Branded content can be anything

by the BCMA and Jess Norton

August 2017

The BCMA is in a privileged position to have access to the leading experts and pioneers of the branded content industry. This interview is a part of ‘For The Love of Branded Content’ series which brings together ‘thought-leaders’ from across the globe to share their ‘love’ and advice on what it takes to succeed in the ever-evolving world of branded content.

Jess Norton, strategist at [L]earned Media says branded content can be anything.

Learn more in her short interview below.

1. Why do you love branded content?

Because the opportunities are endless.

Branded content can be anything, from a movie, to a blog, a social post, a vlog, a gif, promotional material, social influencers the list goes on and on. Branded content holds immense power to communicate with people beyond your traditional advertising mediums. The subconscious, influential powers of branded content is incredible.

The use of branded content has been booming of late, particularly because big brands can align themselves with people, or ‘social influencers’ with large followings, who can help tell their brand story in a more authentic and aspirational manner, as opposed to traditional oneway ad channels. This means brands can tap into ‘mass granular’ marketing, by fostering their brand presence via content that their brand ambassadors or influencers communicate through.

Branded content is essentially ‘masked advertising’, and opportunities to engage with consumers are endless and the engagement it receives (if executed correctly) far outweighs traditional advertising messaging because of the dynamic way it’s communicated.

2. What do you love the most about branded content?

It’s not about the quick win, it’s about the long term relationship.

Branded content is not founded on hard selling, it’s about building a relationship and consumer trust by providing value. Branded content can be used as a reference tool, education, inspiration and stimulus to people, far beyond any old 30second ad. Think about the boom of branded content in the beauty industry for example.

Brands are creating their own YouTube channels featuring influencer created social videos and tutorials so that their customers see the brand not just as the basic product they have bought, but rather as a fundamental part of their daily makeup routine/application experience.

By going the extra mile and creating a relationship with the customer it forms a connection with the consumer and brand, and represents that the brand isn’t just in it for the quick win, but to form a long lasting relationship and willing to provide added value.

3. One piece of advice you’d love to give someone undertaking branded content?

Have a strategy.

Without having a plan, your content will have no purpose. Make sure you have a strategy as to why and where you are distributing your content, this will ensure your content isn’t just random stuff in front of people who don’t care. Living in a digital world, we are well informed and aware of audiences; we expect content to be tailored to our requirements, and our experiences are tailored based on what we want.

‘Quality over quantity’ is still very relevant, even in branded content land where it is mistakenly viewed as an exercise on a volume rather than on depth. Ensure you are truly creating something engaging or useful. Without a strategy, your content is aimless, useless and ultimately profitless.

When brands create content it should do two things ‘ inspire and educate’.

A combination of these two factors will add value to your audience’s life and consequently give them reason to engage with your content both initially, and continuously.

Inspire – imagery and aspirations to do better or influence behavior change.

Educate – resource and reference tools in order to learn something new.

4. What is the best example of branded content you love?

The best content marketing is when it’s contextually sound.

“Content is king, but context is god!” The best example of branded content is when it has the correct context placement. You must be able to engage with your audience by saying the right thing, but also in the right way. You can have the best written article or video on ‘how to surf’ in the entire world, but if your content is in a place where people couldn’t care less about surfing, then your job has failed.

The best example of branded content is when it’s placed and distributed in the right places. This shows that the brand knows their audience and thus relevancy is likely to be high and shareability to be elevated.

You may find that your content is best communicated in many ways and using multiple mediums or formats. Alternatively, you may find that an idea is simply made for video.

Focus on the content and story you want to tell, and the feelings you want to evoke, then consider context – this can be anything from your audience to the campaign’s purpose or the brand’s existing customer touch points. Data and strategy should also form part of your contextual discussion.

The right format will present itself when you bring all these elements together. When content and context are perfectly paralleled, the best possible outcome will be achieved.