Traditional advertising — the slap-and-hope-it-sticks method of flat, pushed, one-way communication across print and electronic, at least in the developed markets — is, well, flickering like a struggling candle-flame does before dying down.
In fact, even across the addressable platforms, marketers have been facing big challenges – ad blockers, the challenges to cookies-based advertising, the generally bristling impatience with, even resentment for, pushed ads on one’s social media platforms, and the very short dismissal fuse for evident plugs in any kind of content.
That’s the one, single, key word. Content. Any broadcaster or publisher across platforms survives on creating useful, sticky, relevant content, which brings in the audiences and helps monetization, survival and growth. It’s been true since the days of the earliest media platforms, remains true today, and is now getting to be an ever bigger reality.
Look at the best video-driven Facebook and Youtube channels, for instance. Many boast of large audiences. That’s the reach they’re referring to. But the real yardstick of relevance and stickiness of the content lies in the engagement levels
Content marketing today has got to be about standing up to the plug-push temptation — actually shoving it into the ground as it were to push it out of sight so your content is as native as native can get — that’s the objective most marketers are looking to achieve: to attract audiences with relevant, useful content.
Look at the best video-driven Facebook and Youtube channels, for instance. Many boast of large audiences. That’s the reach they’re referring to. But the real yardstick of relevance and stickiness of the content lies in the engagement levels.
And engaging content is the single most important element, the absence of which is death for the content marketer’s efforts. Great content, on the other hand, obviously keeps audiences coming back. To engage not just once but multiple times. A sorted content marketing person has to not only provide the best content, but keep providing similarly great and even better content every successive time, giving the lie to the erroneous belief that only a mediocre person is at his or her best at all times.
Engagement and reach
It is rare to see the engagement of a channel exceed its reach, but in this context, the Facebook page of one remarkable content-driven offering for women, Glamrs, comes to mind. The first Indian makeup, beauty, style, fitness and lifestyle video platform for women, Glamrs provides exciting proof of the power of engrossing, useful, relevant and exquisitely created content that truly engages its audiences. And Glamrs has turned it into an art. Its Facebook page has a massive monthly reach of 25 million unique users, with over 35 million engagements (Likes, Comments, Shares).
What makes this even more remarkable is that around 95 to 97 percent of Glamrs’ reach and engagement on Facebook is organic. (Organic. On Facebook. Where organic reach is declining, and isn’t looking like it’ll pick up again; at least, not if FB algorithms have anything to do with it. Which they always will, to make sure brands have to end up paying them more for the same reach. But that’s another story.)
So, to come back to Glamrs, the fact that their content is so sticky and engaging gets to be an even bigger achievement because they cater an audience that belongs to the undoubtedly more demanding gender: women. Check it out here.
In the digital age, it’s all about finding and engaging relevant audiences. Finding them with engaging content, and keeping them engaged with a relentless flow of excellent content. Which gets them bringing in others to your platform.
Traditional marketers, particularly, need to get rid of the yoke of their traditional advertising thinking, and extricate their legs from its gigantic ball-and-chain.
For the new-age marketer, there are two ways of trying to get to your audiences. Your relevant audiences, that is. Both are through online and digital.
Use your research and try to reach the high footfall watering holes of your target audiences. Meaning, research, cast your content marketing net in likely spots, and hope to hit more than you miss. This is a cast-you-net approach. You catch some, you lose some.
Check out the biggest, the established and popular content-driven watering holes, ie channels your desired TGs frequent, determine the content fit for your brand personality and objectives, and shoot an arrow at the specific, near-captive audience there. Like… well, imagine, if you will, your content offerings entering the narrow outlet pipe of a funnel, to the point where it opens out and delivers a massive focussed audience who, like that loyal subject of Pascal’s famous experiment, have turned up through multiple devices and are as good as waiting there for their content meal. You won’t miss the audience for sure, except if the quality of your content lets your brand down.
I prefer Option Two.
Learn to step back
So if you’re trying to reach women, make a beeline for a great audience provider like a Glamrs, discuss your brand aspirations and requirements with them, brief them. And then, Mr Traditional Marketer, step back! Don’t ask for a conventional ad, which is more like a video boilerplate, at all. They won’t bastardise their content and lose their valuable audiences for one business alignment – or any number, for that matter – with you.
If you’re trying to reach women, make a beeline for a great audience provider like a Glamrs, discuss your brand aspirations and requirements with them, brief them. And then, Mr Traditional Marketer, step back!
They know when their audiences come on, what they respond to, what they like and what they don’t much care for. And they won’t give in to some enthusiastic youngster from your traditional maketing team baying for your logo in every frame, or visiting and meddling with the shoot. Let the channel owners — their content team, that is — ideate, evaluate, script, create and shoot, master and deliver the video content, across its massive, relevant and engaged audience.
Digital content marketing is not about advertising, or allowing the content to at all look like advertising. It has to be really useful and subtle in the main telling of the story. Or the target audience will reject it. Branded content is visible to the discerning consumer, and each and every individual is more than a discerning consumer today. So if you’ve decided to approach the owner of a major YouTube channel or Facebook Page, sure, give them the most detailed download of the needs of your brand, and then step back so the content team there can design and create the content for you, without being forced to make it look like an ad. The channel owner has amassed and keeps engaged a huge, eminently desirable audience, and he knows what makes his audience engage with all his content. Because content marketing begins and ends with getting large audiences to actively engage with the content.
So it’s all about engaging content.
While your media buyer-marketer must definitely seek out the biggest watering holes of your desired TGs, s/he must keep a consumer’s eye on the quality and relevance of content that’s subtle, but also isn’t the ‘passive posting’ kind, to avoid making the blunder of shooting out vapid vanilla broadcast-style advertising comms across Facebook. Because slinging non-engaging, non-interactive, uni-dimensional content at highly — and instantly — selective and critical social media audiences on that largest of platforms, Facebook, is hara kiri. For they will damn your irrelevant content as spam and not only kick your brand several notches down in their estimation but also instinctively move to banish it from their feeds forever. Like a shoot at sight, if you will.
Your enthusiastic ‘where’s-my-logo-in-that-frame?’ marketing aide doesn’t want that.
Marketing on Digital? Trample your traditional advertising hat into the dust. For the ever increasingly demanding and choosy digital audiences, only engaging content will do.