‘I’m with the brand’: Publishing and the rise of content marketing

By   Tim Inman 2 min read

Marketing has become personal. There have never been so many ways for brands to directly access their audiences. However, there have also never been so many ways for audiences to choose not to acknowledge marketing content. We can ‘skip’ adverts, mute the TV, or just plain ignore the plethora of blogs, videos, images and articles available. People are no longer passive spectators, they are choosing how and what media to interact with, and are exercising this power.

Brands are fighting for attention. This doesn’t just mean measuring the number of ‘eyeballs on content’. Now it’s about ‘likes’, ‘followers’, ‘subscribers’. It’s about being seen and seen again. Popularity drives distribution. To survive the crowded marketplace, a brand needs a loyal following that identifies with their brand image, and loves the content enough to want to share it with others. How do you attract the ever-wavering attention of an audience basking in the wealth of available content? Be consistent, and engage. Don’t let them forget you. Be their morning espresso.

It appears less about directly meeting consumer demands with goods; that comes later. Sometimes what a brand is selling is not even determinable in their content. What is evident is their ‘identity’, and this is what they are asking consumers to stake their share in. Consumers read, watch and listen to content that they identify with. They ‘subscribe’ when they no longer want to live without it, when it is part of how they see themselves and how they want to be seen by others. By following content, people are, in a sense, buying into a ‘way of life’, and perhaps (hoping for?) popularity by association. They are picking teams in the digital world. Essentially, when people share branded content, they’re building their online identity, and making a statement about who they are.

To be successful, content therefore needs to be easily accessible for it to take advantage of being shared. Take memes, infographics and videos; they are made to be spontaneously ‘clicked on’ and quick to digest. Branded content that lasts, like all enduring stories, needs a clear, consistent purpose and a relatable narrative arc that makes people care. It needs to offer the implicit hope of an improved way of life.

Successful brands stay close to their audiences, know what they like and dislike, and tailor content to the needs of each individual ‘follower’. One meaningful connection is stronger than many fleeting perusals. They prey on the predictability of human nature. If content connects deeply with just one person, who will then share it with their ‘friends’ and ‘followers’, it will be more effective than if the same number of people came across that same content without it being preceded by personal recommendation. It’s human nature; trust your friends.

Like all progress, we are testing the waters and experimenting with new realms of multi-media potential. At whitefox, we put the jigsaw together, embrace new digital possibilities, and in so doing, create personable identities through story. We ensure that content is too good to ignore. It’s not just seen, it’s seen again. People crave content that is as reliable as an old friend, but as exciting as a new lover, but there’s no need to choose between the two; we’ll still be surprising you long after the honeymoon period.