In the beginning, when online marketing was merely a twinkle in the eye of the internet, gaining online exposure for your brand was straightforward enough.
If you knew what you were doing, a little bit of social media and journalist outreach was an effective strategy to engage with your potential audience. However, as we witness an increase in audiences far and wide consuming the majority of news and content online, it’s fair to say that the landscape has grown up.
Today, social media, blogs and other news portals are oversaturated with content on content on content. It’s becoming increasingly hard to be heard as a brand. As large corporations clock on to the benefits of online marketing, they’re storming into the marketplace with gigantic marketing budgets, campaigns and agencies. Subsequently everything else is drowned out and gaining exposure online as small to medium sized business suddenly becomes impossible.
The content marketing revolution
“An abundance of content online means the quality is decreasing.” I have heard this so many times. I would disagree. Why do people assume scarcity equals value? What this actually means is that in order to stand out against the noise, marketers are having to create unique and remarkable content that is more targeted and relevant for its audience than ever. More content means more opportunities for better quality. It’s just harder to find, and create.
But how can we do this? Content marketing campaigns, of course. Over the last few years, we’ve seen an evolution of the news, whereby there’s a mix of creative campaigns frequenting the headlines in place of traditional media tactics. Whereas branded news and stories dominated the columns in the past, we’re now seeing a shift towards creative marketing campaigns across the news.
Coming from a more traditional PR background, I essentially see this as the digital version of the offline PR stunt. Some maverick somewhere decided that they’d take the principles of PR – coming up with something compelling that will gain virality – and they executed it online. The difference is that digital presents the opportunity to be even more interactive with its audience, leading to additional marketing tactics, data capture and surveys, for example.
Spice it up with an influencer
As more marketeers catch wind of this, it’s almost become to go-to and we’re dealing with the same content oversaturation problem again. Therefore, in order to run a successful and effective content marketing campaign, we need to implement some sneaky alternative tactics.
You may be experts in what you do, but your audience won’t necessarily know that. Let’s be honest, the likelihood is that your brand doesn’t currently hold enough weight on it’s own, causing your content marketing efforts to flop. You need additional authority, and that’s where using influencers comes in.
Start by reaching out to other higher profile businesses in relevant industries to see if they’d provide comment. This may sound like a difficult task, yet you’d be surprised. Business leaders generally support positive exposure for themselves as individuals as well as their brand, and will be more than happy to comply, seasoning your piece with that essential authority.
It’s easier than you think to reach out to high profile experts via public or decentralised social media platforms such as Reddit or Twitter. Gaining comments from experts in their field in this manner not only helps add the weight to gain exposure, but also aids in the share potential, as these influencers have a huge audience on social media.
A easy way to ensure that people are going to talk about your topic is to make sure people are already talking about your topic. How? Before you start a content marketing campaign that’s relevant to your industry, think whether there are any ongoing controversial conversations, current trends or hot topics that you can piggyback to support your idea.
Sometimes this can be something as simple as national holidays, such as Christmas, Hanukkah or May the Fourth. On that note, pop media such as films and TV series’ gain a load of exposure during the times they are released and broadcast, so try to leech off that coverage as well.
A content marketing piece that is focused around current trends means outreach will also be easier, as you’ll already have a list of media and news outlets that are speaking about your topic ready to outreach with your content marketing piece.
Where shall I begin?
Tapping into influencers and trends is an opportunity to be creative. Sure, go ahead and try a combination of the above, but don’t be afraid of trying something totally off-piste.
One of the beauties of being a content marketer in a time of such an abundance of content is that it means there’s so many fantastic examples of successful creative pieces online already. Don’t just blindly carbon copy, but note the tactics used within these and don’t be afraid of taking inspiration from other ideas.
Reading industry relevant blogs, and using ideation tools such Buzzsumo and ‘Answer the public’ is recommended to get an idea of what already exists around certain topic areas.
I understand if you’re still wary of creating content that has had parallels to content that already has been covered. But don’t always try to be entirely novel in everything you do. Look at Wordsworth or Van Gogh; the best ideas come from inspiration from others, and there’s no reason why this can’t transfer into digital marketing too. I firmly believe that if something has had traction before then a new and innovative slant on, it will be picked up again.
Create something amazing that doesn’t shout louder over the noise, but is heard simply as it whispers it’s relevancy, as a unique and remarkable piece of content marketing.