Content marketing, also known as brand journalism, is an emerging discipline that has exploded over the past few years thanks to digital and connective media.
Organizations such as Coca-Cola, HSBC, and Whole Foods are becoming publishers in their own right and engaging with audiences by creating and sharing rich content on their websites and blogs.
As with most trends, some skeptics have questioned whether content marketing is a temporary PR craze or a genuine shift in what really drives customer interest.
Here are a few customer-focused reasons why content marketing is here to stay:
1. People enjoy stories. It’s in our DNA. We want to hear interesting, funny and engaging stories about the brands and organizations we like. In fact, we often appreciate good stories even if we are not fans of a particular product or service. Content marketing favors storytelling. It enables brands to find interesting, fresh ways to discuss their offerings and share them with their customers.
2. There is too much noise. Audiences are inundated with sales pitches. The brand journalism approach is less aggressive. Instead of flooding customers with facts and figures about a brand, it gives organizations an outlet to share valuable or entertaining information that resembles what one might see in their favorite newspaper, magazine, or blog.
3. Audiences want to engage and share. Content marketing has staying power because it is in line with the natural human tendency to learn, question and converse. If you create cool content for your customers, they’ll share it with their friends on social media and become broadcasting towers for your brand.
4. Consumers associate positively with organizations that produce custom content. According to the Custom Content Council, 61 percent of consumers feel better about, and are more likely to purchase from, a company that delivers custom content. Also, 78 percent of consumers believe that organizations that produce such content are making an effort to build strong relationships.
5. People want to make informed decisions. Content marketing can showcase your product or service by providing customers with useful information, stories, and anecdotes related to a product, service, or simply the brand itself. Sharing links, videos, best practices, third-party recommendations, and curated content about your brand provides customers with the juice they need to make an informed decision.
[RELATED: Get advanced brand journalism tips from Mark Ragan and Jim Ylisela. Register now for Chicago or Denver!]
The bottom line is that content marketing is not going anywhere. As long as organizations continue to listen to and engage with their audiences, evaluate their content strategy, and adjust accordingly, this is one trend that will stick around for the long haul.
Maria Scopelliti is a communications advisor at the University of
Ottawa. She recently completed her master's thesis entitled "Gatekeepers
no More: Redefining the Roles of Journalism and PR in the Age of
Digital Media and Content Marketing." You can reach her on Twitter @MariaScope.