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The Perilous Path of Overly Promotional Branded Content

Is your branded content teetering dangerously on the brink of being overly self-promotional? Five tips for putting your content first in branded content.

branded content

It’s natural to want to include your brand in your content because A.) Who wouldn’t want more visibility for their brand and to get credit for a great piece, and B.) It takes a serious amount of time and dedication to make a post successful. By the time you research a relevant topic, write a great article, publish the article, get it in front of the right audience, get them to click, and then get them to share, it would be a shame to not have your brand mentioned anywhere. However, while the truth is that including your brand is a great idea, it’s only great if done correctly.

What Is Branded Content?

Branded content essentially means creating a piece of content that highlights your brand, whether it’s just a mention or the entire article focus. Some consider branded content as a type of content that borders on advertising, but the barriers have been expanding recently. It isn’t something that is necessarily announced as “branded content,” but a strategy a company may use. Mashable’s head of branded content expands on the concept of using branded content in this article.

The chart below shows a case study from Starfleet Media that was published on MarketingProfs. It shows the type of content small businesses used most over the past 12 months. Branded content seemed to take over:

branded content

Today, branded content encompasses any piece of content that has a clear direction toward your brand. This could be because you’re covering something that happened in your company; you’ve written about something relevant in the past, you want to introduce someone from your company, etc. If someone reads the content and remembers your brand, it’s most likely considered branded content.

Keep Your Brand Present but Not Overbearing

As you might imagine, it’s very easy to go too far when it comes to branded content. If your brand is too obvious, it can become annoying and make it seem like you care more about your brand than the needs of your readers. In other words, you have to put the content before the brand.

These five tips will put you on the right path to putting your content first in your branded content.

1. Use a study that your company published.

This is probably the best way to create branded content without appearing too promotional. If your brand did research and found interesting results, you can’t help but mention your brand. However, you’re also creating a piece of content that adds value to the readers. The fact that you completed the research is relevant, so this is a great way to get your brand name out there while still putting content first.

2. examples should be thought-out and not stuffed-in.

This may be obvious, but important to keep in mind when writing. Brand name-dropping is a victim of stuffing the same way that keywords are in traditional content. When creating branded content, you have to make sure that the mention of your brand is completely relevant.

Going along with the last point, if you’re discussing a study you’ve written or are mentioning an example from your brand, then that is offering value to readers. Of course on the opposite note, if you’re simply stuffing your brand into an article where it doesn’t make sense, readers will notice. Your content will suddenly turn into a self-promotion piece and nothing more.

3. Develop a clear voice for your brand.

Part of writing branded content means having a voice for your brand that you make known throughout the piece. In other words, you don’t always have to focus on making sure readers think about your brand by actually saying the name of your brand. A voice can be just as distinctive as a brand logo or name. If you have a voice, this can be another way to get people thinking about your company indirectly.

Of course, creating a voice is no easy task. You have to understand your audience and create content that fits, and you have to remain consistent. Refer to this article for more about developing your brand voice.

4. Forget the traditional advertising Rules & think “brand” second.

A sales pitch comes naturally, but this is something that you should avoid when creating branded content. In the past, advertising had a strict set of rules and tips for making a sale, such as what language to use and persuasion techniques, but now the idea is to ignore the how of the content and focus on the why. The question is: Why are you writing this for your readers, and what would they want to read most? As opposed to: How can we get this person to buy something from our brand?

Of course you can take the second approach, but this wouldn’t be successful branded content. It would be an advertisement, and as online marketing becomes more and more prevalent, traditional advertising is becoming nothing less than annoying.

5. Distribute your content to the right places.

Part of creating successful branded content means getting that content shared by your community, and social media is a great way to make this happen. This is actually a true point for any type of content—if you aren’t distributing it in the right places, chances are it will not get shared and gain traction. Branded content needs to be shared on social media as much as possible, particularly on platforms like Google+ and LinkedIn. This type of content doesn’t necessarily need to be shared any differently, you just have to make sure it’s getting shared by the right audience just as you normally would.

It’s also worth noting that just because you’re trying to stay away from directly advertising, that doesn’t mean that your content can’t bring you sales. Check out this article for more on how social media and distributing your content to the right places can help your readers convert.

The Takeaway

Although branded content may teeter on the brink of advertising, you have to think of your readers first. The audience comes first and your brand needs to come second, otherwise you run the risk of sounding annoyingly self-promotional and losing readership.

For an example of great branded, check out this post about New Belgium Brewing. Barry Feldman dives into how the brand uses content to engage fans both online and through a successful event series.

Do you have any tips for being successful in branded content? Let us know your story in the comment section below.

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