Brands are spending millions of dollars and countless hours producing content in an effort to vie for their customer’s attention. According to a study by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, B2C companies currently spend about a quarter of their budget on content marketing and 60% have plans to increase those budgets next year.
While brands should be applauded for shifting from delivering ads to delivering valuable content, that approach only goes so far, especially when you’re trying to introduce yourself to new customers.
Your customer is spending the majority of their time interacting with other people across a variety of social networks. What they’re not doing is interacting with your brand, especially with social networks (like Facebook) making it more difficult for them to even see your content.
Social@Ogilvy reported in February that Facebook’s organic reach is as low as 2% for big brands reaching over 500,000 fans.
So how do you, the brand, tap into your customer’s social stream? The answer is simple: People-powered content.
Secret #1: Make Your Customer a Part of Your Brand Story
Your customer has become a vocal participant in the story of your brand and they have the platforms they need and the audience you want to deliver your message. Social channels are filled with news of purchases, recipes, home projects, vacations and more, each rich with information on the products and services used to make these experiences a success.
It’s certainly become an integral part of my purchase decisions.
A Yumbox lunch box for my daughter after seeing an Instagram photo from my favorite health food blogger, Skinnytaste:
I have sandals from a blog post by Love, Taza:
A trip planned to Thailand almost entirely from DesignLoveFest’s itinerary:
These are big and small purchases being influenced by the people I listen to and follow online. In many cases, I wasn’t even aware of the brands before I saw them in these posts. It’s amazing how a tiny piece of content could take me through the whole purchase funnel.
Secret #2: People Want to Hear Stories From People They Trust
So why is people-powered content so much more powerful than branded content?
It’s because people relate to other people and they want to read about the stories of their lives. They’re just as interested in Taza’s trip to the beach as they are in the sandals she’s wearing, and it’s those stories that draw readers in. On top of that, every product mentioned is given a human layer, which makes it more relatable.
With the perfect mix of aspiration and attainability, these posts are a gold mine for brands looking to get in front of the right audience.
As you’re following people online, you build up a level of trust over time. They share the same aesthetic taste as you or have the same value system. You find people that you rely on for different aspects of your life. The foodie friend that gives you restaurant recommendations may be different than the fashionable one that has great taste in clothes or the mom that cares as much as you do about feeding her family healthy foods.
We find people we relate to and give them permission to enter our social streams, which is where every brand wants to be.
Secret #3: Create People-Powered Content That Works for Your Brand
Great people-powered content lives at the intersection of a brand’s story, the storyteller’s point of view, and the needs and wants of your target audience.
Sound hard? It’s not. In fact, it’s easier than you think. Here’s how you do it: create a list for each of these 3 circles and answer some of these thought-starter questions:
What does your target audience need/want?
- Look at your market research to see what their interests are both inside and outside of your particular category (Foodies tend to like to travel, skiers may also be into running or cars).
- Social listening will help identify topics and trends they are naturally conversing about
- Look at search terms to see what they are actively searching for
- Can you find white space where they are expressing a need but it’s not being met with enough content?
What is your brand’s story?
- Think about your history and heritage.
- What brand attributes are important to you – innovation, design, utility?
- What expertise do you have in-house?
- What’s your brand voice – educational, funny, provocative?
What topics do these influencers cover?
- Read their social posts to see what they naturally talk about and what their readers are talking about with them.
- In what areas are they subject matter experts?
- Do they have a personal experience that could be relatable for your audience?
- What’s their tone of voice – informal, educational, funny?
Now look at where these 3 circles intersect and what the overlapping themes are. These are the areas that you can create content around that will be of value to your audience, help to tell your brand story, and will feel natural coming from an influencer’s point of view.
Shane Co. Collaborates With Influencer To Create Content People Want
Let’s take the example of the independent jeweler, Shane Co.
They wanted to build awareness around their wide array of on-trend jewelry and reach a more fashion-focused consumer. They found that this customer loved to mix and match her wardrobe options and often paired casual attire with dressier accessories.
Focusing on pearls, the birthstone for the month of June, they collaborated with influencers to put a fresh spin on this classic gem. Each fashion influencer created a variety of styles to inspire their readers like Love, Olia, did in this post.
This was a natural way for her to weave the brand into content that brought value to her readers while also strengthening the perception of Shane Co. as a modern jewelry company.
Try It. It Works.
Using this exercise will help inform your strategy to yield the most impactful people-powered content. When done right, it’s a win/win. Collaborate with the people that your customers are listening to, tell your brand’s story, and add value to the conversation.