When 2020 came around, the Content and Design team at Translate By Humans had big plans, waiting to be executed! Fast-forward to March 2020, many of those plans were abruptly and indefinitely paused. This year has been unpredictable, but it’s also taught us to prepare for uncertainty and change.
As we juggled between planning our 2021 strategy and fulfilling our 2020 goals, we got some good news. Our Content Manager, Ruju Patel, was invited to attend this year’s Content Management Summit – Japan and Asia. After the event, Ruju was all set to brush away the post-Diwali blues with an in-house session specifically designed to help our team prepare for 2021.
So, here I am, keeping up with the tradition by sharing tips, examples and trends as passed down by our very own Content Manager! This article is meant for brands looking to increase customer engagement during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Creating Content that Matters
Whether you’re a B2B company or B2C company, some principals apply regardless. To create good content, start with the following questions:
Types of Content That Work Today
Most small to mid-sized brands often find themselves stuck in their comfort zone. Many brands don’t have a large enough employee strength, the budget or technical know-how to take on multichannel content marketing initiatives. B2B brands often feel that the types of content that work for B2C companies aren’t as fruitful for them. While this is true to a certain extent, let’s take a closer look at the content types that are helping companies relay their brand message.
Branded content is content created and distributed by the brand. The content, however, focuses on the brand’s values rather than its product or service offerings. Most businesses use branded content extensively before branching out to other means. However, not all get it right.
The aim of branded content should be to pick an aspect of your brand and weave a story around it. About 80% of the content should be aimed at brand building, and 20% at marketing communication. It’s essential to create content that your audience would like to willingly consume as opposed to traditional, disruptive ads.
Examples of Branded Content
IBM’s P-TECH Program: P-TECH is an innovative education model funded by IBM. This video of Justice tells the story of how P-TECH supported his love for technology and the hard work he put in to help achieve important goals and land a job at IBM by the age of 18! There’s little information about IBM or P-TECH, but Justice’s story allows the audience to understand the intent of the initiative.
Target’s Acceptance Letter Campaign (K-12 education funding): Target is a well-known department store in the US. Their campaign for K-12 education funding is a video made of a series of clips. The clips capture the reactions of graduating high school students and their families when they receive acceptance letters from their colleges of choice. There’s hardly any mention of the brand, but the emotions and values for which it stands are made amply clear.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
UGC is any form of content that is created and distributed by users of a particular product or service. UGC allows users to engage with the brand and spread the word organically to their followers on social media. For UGC to work, a large volume of users is needed. SMEs should leverage Facebook communities and set small milestones. It’s important to increase your brand’s reach before starting with a UGC strategy. A great way of driving a UGC strategy is to offer rewards or host giveaways.
Examples of UGC
Dunkin’ Donuts Selfie Walls: In 2018, Dunkin’ Donuts created selfie walls at their stores across India and asked customers to pose for a picture and tag Dunkin’ Donuts on social media to be featured. This helped increase the visibility manifold.
Airbnb Online Experiences: With the onset of the COVID 19 Pandemic and travel restrictions around the world, many Airbnb hosts could no longer rent out their homes or initiate any activities or experiences in person. Airbnb leveraged its technology platform to ensure its users; the hosts would continue to earn by moving experiences online. What followed was a video of clips recorded by hosts of the online experiences they offer.
This type of content is created by individuals with a large following on social media and other platforms whose views help influence their followers’ buying decisions. Influencer marketing may be paid if a brand chooses to partner with an influencer, or organic if the influencer receives a sample product or service and promotes it on their own. Hiring local influencers can help you reach out to your target audience in their native language, increasing credibility.
Examples of Influencer Content
Dunkin’ Donuts: In September 2020, Dunkin’ Donuts renamed their Cold Brew with whole milk and three pumps of caramel swirl as ‘The Charli‘ after 16-year-old Charli D’amelio, Tik Tok’s most-followed star with over 90 million followers. She had been seen with her signature Dunkin’ drink in several of her videos before Dunkin’ Donuts officially partnered with her. The launch of ‘The Charli’ led to a 57% increase in app downloads on launch day compared to the previous 90-day average.
The Tiered Approach to Content Strategy
Knowing how to strategically use the different types of content mentioned above is important. While they all serve a different purpose, combined together, they can help you achieve goals that may seem out of reach.
- The first step is to create awareness of your brand, not just your offerings through branded content but also what your brand stands for.
- Simultaneously, reach out to influencers that can help you build an audience. If your product or service is not already well-known, you will most likely need to establish a paid partnership with influencers. Ensure you pick people with a decent number of followers and ensure they can localise marketing messages for your target audience. This means being able to communicate in the local language.
- Once you have your desired number of followers, come up with ways to engage with them. Ensure you reward people who come up with exceptional UGC.
Finding Clarity in Chaos
While we’ve discussed the types of content and their application above, the event also introduced us to a couple of important business concepts that are shared below:
Advertising vs Storytelling
We’ve talked quite a bit about the shift from advertising to storytelling, but it’s easier said than done. Here is a quick look at what differentiates the two:
Heart and Mind Attributes
Defining a brand’s key attributes helps us in delivering what we’ve committed to. These attributes can be split into two – mind and heart. The mind attributes help customers understand their practical needs; they are factors that can be implemented. On the other hand, the heart attributes are the customer’s perception of the brand depending on their experience with the mind attributes.
Tips for the Year Ahead
Whether your brand uses different types of content or continues with what works best, here are some tips that will be helpful no matter what situation you’re in:
- Create a clear and achievable objective
- Create relevant content – think digital-first but with a regional connect. Translate and localise content as needed.
- Ensure content is personalised and promoted accordingly
- Make content educational – the audience should find novel value in the content you create
- Demonstrate you are the solution
- Ensure the content is authentic and has viral value
- Use a combo of product and brand narrative + influencer organic content
- Use new media choices – repurposed content using different mediums
- Measure content impact and ROI
- Avoid using numbers and statistics that often change, especially pandemic related
So this was our round-up of key takeaways from the 2020 Content Management Summit – Japan and Asia. With the world functioning very differently than it did a few months ago, we’re curious to know how brands like yours have adapted to this changing business environment. If your brand has taken on a new marketing approach recently, share it with us in the comments below!