Write a blog post. Share it on social media. Rinse and repeat. If that’s your idea of content marketing, you’re missing out on a world of possibilities.
Content marketing is much more than a boring blog and stale social media accounts. In the digital age, the mantra has become, “every company is a media company.” So what are you going to create?
Need some help getting those gears turning? Here are eight different ways to develop content that is outside the norm.
1. BE VISUAL
This really isn’t that “unconventional.” However, it’s something people doing content marketing tend to forget. Imagery is extremely important.
Any article you write for a blog, newsletter, or resource center should have images in it. Plus, your content should use a legible typeface and sub-headers to make it easily scannable for online readers. Without good visual design your content will get lost in all the noise of the Internet.
Creating content that’s more image-based than text-based is also an effective method for delivering unconventional content marketing to your audience. Remember, social sites like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook are all about the visuals.
Infographics are a popular way for content marketers to tell a story with graphic design and illustrations, especially if you want to turn statistics into something visually compelling.
We all love looking at photos, so add galleries to your content whenever possible. Check out one gallery we added to a case study for Pella Windows & Doors of Wisconsin. Photo galleries work as standalone content as well.
At Element, we often create custom illustrations for our clients to share on social media – including a pickle that looks like William Shakespeare.
(Click the pickle pic to find out why)
Making your own memes using a free service like ImageChef is a fun way to take a shot at viral images to share on social media. Some brands are even starting to make custom emojis.
2. DEVELOP AN APP OR ONLINE TOOL
Content that’s actually useful to your audience is always going to bring you a better return on your investment. That’s because you’re actually helping people with problems they have or questions they need answered.
When you provide your audience with a mobile app or an online tool that makes their lives easier, they’ll develop a loyalty to you.
The College Board offers online apps like scholarship search tools, tuition payment calculators, and college savings calculators to help future students.
App development can be 100% fun for your audience, too. We developed a “Kraut Yourself” app for our client, Krrrisp Kraut, which let people give themselves a silly sauerkraut makeover. (see the image above). This campaign generated a significant buzz that helped build the client’s social media audience.
Domino’s Pizza nailed it with a mobile app that’s fun, useful, and drives sales. Its app lets you order pizza via text message with an emoji or using a Twitter hashtag.
3. START A PODCAST
Podcasts are hot right now and continue to gain steam. Statistics from the Pew Research Center indicate this form of online content is growing steadily. The rise of smartphones helped make this happen, and many people now “binge listen” to podcasts during long daily commutes.
According to an article from Convince and Convert, 21% of Americans are listening to podcasts on a monthly basis. The author points out that’s the same percentage of Americans using Twitter. Diehard weekly podcast listeners consume five episodes a week.
Podcasts are an ideal way to showcase your company’s expertise on a certain subject. Interview-style podcasts are fairly easy to produce, as long as you can keep them interesting. With a little extra production value, audio storytelling can be very powerful. It conjures up images in the imagination and creates a totally different experience than reading an article or watching a video.
Check out the podcasts from Gimlet Media for some good examples of audio storytelling. My personal favorite is the Startup podcast, which follows a different startup’s struggles each season. Listen to the Slack Variety Pack podcast to hear a great example of using podcasts for content marketing.
4. HOP ON THE VIDEO TRAIN
Remember the days when it was difficult to watch video online because of slow Internet connection speeds? Those days are gone. At this point, some video efforts should be part of nearly every content marketing strategy.
YouTube is considered the second largest search engine and the third most-visited website in the world. People go there to look for answers, not just cat videos. Facebook video views are on the rise too as it looks to compete with YouTube. In November of 2015, Facebook said its users were viewing 8 billion videos a day.
If your company is producing valuable video content that informs and entertains or inspires viewers, you’re going to hit the jackpot.
Video production can be time-consuming and possibly expensive. For that reason, consider turning your most popular articles and infographics into videos. Take the same topic and then create a video around it. This way, you’ll know your videos have a better chance to find success.
If you’re going for a viral video to create awareness, it’s wise to make your brand, your product, or the service you provide the star of the video. A classic example of this in action is the “Will it Blend?” video series from BlendTec. It showcases the product and the blender’s capabilities in an entertaining way.
The first piece of video content your company should produce is one that tells your story and explains your mission, or your reason for existing. We made the video below for our client, Grass Run Farms.
5. HOLD AN ONLINE CONTEST
Content marketing can also take the form of a contest.
If you want to generate a lot of excitement around your company online, a giveaway, sweepstakes, or other type of contest is a good bet.
You can sign up for services like OfferPop, Wishpond, or Woobox if you plan on launching contests regularly. These services let you create campaigns like photo contests, personality tests, and surveys. Or you can use them to distribute online coupon codes.
You can also take the DIY approach to online contests. They can be as simple as a comment-to-win post on Facebook, or a photo caption contest. You can use hashtags on Twitter to track entries in a contest for that platform.
We managed two contests for our client, Oh Snap Pickles!, in 2015. One was centered around National Pickle Day and involved a hidden picture challenge. For the second campaign, we used Facebook note and had fans guess the true origins of the Christmas Pickle tradition.
Can You Find the Hidden Oh Snap! Pickle?
6. HOST WEBINARS AND Q&A SESSIONS
Potential clients and customers have questions, and you have answers.
An FAQ page on your website is one thing. But can you turn those frequently asked questions into valuable content marketing pieces?
Webinars and online group chats establish your brand as a trustworthy expert in your industry. Popular software services like GoToWebinar (from GotoMeeting) make it easy. But there are many other options available.
You can also try using social media for these kinds of marketing efforts. Google Hangouts and Twitter chats are perfect for answering questions from your audience. Tech journalist, Robert Scoble, recently left RackSpace to join UploadVR, He’s a big fan of using Facebook Live video to communicate with his audience.
7. GO OLD SCHOOL WITH PRINT
Print is the vinyl record album of content marketing. It’s so retro, it’s cool again.
While traditional print media may be struggling, there’s a new opportunity for creating printed marketing material that’s unique and high quality.
Your print content marketing could take the form of a quarterly magazine, an attractive annual report, or eye-catching direct mail pieces that are too interesting to toss in the trash can.
Or you could be even more unconventional …
What if you created printed trading cards featuring your sales staff and customer service representatives? That’s a fun way to put faces to names. What if you sent out a cool calendar to clients and prospects at the beginning of the year? What if you turned a popular infographic into a poster or printed funny t-shirts that promoted your brand?
Speaking of comparing print and vinyl … the right technology can connect print marketing with digital. Check out the video below and see how the agency Contagious in London, England, created a cardboard “Office Turntable” as an unconventional way to promote one of their clients in the music industry.
8. DO SOMETHING IN THE REAL WORLD
Event marketing is content marketing too. Not everything needs to be digital. There are plenty of ways to take your content marketing off the screen and into reality.
Look for opportunities to get involved in your community. Volunteer, donate to charity, get employees involved in choosing who your business supports and encourage them to participate.
Trade shows and conferences are good places to demonstrate your expertise using presentations, videos, printed material, and other types of content. If you’re extra ambitious, your company can even create its own valuable event to educate potential customers and generate leads.
Don’t forget – these real world events can then turn into digital content. Post the photos and videos on social media. Write an article previewing and wrapping up your live events.
If you really want to go unconventional, do something like Alphabet Photography did over the holidays several years ago. They sent a flash mob to a busy shopping mall and surprised people with an impromptu performance of the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
See the video below. It has more than 48 million views! How’s that for exposure?
Doing things in public will inevitably end up online. Just imagine how many of those shoppers posted about what they saw on social media and shared their own videos of what happened.
NEED HELP WITH YOUR CONTENT MARKETING?
By now, we hope you have a bunch of amazing ideas for content marketing campaigns swirling around in your head.
But how will you make it happen?
Element has a dedicated team for carrying out our one-of-a-kind content marketing program. We’ll help you develop a strategy and execute that strategy while our digital marketing experts measure what works and report back to you with the results. We have the in-house developers, public relations experts, art directors, and video production capabilities to help your business create the unconventional content you need to get noticed.