As digital devices and platforms have grown to take up a significant part of our daily lives, people are becoming incredibly aware of the fact that we’re being marketed to regularly.
With the need to express ourselves, we’re all consciously taking part in the consumer culture and economy. That means we carefully pick and choose the products and the services we use, as well as the digital content that we consume.
There is a sense of importance behind the brands we support, the communities that we choose to be a part of, and the things that define our day-to-day lives.
So, what does all of this mean for modern brands and the marketing content they produce?
In short, it tells us that the old ways of advertising don’t necessarily work on the consumer “trained” for modern-day consumption. It has become increasingly easy to ignore the obvious ad displays and to crack the code of marketing hidden between the lines of content.
It’s time to think outside of the content marketing box!
We all know the good old advice of approaching your content efforts with quality, value, and dedication, so I will assume that your brand is already doing so. That is why I want to bring a few other aspects of branded content that may not be so obvious.
1) Don’t rely on tricks
People usually don’t like the feeling that they’re being played or tricked into acting. Imagine reading a really long article, all to find out that the information provided was carefully leading up to a sale at the end.
We all know that a functioning business needs consumer input, that is why hidden psychological tricks that are designed to push the user towards acting can make the consumer of that content feel “cheated” when they catch up to speed.
Instead, you should aim to hit the targets that the consumers expect from your brand, with appropriate content that is tailored to their needs first.
Don’t hide marketing tricks that push people into your funnels, those are already expected, and don’t feel authentic. Be transparent and create content that will pull your audience in for more interaction. If your content brings value to them, they will naturally want to go and check out more from your brand.
2) Use a real voice
In recent research done by Instagram, 2 in 3 respondents (66%) said that Instagram is a platform that allows them to interact with brands. These interactions might take the form of a snack company using polls in Instagram Stories to let fans vote on a new chip flavor, or a fashion brand reposting photos consumer posts.
Even with big brands, we all know that there is a person or there are people behind the content that that brand is marketing. Using phrases that don’t feel personal, can give off the impression that a machine is behind the things that you post, and that the content is a generic piece created with little care and personality. That is why you should try and talk to your audience like a real person talks to another person in life.
3) Help your audience to connect
We are always looking for a way to connect, whether it is with ourselves, our community, or something with a bigger meaning. These types of connections can range from something serious like an awareness cause to something more playful like a fun challenge.
Connecting to ourselves is the search for improvement and wellbeing in all areas of our life, mental, physical, and spiritual. Content that helps your consumers form better connections between their problems and the solution can have a positive impact.
Connecting to a community helps us with the need to associate ourselves with like-minded people to re-affirm the status and input in the things we’re part of. Great brands should form great communities of people.
Connecting to something with a bigger meaning, makes us feel like we have a higher purpose than just the consumption of information or products. Having an important purpose can create a strong drive behind your brand, and the way you communicate with your consumers, and how you make them feel.
4) Don’t be shallow
Don’t just think out loud, make some effort towards creating content with a more complex structure, which gives people more meaning, the more time they spend analyzing it.
Have you heard about a painting called “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by artist Bosch? The more time you spend looking at it, the more details and themes it has to offer to you.
It might take some work, but your content can make room for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd interpretation of the same idea, that people can discover on their own.
Another way to create more meaning is by including hidden details like easter eggs. Companies like Google, Tesla, Amazon, and others are hiding quirky software surprises in their products, which can make people feel good when they discover them. In fact, Tesla has confirmed that its cars still contain Easter eggs that nobody has yet discovered.
5) Defy expectations
In a recent Google / Ipsos study, it is reported that 76% of consumers enjoy making unexpected discoveries when shopping online. And 85 percent of those consumers will take a product-related action within 24 hours of discovering a product: reading reviews, comparing prices or purchasing the product — sometimes all at once! Why?
Expected things are often boring, and surprises and unexpected discoveries make our brain happy and satisfied. Think about things that you find boring, and how you felt when something positive happened, that you were not expecting.
We form expectations based on the information about the norm that we’ve gathered so far. Unexpected things that bring us value get a positive assessment by our brain, which means they cause an emotion of happiness, and at the end of the day, we tend to use more of the things that make us feel good.
Find a way to break away from the expected content in your niche or industry and surprise your audience with content that breaks the norm.
The most important thing to remember is that there is an abundance of digital content available, which means you have to make sure that your brand creates content that actually matters in the grand scheme of things. Connect with people, give them more than expected, and leave them feeling good about life.