The Content Marketing Institute recently discussed a huge initiative from Coca-Cola called Content 2020. One concept in particular should resonate with any marketer is the idea that content can and should drive customers. That’s right – the wholesome, upbeat notion of creating quality media for people to consume can not only act like an ad but can drive even more loyalty and stronger emotional ties to a brand.
The analogy used by Coke’s VP of Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence, Jonathan Mildenhall, is that good content consumed by prospects and customers fills their “emotional well” – this idea of a customer’s need for emotional connections to things that they allow into their lives, which includes products and services.
Admittedly, driving customer acquisition via content consumption isn’t something that happens overnight, nor is it something that most content marketers enjoy measuring. It’s too easy to focus on consumption and not customer acquisition metrics, after all. But content can change the conversation in a powerful way, and we as marketers all realize that the public perception, conversation and emotional association between brand and consumer can lead directly to increased sales and loyalty.
But this can’t be done in one, neat campaign summed up by a media buyer and presented on a handful of slides. This is a process and ties to the larger brand, so the knee-jerk reaction is to claim that content can’t drive success.
The CMI article on Content 2020 argues, however, that by virtue of creating great content and telling great stories, companies like Coke, Apple, and Google are able to fill our emotional wells and convert that into business. Furthermore, when we feel such strong ties to a brand that it’s on an emotional level, we as consumers almost ignore other factors like price point (the example here being Apple) or even privacy (Google) when deciding on a product or service – all benefits the brand reaps after filling our emotional wells.
Now, in trying to keep this practical, it’s important to tie the idea of filling consumers’ emotional wells with real business objectives. One of the most effective ways of doing so, I believe, is to rely on this idea of emotionally stimulating content that’s not just created by brands and pushed at consumers but actually created by consumers themselves. When your audience (which is creating content everywhere online anyway) has a strong enough relationship with your brand that it will voluntarily opt into your campaigns that ask for user-generated content, you’ll see that you’ve got a real opportunity to fill that emotional well and generate loyalty. Why? Because uploading a photo, designing something, shooting a home video, and creating content is by its very nature self-expressive, and self-expression is a product of the emotions you’re feeling. If your consumer base can self-express around and with your brand by creating their own content, then you’ve significantly tapped into their emotions and have won over loyal customers.
Yes, you should create branded content to push out to the world, but perhaps more powerfully, setting up an interactive campaign on Facebook, on your site, or on a publisher partner allows an audience to create compelling content for themselves and share that in an authentic way to friends. This can achieve deeper emotional ties than merely the consumption of your content. It’s more active and more self-expressive than metrics like views or impressions.
We talk a lot about user-generated content (UGC) at Dailybreak as a means to capture attention, gain more loyal followers, and grow your social footprint. But what Coke, Apple, and Google have also shown us is the power of emotion behind all that.
So the next time you decide to ask your online followers to upload a photo or design something for you, be sure to focus on that emotional response you want from consumers. If done properly, it will resonate deeply with consumers and build your army of fiercely loyal brand advocates.
For a basic overview of creating user-generated content campaigns, including some real world examples, download Dailybreak’s how-to guide, “User-Generated Content: 3 Rules to Gain More (And How It Builds Loyalty).” Download for free.
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Jay is Content Director at Dailybreak. You can follow him on Twitter @jay_zo