The following is a guest post by Katie McBeth. Katie is a freelance writer out of Boise, ID, with experience in marketing for small businesses and management. She spends her free time being the mother of three cats and a dog named Zeno. You can follow her animal and writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter: @ktmcbeth.
In our current age of the internet, social media content marketing reigns king.
Businesses are constantly competing for “likes” and “retweets”, and marketers are getting wrung dry trying to think of fresh new content. With so many engaging posts out there, how can your business stand out and make an impact? Or if you’re just starting out, how can you make an impression at all?
If you’re looking for some new and fresh approaches to your content marketing strategies and for innovative ways to move your audience through the funnel, look no further than these three strange, but relevant, sources of inspiration.
Memes and Staying Current
Memes are all the rage on the internet. Go to any social media site, and within seconds you’ll happen across a popular, re-shared, and absurd image. Memes don’t always make sense, but to those that love the joke, they mean a lot. For business marketers, memes can be a tricky form of content marketing, but they can be extremely rewarding when you do them right.
There’s a few tricks to meme marketing, but arguably the most important aspect is staying current. Whether this means current events or just the latest meme that is making an impact: you have to be aware of what is engaging the internet right now. Additionally, don’t be afraid to get absurd. Memes rarely make sense, and allowing your content to stretch into “Weird Twitter” territory can actually be super rewarding.
It’s expected that not everyone will get it right the first time. Memes are reliant on the audience, and you have to play to their likes and interests. It can be hard to catch the attention of the internet when you don’t have a large audience, but meme marketing can certainly help you get there, and allow you to make an impression on users in the “awareness” stage.
Understanding how other companies have utilized meme marketing also provides some useful tips for content marketing. Denny’s entire Twitter account is full of bizarre statements or images that all relate back to their product. Their pancakes are fluffy, their sandwiches are gosh darn good, and they’re heckin’ great at getting the audience to engage and retweet their content.
You don’t have to be serious with all your content, and you don’t always have to be selling your product with every tweet or Facebook post. Breaking up your more serious posts with some lighthearted memes can help keep your audience engaged and happy. Sometimes sharing a laugh can be more successful than having a great sales pitch. So try memes today!
Engagement and the WWE
The company known as WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) is all about audience reaction. They have been known to create such action stars as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Cena, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and Andre the Giant. Since the 1990s, the television show has been going strong, with weekly matches and constant story-building drama. When social media came around, they embraced it, and it fit seamlessly into their marketing plans.
However, the biggest lesson marketers can pick up from WWE isn’t in the way they’ve embraced social media (although there are some good lessons there, too). It’s in the way the show relies on engagement from their audience. Stars like John Cena and “The Rock” don’t just appear overnight, but are built up over years of audience reactions. The writers can try their hardest to make someone into the “next big thing,” but the real people in charge are the ones watching the shows. The characters that WWE builds are only as strong as the momentum behind the crowd’s reactions, and the majority of that is out of the hands of the executives and writers. Once the momentum is there, the WWE just has to ride it out and embrace it.
Marketers are constantly trying to build up and create the “next big thing” in their marketing campaign, but sometimes those efforts will just fall flat. Like the WWE, you have to go with the flow and rely on audience reaction to get the best engagement. For added fun, let your employees be a part of your campaign too.
An example of this can be seen in the evolution of the “Divas” in WWE. Originally screened as a sexualized part of the show, the women wrestlers have changed dramatically just over the past five years. They are now taken far more seriously and are given prime time slots during matches. The WWE were catching on to a newly realized trend in sports: that over 50% of the modern audience is female, and they are worth engaging through empowering figures and targeted marketing. Now, the Divas are a force to be reckoned with, and all members of the audience are loving it.
Just as the WWE discovered with the Diva campaign, marketers should also research their most engaging posts, and see how they can target their audience in a more precise way. Utilize the tools available, and research your campaigns by polling or surveying your audience, create test content, and don’t be afraid if you found you’ve made some mistakes along the way. Once you find the “sweet spot,” build a campaign around it, and all you have to do is let the audience provide the momentum. Engagement is everything in marketing, so don’t be afraid to try something new, change it up, and let your audience guide your direction. Trust your audience, because they won’t let you down; and that’s the bottom line!
Mr. Biggles and Underdog Stories
It’s obvious the internet loves cats. Adores them, really. But when Mr. Biggles’ adoption profile hit the internet, it wasn’t just the character’s species that drew attention. The adoption center that created his profile, Cat People of Melbourne, Australia, did an excellent job of taking a very serious issue (the life and adoption needs of a cat) and making it both engaging and hilarious. There’s something to be said about the ability to build an “underdog” story from a simple adoption page for a cat, but they did it.
Now, Mr. Biggles has even made it onto NPR, where the question was asked: “Will someone please adopt this ‘utter bastard of a cat’?” Drawing in international attention will surely guarantee this cat has a happy life, but what does this example teach small business marketers?
For one, all small businesses often function as the “underdog.” They are competing in a small, local market, against billion-dollar corporations. Support from their community is vital, but it’s tough to get. However, creating a fun and inventive story (such as Mr. Biggles’ story) to share on social media can help you stand out and engage your community. Thank them for their undying support, because without their help, you simply wouldn’t be there. But never take your story too seriously, either. If you’ve had some rough patches, embrace them, and your audience will appreciate both your honesty and your struggles. You might not get international attention like Mr. Biggles, but you sure will get the attention of your audience.
Let’s Wrap It Up…
There’s a lot of information here, but don’t let it discourage or intimidate you. There’s a lot that can be said about content marketing, and all this information barely scratches the surface. Here are the highlights:
- Embrace the weird every now and then. You don’t always have to be selling a product to your audience, and sometimes capitalizing on a current “fad” can help grow your audience, and keep your loyal fans entertained.
- Rely on your audience, and they will not fail you. Create polls, surveys, and research their interaction with your content. Like the WWE, you too can ride the wave of audience engagement if you find the sweet spot.
- Don’t be afraid to drop campaigns and move on to the next one. Engagement is everything, and sometimes campaigns just won’t stick. Don’t let it intimidate you, but embrace the challenge and move on.
- Create a story and show your audience how they have influenced your business from the beginning. Be honest about your struggles and bumps, and create a personal story that goes above and beyond — even into the absurd, if you feel like it. Embrace your “underdog” story, and be thankful to your fans. They’ll love being a part of your story.
Content marketing is all the rage these days, and these three sources of inspiration can help keep your content fresh and engaging. Now, get out there and start creating!