need to…
- Be real, be honest and be trustworthy.
If you’d like help with any of your content marketing, our team would be happy to help out. Give us a call on 01273 733433 or contact us using the form below: