In the ever-evolving content marketing industry, there is a debate raging on the responsibility of brands and the content they produce. Is it to promote business and customer relationships?
There is no longer a clear line between what is an advertisement, what qualifies as news, and what is purely content for the benefit of the consumer.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “a brand publisher has solid processes and structures that allow its team to create the types of brand content needed in a repeatable and scalable way.”
The debate surrounds what qualifies as branded content, and the thin line dividing it with advertising and news.
Is content for reach, for business, or for customer trust?
When content became a part of the marketing conversation, brands and businesses attempted to create viral stories to gain customer reach. As the industry has evolved and customers have become accustom to content from brands, marketing experts recommend content should cater to the customers who the brand has already earned.
Business to Community contributor and content marketing enthusiast, Mael Roth takes a stance against virality. He advises not to “publish for reach, (instead) publish for those who could become your customers, those who could recommend you to customers or those who already are a might buy again.” His point: content that does not sell the brand or a product is not serving the business.
The other side of the debate, though, puts emphasis on publishing content that is not focused on selling products or services. Instead, the goal is to become an expert voice in the field which customers can trust to tell the truth about an industry, regardless of sales. This is where the publishing line gets murky for some content marketers.
Callum Borchers of the Boston Globe speaks to this dilemma, “In an era of on-demand video and ad-skipping software, businesses are eager to make commercial messages look like news in the eyes of readers and, more importantly, in the eyes of search engine algorithms.”
When creating a marketing strategy, a business should consider what side of the line to walk on and (most importantly) stick to it.
Quality, quantity and a brand
Shane Snow, cofounder of Contently, says, regardless of a brand’s goals when publishing content, “businesses are now in a position where they must publish to remain relevant — or be discovered at all.”
So if publishing content cannot be avoided in the marketing world, businesses and brands need to make sure the quality of the customer experience is there.
Rohan Ayyar of Entrepreneur points out, “the most successful content-marketing brands in the business are producing content that rivals that of traditional publishing houses, both in quantity and quality.”
He looks to brands such as Red Bull and LinkedIn to illustrate that exceptional content can produce big results for businesses. Customers return over and over again to their content and platforms to be engaged and entertained.
That is, after all, the ultimate content goal.