Over the last few months, I’ve been working with a client on a white paper about the history, importance of, and successful examples of branded video content. So far, I’ve interviewed several experts in the industry and gathered some preliminary statistical research. More recently, I put together an outline which took into consideration all the points of view and information I’d gathered over the last several weeks. And let me tell you, there’s a lot to consider.
Branded content is complicated territory. For starters, while most people call it just that, you’ve likely also seen the terms “branded entertainment” and “sponsored content” thrown around too (and what’s the difference between those, anyway?). Then of course, you have all the different approaches to branded content to consider, such as whether or not you’ll simply sponsor created content or help produce it alongside a studio or marketing agency.
If you’re a publisher or brand looking to get into branded content, it’s no surprise you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. That particular marketing realm can be tricky, but it becomes less so when you embark on your branded content journey with a solid plan of action in mind. To help you prepare, here are three areas to consider as you look to join the branded content game:
Make Sure You Know Your “Why”
First thing’s first: why do you want to do branded content? And it’s not good enough to answer, “Because it’s the cool thing to do” or “because everyone’s doing it.” As we’ve seen in the past, what’s “cool” in online video may not last as long, or be as effective, as marketers think it will (i.e. YouTube pre-roll ads, Meerkat, etc.). Plus, you shouldn’t get into branded content because it’s worked for other companies. No two brands are exactly alike, and while your competitor may have found success with branded content, there’s no guarantee it will work for you.
Instead, get to the heart of why your company is interested in branded content and make sure it’s for reasons other than “it’s cool.” Dive into branded content if you believe it’s a marketing strategy which will work for you, or it’s at least worth testing out in the short term. Also, if you’ve done the legwork to figure out if your customers/intended audience will be receptive to it, then it can’t hurt to experiment with branded content.
Set Expectations Early On
After you’ve clarified your “why,” and before you do anything like brainstorm content ideas or consider funding needs, lay out very succinct, clear expectations. If your goal is to drive conversation around a topic related to your brand, you need to determine what “good” engagement will look like to you (comments on the video, comments across social, etc.). If your goal is to increase brand awareness with the produced content, you need to decide beforehand how many video views, likes, shares, etc. you’d like to pull in.
A branded content strategy without defined expectations is, more often than not, doomed to failure, especially if these expectations aren’t shared with those who need to be in-the-know. For example, everyone in your company who’s involved with the project should understand what you hope to achieve from the branded content. This becomes even more important if you end up partnering with a content studio or marketing agency to help create your video, lest the lack of communication result in a product you consider is poorly-performing.
Do Your Research
I cannot stress this point enough. No matter if you decide to partner with a studio to create branded content or if you suss out an influencer on your own to help you with the branded content, you need to make sure your goals and philosophy for your branded content is in line with anyone you partner with to create it. In short, do your research to see if you’re a good fit.
For example, let’s say you decide to work with an influencer and not a branded content studio. After browsing influencer marketing platforms such as Reelio, Grapevine, or Famebit, you find a creator whose audience is large and seemingly engaged. At this point, it’d be a mistake to stop there and consider your research done. Make sure you watch several videos from that influencer, check out their presence and interaction on other platforms, and, after performing several of these types of tasks, only then decide if you’re confident about partnering with that creator.
Branded content is an intricate industry, and will likely grow even more as online and social video continues to be the go-to entertainment of choice for modern-day consumers. That being said, creating your own successful branded content doesn’t have to be overly difficult, as long as you get started on the right foot. Follow the three guidelines mentioned in this article and you’ll be on your way to joining the ranks of branded content experts.