If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
These are adages we’ve all heard more than once. In theory, they make total sense. When something is done right, you do it again to experience a similar degree of success. With over 85% of US citizens having access to internet, it is shockingly easy to emulate, or downright copy, what might seem like a winning tactic. Because of it, a lot of content strategists find themselves going down the road most taken because, well, that road gets taken for a reason, right?
This is true. It is a worn path because of how frequently people walk all over it. Familiar as these paths are, they create a huge problem: boring content.
While they haven’t posted since earlier this summer, @insta_repeat once continuously replenished their feed with duplicative content. The posts, which generally focuses on content from people versus brands, put a searing spotlight on the lack of creativity from many social users.
Brands aren’t exempt, either. Back in June, companies flocked to social media to share assets with a black background and white text in support of Black people. The virtue signaling was so rampant that Insta Repeat would have had more than enough examples to include in a post.
Having such a deficiency in diverse content doesn’t contribute to any conversation. It generates noise. Clutter. Consumers don’t want this from a brand. They want to know how you’re going to be of service to them.
The next three tips are easy solves to consider when your content marketing team is putting pen to paper on how to produce effective material.
#1 THINK INSIDE OF THE BOX
Too often, strategists believe that going left, or thinking outside of the box, will get people to see their brand in an exciting, refreshing way. There can be such a strong desire to be seen as edgy or buzz-worthy that it clouds all rational thinking. And we all know what happens when we fly too close to the sun, right? We get burned. This is an analogy that can easily be applied to the world of content marketing.
Thinking inside of the box is a concept worth digging into. If you’re interpreting this as permission to play it safe, think again. Constraints can actually lead to more creative ideas. Spending some time to analyze your brand can uncover fresh ways to develop content that speaks directly to who your company or organization is. This will serve you much better than trying to go viral with an outrageous campaign that has nothing to do with your brand mission.
On social media, Pantone isn’t just sharing color swatches that help you find the right shade of blue for your wall (although Klein blue is always acceptable). They are using platforms like Instagram to highlight the many ways in which one could be an authoritative voice on color.
Their strategy, which finds the novel within what is familiar, has allowed them to sidestep what people might normally expect from them. With over 2M followers and counting, it’s an impressive strategy, too.
#2 RAISE THE BAR
Raising the bar is a two-prong approach for many brands. The first is to do so within your own organization. The second is within your respective industry. To do so in either scenario, an awareness of the current landscape is paramount. If you can’t identify who the golden child of content is, how do you ever intend to effectively move the needle or set a higher standard?
BRISxLIFE, a YouTube channel with over 800K subscribers, doesn’t reinvent the wheel with his reaction videos. He sticks pretty close to the rule of thirds and has the video he’s reacting to opposite him. On the surface, his reaction videos are pretty in line with this juggernaut content pillar. It’s how he executes his setup that elevates his videos. Because he films with a wider aperture, the background is blurred which gives greater dimension to his work. As simple of a filming tactic as it is, it makes a big difference.
To raise the bar, you don’t have to completely dismantle the current process and start from scratch. What must be done is pushing forward enough that others around you take notice and are inspired to test things out for themselves.
#3: BE YOURSELF (FOR ONCE)
The worst thing you can do for your brand is wasting time and money producing content through the lens of someone else. The Twitter account for Wendy’s shot to fame with its snarky attitude. Did it help their bottom line? Nope! Still, brands suddenly wanted to know how far they could push the boundaries.
If you’re not known for something, don’t force it just because it’s the flavor of the month.
Riverhead Books, an imprint of the Penguin Group, has kept their focus on promoting their titles. Even before the pandemic, they made the act of reading look desirable and essential. They do this with the help of smartly styled lifestyle photos.
The vision they broadcast? Curling up with a good read in a relaxing environment. Not only is this precisely the type of environment many book lovers fantasize about, but they have stayed true to their brand. For that reason alone, Riverhead’s content marketing efforts are successful.
Be unashamed of who you are and have your content deliver on that. It’s one sure way to tap into the right emotions and mindsets of your target audience.
There is no denying that using a formulaic approach when building content can garner tons of engagements. It happens every day regardless of the industry or business category. It makes sense since confronting conformity can be difficult. Hopping from the same lane as everyone else is needed, though. At least it is if you want to keep your brand from getting swept away in a sea of sameness.