‘Beware of the shiny new thing’: Common content-marketing pitfalls

With content marketing, brands are in danger of creating messaging that, rather than satisfying their audience, just adds to the noise. Agencies are facing competition from management consultancies, publishers and others who are also producing creative.

Digiday gathered together a top brands, publishers and agencies creating content marketing for a one-day event in London Tuesday to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing them. As Tom Curtis, head of MediaCom’s content marketing division, Beyond Advertising, put it: “There are threats coming from all angles.”

During the event, called WTF Content Marketing, Nissan, BP, TUI and HP, as well as agency experts from Karmarama, McCann and Ogilvy & Mather, weighed in on the challenges around distribution, new technologies, internal organization, influencers and measurement.

Here are four takeaways from the day’s discussions:

Internal reorganization is tough
It is important that brands and agencies be close in order to create relevant real-time content. But it’s tough. Rachel Hawkes, group social head at holiday and travel brand TUI, explained how the company is exploring a centralized approach to its content-creation process to help reduce duplication of work between international teams.

The company has 70 people creating content in the U.K. team for print, web and social. In Germany, it has 30, while other markets have fewer employees on content marketing in-house. The benefits of centralizing content for TUI include avoiding duplicate workloads and lowering costs, she said, meaning the company can move faster to create local content.

“If we have 3,000 beds in New York, we can send internal teams out to create social content that can be disseminated through the group,” she said. For TUI, which in the U.K. will be known as Thomson until next year,  the consistent messaging of a centralized approach is important for its rebrand.

Beware of platform panic
There’s no point in making content unless it has a structured distribution strategy behind it. Oil company BP identified seven different audiences that would be interested in its content, including prospective employees, the government, local communities and customers. They aren’t going to be found all on one platform; picking the biggest platform, the fastest-growing one or where your competitors are won’t lead to success.

“I’m not afraid of killing a platform,” said Ben Jefferies, global head of digital publishing at BP, adding that Facebook was the company’s biggest platform in 2010, but after seeing followers stagnate — it currently has about 250,000 followers — it started producing more content for LinkedIn. In two years, it grew its follower count from 200,000 to 1.2 million. “Map your content to the right audience, and build a framework around it,” he said. “Take the relevance of your content and what the audience wants to figure out, and put the platform at the center of that.”

Bots are the next brand experience
“Bots are an opt-in branded experience in a platform consumers trust,” said James Whatley, head of innovation at Ogilvy & Mather, adding that rather than creating brand apps, clients are increasingly turning to creating bots in Facebook Messenger. “You spend thousands on making the app, then you have to get people to download it, then you have to keep it updated.”

The agency has created successful campaigns for Stoptober, a charity that helps people stop smoking. While the results aren’t public yet, Whatley said the number of people saying this bot helped them stop smoking has been overwhelming. Bots that offer a utility, like airlines, are the best use-cases.

“In terms of advertising, it depends on the bot,” he said. “But I’d challenge [third-party advertising in messaging platforms]. These are sacred spaces. We’re at the sharp end; we’re thinking about utility here.”

Linking to ROI is still an issue
Brands continue to find it challenging tying content marketing to sales. For TUI, this meant linking each piece of user-generated content to a product page for its Crystal Ski Holidays site. But it’s not always about sales.

“ROI isn’t necessarily selling cars,” said David Parkinson, head of digital for Africa, Middle East and India at Nissan. “The investment isn’t always sales; it can be share of voice, reputation or awareness.”

With agency TBWA, the car brand created Agent 23 in Dubai. People were invited to sit in a Nissan Patrol, its latest SUV, and were filmed as if they were taking part in their own action film. It was a costly piece of marketing which generated content for each of the 1,000 people taking part. Parkinson said it was impossible to link to sales, but against the backdrop of fewer visits to car dealerships, giving people that interaction with the car is more useful than offering just a digital experience. “Beware of the shiny new thing,” he added.

Image: Courtesy of Nissan.


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