SOCIAL PLATFORMS FOR PROGRESS
To boost reach and audience, players in the branded content space should also leverage different social media networks by adopting appropriate strategies. This can be as simple as creating a video, uploading it to YouTube, then posting the link to the video on Facebook and Twitter, says Phil Penton, president and co-founder of Social Integration in Chicago.
“Then, your next step would be to create ads that target the right consumers in these networks and have them link back to the YouTube video. And if you have lots of great images of your products or images of your store, put them up on Pinterest,” Penton says.
However, Mayberry warns against trying to be in every social media space possible. “Find the platform that communicates your message in the most effective way and to the most targeted audience. But also don’t immediately rule out the big guys-Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+-for search engine results page purposes, among other things,” says Mayberry.
To underscore this point, Mayberry mentions a recent social media success story. “A streaming video website company was looking to garner brand exposure and more website viewers. I recommended short stories shared on Vine or Snapchat to build interest and spread brand recognition. The video clip watchers could go to the site to learn and watch more,” says Mayberry. “Here, Snapchat or Vine aren’t the end goals, but they communicate an engaging message in a unique way that, when done right, can gain the brand exposure you need to boost your audience growth.”
OBSTACLES TO OVERCOME
Nowadays, marketers face several formidable challenges when it comes to wider distribution of their branded content and maximizing their message and reach. One of the biggest impediments they face is saturation, says Witt.
“It is a massive challenge to break through with something significant enough to drive conversation,” Witt says. “Another problem is targeting. Given that the average Millennial switches between platforms and channels every 2 minutes, marketers are challenged to address channel fragmentation.”
Content marketers also confront stiff competition from countless industry/product/service evangelists who are often providing free and unbiased content to the same consumer the brand marketer would like to interact with. “This makes the creation of valuable content a much more thoughtful endeavor-one that requires strategic and long-term planning for successful implementation and sustained management,” says Pfluger.
The diversity of the channels is another major hurdle that branded content producers have to clear. “There are different devices, different operating systems, and different bandwidths. This is especially true if you are marketing video content or using video content to market and promote products,” Regli says. “It requires multiple technologies, like a video production system, a media asset management system, and an online video platform to even make the content available.”
Despite the challenges, branded content players can hit their expanded targets and reap the rewards-provided they remain current with the latest trends and technologies, says Ken Willner, CEO of Zumobi in Seattle.
“Publishers and marketers must always be cognizant of our changing times. Since the advent of apps about 7 years ago, the world has undergone a momentous digital transformation that shows no signs of slowing down,” Willner says. “The moral to the story is stay fresh, stay relevant, and remain successful.”