Content marketing has always been important — even in the days of traditional media. You had 30 seconds or 8 linear inches to make your case and build your brand identity. But, can you really optimize ROI with content marketing?
Well, the answer is a little complex. First, there are important differences between traditional media and social networking. In the days of social media, you have tremendous opportunity to influence users (don’t forget, this also includes B2B users) they can’t live without your brand, between a blog and various social platforms. And, with user-generated content and the amplification that happens when users engage with your brand, social networks are excellent channels to spread your message and build brand identity.
But, differences between traditional media and social networking make your content marketing strategy VERY different. Developing a content marketing strategy, especially one that converts visitors, is challenging. Today, I’d like to share some use cases of firms who optimize ROI with content marketing.
Content marketing cases
I spoke with an account exec from Fallon and she shared some social media strategy insights from Talenti gelato — a gelato completing as #3 in the premium ice cream market with the big boys, like Ben & Jerry’s. Fallon uses primarily social media and guerilla marketing (sampling at events and other places where their target market gathers) as a low-cost strategy that’s been very successful.
Through Facebook and other social platforms, Fallon shares recipes, pics of the product, and images of their bicycle-riding team handing out gelato pops to hot consumers. Apps invite users to spin a wheel to see which brand to eat today.
In 2010, Pepsi decided NOT to spend on Super Bowl ads. Instead, they took their money and invited community leaders to suggest ideas that would help improve people’s lives. The project, called the Pepsi Refresh Project, donated $20 million in small amounts from $5000 to $250,000. Campaigns with the most votes won the money. Competition for the funds brought increased attention to Pepsi when individual projects posted on their Facebook walls and Tweeted out pleas for votes. While Pepsi later abandoned the Pepsi Refresh Project in favor of traditional Super Bowl advertising, they retained the social media component — this time asking folks to vote for their favorite TV commercial. Consumer-generated content has huge viral potential and makes a great addition to your content marketing strategy.
A few years ago, I heard the head of California Tortilla’s social media at an event. She uses a down-home strategy to drive her social media strategy and creates content that is truly authentic. She shares behind-the-scenes images and details of what’s going on in the firm, as well as inviting her social network to suggest new menu items and give feedback on their new logo. Meanwhile, she’s just folks to her social networks, who think of her as a friend — not someone from the company.
A few years ago I did an ethnography of the Disney forum — a place where folks share information, insights, and offer support for other folks. While the forum was part of the Disney website, it was unmoderated and appeared free from Disney company posts. Folks shared insights — like Fast Passes (where to get them, how to use them, and which ones to get first thing). Folks also shared information about which car rental places often offered handicap accessible vans. One user offered support for a family traveling with small children to let them know how to survive the ordeal.
Now, the question remains — do these content marketing strategies optimize ROI? And, I think the answer is an equivocal YES.
In the case of Talenti, their primarily social media strategy made them #3 in the premium ice cream market, which is quite a feat.
Pepsi saw their sales drop more than the drop in sales for all carbonated beverages. It’s hard to say whether that was a function of the forgone Super Bowl advertising or part of a larger trend. They DO believe the project was a good investment in the future of Pepsi.
California Tortilla definitely believes their content marketing on Facebook optimizes the ROI of the business and allowed it to grow.
Disney never really used the results of my ethnography. They later deleted the forum. It’s unclear what motivated this move, but I think it was a serious mistake. A good-natured rivalry on the forums both encouraged more visits to the park and validated those who visited the park frequently. I think the forum also encouraged folks to visit who might not have otherwise.
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