Coming up with fresh content can be difficult, which is why it’s easy for marketers to fall into the trap of looking through previous work for inspiration. This rinse-and-repeat approach leads to predictable content, and predictability is what pushes audiences to look elsewhere for something more original.
The most competitive brands have the courage to look elsewhere for ideas. It’s not easy — especially when it needs to be done at scale — but here are three ways to ensure you’re approaching content creation from an angle that can pay off in a big way.
One way to breathe new life into your content strategy is to capitalize on the popularity of trending news stories. Is there a new finding or event that affects your target audience? These are opportunities to connect your content to a much larger story and amplify your marketing efforts.
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A great example is Oreo’s now infamous “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet. The cookie company seized the opportunity presented by Super Bowl XLVII’s power outage with a clever tweet about its snacks still being enjoyable without electricity, and the newsjacking paid off: In less than 24 hours, the post generated nearly 15,000 retweets and more than 20,000 likes on Facebook.
Notice that the best newsjacking opportunities allow brands to add relevance to the story, which is why a snack company saw such an incredible response during a sporting event. Another way brands can add relevance to trending stories is to localize the subject matter. For example, my team at Fractl helped real estate company Movoto map out the wealthiest people within the United States. The innate regional ego bait helped the project generate more than one million on-site views along with 140,000 social shares and 130 press mentions.
Push the envelope with controversial content.
Although striking up controversy might seem ill-advised, polarizing ideas work because they trigger an emotional response. Audiences feel encouraged to click, read and share your content because they have an opinion — and they want the rest of the internet to know about it.
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However, this strategy only works when the content ties back to your brand and its services. Below are two different approaches to controversial content along with examples that show how each approach can positively relate back to a brand:
- Disprove an assumption: This content typically forces audiences to rethink a common belief. Consider the Ad Council’s incredibly successful “Love Has No Labels” PSA. The organization’s mission is to inspire “ongoing dialogue, engagement and action around significant public issues,” and the video took that message to heart when it used an X-ray machine to disprove subconscious prejudices about relationships. Connecting the theme to tolerance helped the controversial clip become the second most-viewed community and activism campaign of all time.
- Make a taboo subject more approachable: Another thing successful controversial content does well is offer a different look at a familiar subject. Discussions on body image, for example, aren’t always easy. To make the subject matter relatable to a much larger audience, Fractl helped Bulimia.com reimagine superheroes with more realistic body types. When the new images were paired with the originals, the stark contrast offered a new way to discuss body issues — particularly for men. In just nine days, the campaign earned more than 200 pickups and nearly 90,000 social shares in 20 U.S. states and 25 countries.
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Don’t assume complexity is boring.
Establishing yourself as a thought leader within your industry is incredibly valuable, but it doesn’t mean your content needs to be lengthy and explain every last detail of something — that's a surefire way to lose someone’s attention. Instead, rework complex ideas for your audience so that they are much more easily understood — particularly if you’re in a more complex vertical like finance or tech.
A great example is this campaign that visualizes the virtual storage space of an iPhone into something more tangible: storage boxes. Someone might not understand how vast 128GB of storage is, but they’ll have a better idea when it’s equated to 12,800 storage boxes stacked with paper stretched more than three miles. This helps make something like data storage a bit more engaging — and appeal to a an audience beyond those working in the nearest Apple store.
Unengaging content will never support your marketing goals, particularly because today’s consumers have little interest in anything that doesn’t address their immediate needs. Whether you choose to look towards newsrooms for inspiration or opt for a formula that’s a little less vanilla, these techniques will inspire you to think outside the box — and ultimately create something that will reach a much larger audience.