Back in May, part 1 of this exclusive series rounded up just some of the brands we think are doing content marketing right. We talked you through the strategy of some big names like Air BnB, Carling and General Electric.
In the last couple of months, we’ve come across even more examples of brands using content to engage audiences, promote their brand and provide something of genuine value in a way that’s completely different and unique – here are some of our favourites. We hope it helps to inspire your future content marketing!
Microsoft Stories is basically a content marketing platform from the software giant, which specialises in long-form, magazine-style content. The platform came about in 2013 after they couldn’t find a bite from a journalist on a story – so they decided to take matters into their own hands.
Today, the Microsoft Stories platform still only employs the original five writers. Unlike other platforms like LinkedIn or BuzzFeed, they don’t put out paid advertisements or sponsored content. In fact, the whole operation runs much more like a newspaper – they even have lead times of around 4-8 weeks – relatively unheard of in digital journalism.
So what can we learn from Microsoft Stories? Sometimes, taking the time, budget and effort to put together a long and thoroughly researched piece of content works – Microsoft Stories are often picked by national news outlets and shared in a way that some other big brands can only dream of. You might not have the time or budget to take it to the same extreme or do this with every single piece of content, but Microsoft is a living example of what happens when you do.
As camera equipment designed to capture high-speed adventure footage, you’d expect GoPro to have some good content to fall back on, and they don’t disappoint. A self-hosted video channel contains slickly edited videos of user-generated content in a range of pursuits to which the GoPro cameras are suited, from surfing and kayaking to sky-diving and bungee jumping. These videos manage to drum up excitement and wanderlust in consumers, whilst also demonstrating what the product does best.
The lesson? Recognise what you’re good at, and capitalise on it. If GoPro tried to create beautiful long-form content like Microsoft, it probably wouldn’t work, because it’s not what their product is about. Adrenaline-packed footage with a sense of adventure? That’s more like it.
On paper, McDonald’s should have a hard time creating content. As arguably the world’s most famous junk food chain, they’ve come under a lot of fire in the past for poor quality ethics and questionable cuisine (remember Supersize Me, anyone?)
But McDonalds Canada has found a way to use this situation to its advantage. A recent campaign aimed to answer its customers’ questions about McDonald’s food through an online Q&A portal – and, as you can imagine, not every question pitched McDonald’s in a favourable light. By the end of the campaign, 10,000 questions had been answered. Why the transparency, and what can we learn from it?
By setting up an open forum and being honest with customers, McDonald’s built upon that most sacred of qualities that need to exist between customer and company: trust. Sometimes, admitting to failures helps bring the customer back on to your side.
Adidas deserves special commendation for its use of social networking site Tumblr for their content marketing. In the past, brands have been puzzled about how to best use Tumblr – which is an awkward mix of community and blog. To make Tumblr users sit up and pay attention, the sportswear giant created an irresistible cocktail of high-concept fashion stills and videos (one of the primary focuses of Tumblr), Celebrity campaigns, GIFs and interactive content.
The lesson here is simply to understand the audience of the medium you’re posting on. What Adidas executed here might not have worked on any other platform; but they recognised the exact behaviours and needs of Tumblr users, which ultimately led to their success.
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