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Content Marketing: It’s Getting Personal!

“Can you send me a brochure?” said nobody in 2015.

Static, print-driven content marketing is in its death throes. It is stiff, passive, one-dimensional.  It is literally and figuratively flat.  Taking its place is a rich crop of highly innovative, highly personalised content marketing strategies and tactics. What’s driving this content marketing evolution?  The buyer, of course.

The customer journey has changed in massive ways.

It is more digital, more research-driven, and more social than ever. Buyers are still using content to inform their digitally driven purchasing decisions, but it’s not the content of yesterday. As Jeremy Bevan, Vice President of Marketing for Cisco’s EMEAR region, explains in a recent blog post on content marketing: “Marketing has always featured content.  But what we have all woken up to is the fact that content must be authentic, relevant to your audience, and human if it is to stand any chance of being conversational.”

Marketers are cutting through the content clutter.

To help buyers through the journey – and to spark conversations along the way –marketers are developing new forms of content marketing that are dynamic and personalised. They’re highly visual. They’re fun and humorous. What’s more, many of them are not even created solely by the marketing organisation.

What’s hot in content marketing?

Let’s take a look at the new kids on the content block…

1. User generated content (UGC)

UGC is content that’s created by consumers or end users and is publically available to others consumers and end users.  It can take many forms – from photos and videos to reviews and forum posts.  A recent study by Ipsos MediaCT found that millennials are spending 30 percent of their media time engaging with UGC.  The study also found that this type of content is 50 percent more trusted and 35 percent more memorable than other types of media.

Two great examples of UGC are Cisco’s “Office of Life” and “Wish You Were Here” campaigns. Office of Life (#officeoflife) features people’s takes on weird and wonderful places to work outside of the office.

office of life

Wish You Were Here (#WYWH2015) is driven by salespeople who are competing for a trip to the Seychelles. Both campaigns harness the immense power of users to create original content to fuel marketing campaigns.

WYWH

UGC is a great option for adding an element of fun to your content marketing. Don’t underestimate the power of fun: if it gets your customer’s attention, they’re more likely to engage with your company.

2. Employee-shared content

In my blog on employee advocacy (Employee Advocacy: Marketing Engine of the Future?) I mentioned that employees’ social posts generate 8X more engagement than posts from their employer.  That’s because people are increasingly influenced by other people, not by corporations.  So put your employees front and centre and let them shine!

Cisco has done just that in its “I Chose Cisco” campaign (#ichosecisco) which features photos and videos from Cisco employees explaining why Cisco is a great place to work.

I chose Cisco

The campaign enables recruiting to reach its audience on a personal level. Cisco is a B2B company but in the end, we’re really a human to human (H2H) company made up of people who are talking to other people.

3. Hyper local content

In the old world, content was created at the corporate marketing level and pushed to the regions to translate and distribute. Today, locally created content is rising in importance.  Why? People living and working in a particular geography have the deepest insight into the wants and needs of others in the geography.

Case in point:  A series of videos produced by Cisco’s UK and Ireland marketing team (@ciscoUKI) that were inspired by the Rugby World Cup.  These videos were a huge hit because they capitalized on a local event that was highly relevant to people in the region.

Naked Man

Hyperlocal content works particularly well on social and mobile platforms.  But keep in mind that it can be tricky to create.  You’ll still need guidance from corporate marketing on messaging and creative frameworks. You’ll also need a local team that has the right combination of subject matter expertise, writing skills, and publishing experience.  But if you can get it right you’ll raise the content marketing roof in terms of engagement, relevance, and fun.

4. Content with personality

All the forms of content I mention above share a common thread:  they have personality.  However, savvy marketers are pushing the envelope even further by using content marketing techniques that speak personally to their buyers.  Check out this exchange between LauraEllen, Kit Kat, and Oreo.

Oreo and kit kat

What would you rather see?  An advertisement for Kit Kats and Oreos?  Or a fun, real-time conversation among these companies and one of their biggest fans?  Me too.

Knowing what makes your audience tick is critical to developing content that they respond to. This is true no matter what your business or industry – whether you’re B2B or B2C, selling products or services, supply chain software or spaghetti sauce.  Case in point:  A blog post from SnapApp, “6 Boring Companies Making Amazing Content,” showcases content marketing campaigns from less-than-sexy companies like McKinsey and General Electric.  If they can do it, so can you.

So it’s time to step up. Give consumers and employees a voice. Get out of the traditional marketing comfort zone. I know it feels risky, but the pay-off is huge. If you demonstrate that you “get” your buyers, and enable them to interact with you in real-time ways you are one step closer to having long-time loyal customers.

Are you using more personalised content marketing approaches to make a bigger impact with your audiences?  I’d love to hear your stories!

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New #SocialRoundup: Why Brands Are the Real Winners At The Super Bowl and GRAMMYS

Welcome to our latest #SocialRoundup blog series about new social media efforts and best practices. Today, we visit the stadium turf and the concert stage to see how brands leveraged the Super Bowl and the GRAMMYS to drive awareness and engagement with their audiences.

Brands Make Winning Plays During Super Bowl XLIXCiscoTweet

The New England Patriots’ 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks was the most watched TV show in U.S. history. The challenge for brands, which spent a record $4.5 million for a 30-second TV ad, was maximizing this investment on social media.

The answer? Lots of hashtags and real-time marketing.

McDonald’s, for example, used its “Lovin“-themed campaign in a TV commercial to promote new way for patrons to pay for their order – with an act of love.

The fast food giant also gave away every product advertised during the game, tweeting the offers out in real-time. The strategy worked — McDonald’s got 1.2 million retweets overall, and 25,000 new Twitter followers that day.

McDonaldsTweet

Brands Steal the Spotlight During GRAMMYs

The live TV event that is the GRAMMYs proved to be another potent venue for social media, with brands like MasterCard and Patron using Twitter to publish promoted tweets in real time in reaction to what was taking place during the show.

PatronTweet  MCTweet

Cisco Takes The Court During NBA All-Star Game

You can’t forget about one of the biggest basketball games of the year –NBA All-Star 2015. This week, the Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility team followed Deborah Huyler and Andrew Torres, two Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team students, as they set up wireless access points and provided network troubleshooting in advance of the NBA All-Star 2015. They have been sharing their stories from Madison Square Garden, the Barclays Center, and other event venues through journal entries, photo slideshows, and videos.

NetAcadTweetDebster

Learn more about Cisco’s involvement at the NBA All-Star game and follow the #NetAcadNBA hashtag on Twitter to see real-time updates from Deborah and Andrew’s NBA All-Star 2015 experiences.

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Bridging the Gap Between Social and Digital Media

I’ve come across many articles touting the differences between digital and social media. Here’s one, for example, that suggests the words have lost their meaning entirely. It raises some good questions. What does digital even mean, anyway? And isn’t all media basically social in nature? A great take on it comes from Cisco’s Vice President of Digital, Mark Yolton, who provides deeper insight into “What is Digital?”

As marketers, we must think beyond social media and consider how digital components like web, mobile and video can further enhance the user experience and boost the perception in such a way that ultimately leads to a purchase. That’s exactly what we’ve done at Cisco. We did it by aligning social, web, mobile and video capabilities under one organization so that we can offer customers, partners and influencers an integrated experience. Clearly, social media is a huge part of today’s digital journey.

mobile apps concept

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And the Grand Prize for the 2012 Bulldog Digital/Social Communications Campaign Award Goes To…

Layout 1Today, Bulldog Reporter revealed seventy winners of the 2012 Bulldog Digital/Social PR Awards for Outstanding Achievement by Agencies and Individuals in PR and Corporate Communications. The Bulldog Reporter, which publishes the online trade journal Daily ‘Dog, is the PR/communication industry’s largest circulation industry and is known to communicate news on professional development events as well as other related materials.

I’m proud to announce to you that Cisco Systems’ entry titled “Cisco’s the Network” was recognized as the Grand Prize winner of the “Best Use of Digital/Social in a Communications Campaign” category. Read More »

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