Think Of Your Brand In The Context Of Editorial Publishing "Storytelling"
Branded online content has come a long way over the years, rising from a virtual unknown just a decade ago to become one of the holy grails of modern digital marketing.
For all the awareness around the importance of content, oftentimes brands fail to capitalize on it by producing content that never gets out of the gate — that is, not maximizing engagement with their intended audiences. It’s almost like the term “branded” is being taken too literally: Companies will churn out content on a regular basis but will fill it with much too much promotion and not enough of a story to actually engage the consumer.
In my sector of marketing — the branded photo industry — examples of overly branded content are everywhere. Say a photographer is offering a special occasion sitting and writes a blog article to promote it. All too often, the article becomes little more than a blatant advertisement for sales, only discussing their services and what to expect, and not a piece of interesting content that readers will take time out of their day to read, enjoy and share with others.
For example, take the luxury hospitality industry — examples of overly branded content are everywhere. As a more engaging alternative to this approach, why not create a personal spotlight on the Executive Chef? It could feature unique recipes that his/her mother passed down and might still be in use in the kitchen today, and to connect back to the menu, the ending could say something like, “And if you don’t feel like cooking, here is our menu and we can do it all for you.”
It takes on the style of editorial content, much like you’d find in a magazine, and directly aligns with the findings of countless content marketers in recent years. The best type of content, as I’ve seen firsthand with our clients within hospitality, connects on a human level, be it by evoking emotions, providing something informative, or coinciding with a current online trend. In a recent study by Moz, for example, it was found that the highest-performing online content, in terms of shares and referring links, was either opinion-based editorial content (evoking emotion) or research-backed content (providing something informative).
Circling back to the dinner menu example with this frame of logic, there are many ways of promoting the restaurant without focusing solely on the product itself. One path could be to interview the sommelier and get his/her take on the best varietals of the year, wines to bring to a party, up-and-coming wine regions, and a few great menu pairings. Or better yet, pick an exclusive ingredient on the menu (as we once did with white truffles) and tell the story of how it’s sourced, why it’s so sought after, and how it’s best prepared (ours turned into a fascinating story about truffle hunters with sniffing pigs, shipping truffles across international borders, and the thousands of dollars chefs will pay for exceptional truffles).
All these ideas indirectly promote the dinner menu, but more importantly, also share an element of human interest. As consumers, even with our favorite brands, most of us are too inundated with online content to care about anything that doesn't truly catch our attention. It’s the brands that can tap into editorial storytelling, something the vast majority of us still make time for, that can truly give wings to their content and reach thousands of new consumers organically.