Take Airbnb for example, with more than 10 million guests and 550,000 properties listed worldwide the brand has a vast distribution network of users who are real believers in the brand and who have an appetite for trusted content.
As a result, Airbnb launched a travel quarterly magazine called Pineapple in November. Articles in the launch issue included a guide to London neighbourhoods straight from the locals (at least one of whom happens to own a house listed on the site), a culinary tour of Seoul (penned by a pair of food writers staying at an Airbnb) and a photo story documenting a cycling trip around the Bay Area (which, of course, included a night in an Airbnb cabin).
AirBnB’s Pineapple complements AirBnB’s core offering perfectly, showcasing destinations that its users would like to visit and making the reader feel part of the community. However content can be used broadly across many different types of brands.
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Content no longer means the same thing to a retail marketer as it does to a magazine publisher for example. Thanks to an explosion in available channels, enhancements in ad technology and a creative revolution driven by the consumer’s desire to share, content’s definition has broadened into the realms of native, social, TV and outdoor.
Charity content marketing has brought us the ice bucket challenge, a charity phenomenon that saw in excess of 2.4 million ice bucket-related videos posted on Facebook and 3.7 million videos uploaded to Instagram with the hashtags #ALSicebucketchallenge and #icebucketchallenge.
Vlogger’s have entered the national consciousness as Zoella’s debut book broke the record for the highest first-week sales since records began (78,109 copies to be precise which is more than any other debut book on record, including the first instalments of Harry Potter or Fifty Shades of Grey).
Content creators the world over have been unearthed by the likes of Taboola and Outbrain, platforms that have infiltrated many of the world’s most highly-trafficked sites, recommending related editorial and sponsored content that may otherwise have remained hidden.
Whether it has been entertaining editorial, engaging film, interactive digital or hilarious social, the role of the content creator has been to deliver something memorable and attractive to an audience with a now insatiable appetite.
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The knock-on effect for brands is that their content has had to work harder, providing reasons to smile and to be inspired through original and genuine entertainment and storytelling.
Big campaigns have had to compete alongside smaller, more personable and engaging ideas, an example of a smaller but more engaging idea is the British Airways project which saw four video bloggers sent to four different destinations and encouraged an audience to follow their stories via the hashtag #BestSummerEver.
Even staid LinkedIn got in on the game, as 20th Century Fox promoted Taken 3, starring Liam Neeson with a promise that a competition winner would get an endorsement for their particular set of skills from Liam Neeson in the style of his Taken character Bryan Mills. Film content marketing didn’t end there though, as the LEGO movie one of the biggest movies of 2014 was arguably a huge piece of content marketing for the Danish brick makers.
So where next? As consumers we now expect smarter, better content that is more personalised and targeted. More and more consumers will be asking ‘why should we care’ and more importantly, ‘why should we share’. If brands can answer these key questions by offering consumers the right content – at the right time – then there will be good times ahead.