It’s not realistic for every brand to have a spin off media company on the scale of Red Bull, nor produce and curate content as prolifically as GoPro does. But all brands do have the capacity to become a publisher if they have a blog, are on social or have any online presence. How far a brand needs to go towards investing in their content creation will depend on their goals, budget and ambitions. Regardless of these, what smart companies can learn from Red Bull and GroPro is how to invest in audiences and how to create a dedicated platform to engage with fans on.
Here we take a look at five lessons that these big brands can teach us about content marketing.
Own your own media
It was a bold decision, but in 2007 the energy drinks company Red Bull launched Red Bull Media House aimed at capturing a growing niche audience and aligning its brand with action sport. It spotted a gap in the media market and exploited it to the max – sucking audiences away from the established media outlets like ESPN and Sky Sports and capturing new viewers as it built its destination platform which played host to daring stunts, dirt bike competitions, sky diving and documented any extreme sport or outdoor adventures being had. The unique content, created for the multiple channels, has been made by using the best technology, filmmakers, photographers and storytellers in the world. How can a drinks brand go from selling its product to becoming a media company in its own right? Simple. It switched from spending money on TV ad campaigns, high profile centrally located billboards and handed it over to the content marketing team. In doing so they cut out the middle men, stripped away the layers between the brand and its consumers and brought its purchase funnel right to their own front door. They could now afford to make higher quality content, better than any existing media company, that carried the Red Bull branding for a fraction of the cost of a prime time TV commercial. And, within eight years, this brand has been able to monetise its content and now generates revenue from external advertising and sponsorship collaborating with big named brands like Apple. It’s not realistic to think that every brand can do this, on this scale, but the primary lesson we can learn from Red Bull is even if you only have one channel – you need to dedicate more of your resource and budget to creating high quality, relevant and engaging content for it – as the dividends will pay off.
Put your audience first
Red Bull Media House made a bold statement in a recent interview it gave: that its content was created with the sole purpose of engaging its audience. “It’s all about the audience” said a member of its marketing team. And with 4.4 million subscribers on its YouTube channel (just over half the viewing numbers of the big budget HBO series Game of Thrones Season Five) this approach has really paid off. Red Bull’s content team focuses their efforts on making the content they create authentic and relevant to their audience as well as accessible – offering their viewers the chance to consume their content on every channel and platform possible. The high quality content they create satisfies their audience’s demands for real-life documentaries, high adrenalin sports and unique stories that can’t be found on any mainstream media outlet. Added into the mix is the brand’s commitment to supporting (sponsoring and filming) ‘remarkable people’ in achieving their dreams – which provides a plethora of unique and valuable branded content. What we can learn from this is make your audience the hero of your content. Put their needs first no matter what. Give them something that will help or excite them and they will reward you with repeat custom and long term loyalty.
Incentivise User Generated Content
GoPro is the master at incentivising user generated content and harnessing its power on its website. So much so that it was reported that a video is uploaded on to Facebook or YouTube with a GoPro tag every minute of every day. It’s of little wonder that a recent AdAge report said it would take almost three years to watch all the video content created by GoPro users uploaded in 2013 alone. This is an astonishing up-take rate. How have they done it? By consistently investing in engaging with their users and fans by incentivising them to upload their photos or videos for a chance to win a daily GoPro prize of equipment worth $5,000. They’ve given their fans a platform to tell their stories about using their product. The GoPro website heavily features visual material created by their users – real people using their products in real life. Their marketing strategy couldn’t be more powerful than that. What we can learn from this approach is that your fans can be your biggest advocates so put them, their stories at the centre of any content marketing strategy – give them a little reward or incentive to share their stories and use their material to help tell your story.
Even brands with marketing budgets like GoPro know their own limits – not all the content they carry on their site can be their own. The GoPro marketing strategy team searches the web for the best and coolest videos shot with their cameras. They actively seek out emotional and impactful content that they can share with the rest of their fanbase, whether it’s ‘extreme’ and unique content or simply the beauty of everyday life. The GoPro YouTube channel is filled with curated videos. It also leverages the passion of well-known users by sponsoring athletes like skateboarder Ryan Sheckler and snowboarder Shaun White. GoPro then syndicates the content they generate on to their channel. This has a dual benefit for the brand – it boosts the brand’s awareness among the athlete’s fans as well as generating new and fresh content for its own site. The GoPro social media team also scours the web for any content they can reshare on the brand’s social pages. They find videos shot with GoPro cameras, feature them on their site and which boosts engagement with their fans as they are generally excited to be found and featured. What we can learn from this approach is to not just rely on creating the content yourself but source (and credit) content from around the web that’s relevant to your audience.
Tell great stories
Both Red Bull and GoPro brands are good at are telling great stories. Since Red Bull launched its media house they made it their mission to share real-life stories of ‘fascinating personalities from sport, music and lifestyle’ to inspire audiences from all over the world. Its marketing team said in a recent interview that its main objective is to produce, distribute and broadcast premium content with great quality storytelling. Recent research from Nielsen found that 92% of respondents to its survey said they wanted companies to create adverts that felt like stories. Research published in The New York Times backed this finding up. It showed that the human brain finds it easier to remember and understand stories over facts and data. . Stories stimulate the brain and have the potential to change how people act in life. Both GoPro and Red Bull understand that consumers respond to storytelling more than they do marketing messages which is why they have been so successful at capturing large followings and creating brand advocates. What we can learn from these brands is that they have hired natural storytellers to tell the different and diverse stories of their fans. Whatever the topic your brand needs to use storytellers to differentiate yourself from everybody else, this will ensure your content stands out from the crowd.