The goal is no longer limited to creating branded messages that drive sales.
At the Software and Information Industry Association's (SIIA's) summit, David Meerman Scott's session, "Advertising and PR for Everyone," discussed transforming user-generated content (UCG) into marketing materials. The term he was "branded journalism."
Branded journalism is marketers' intentional, selective use of the conversation that surrounds a brand. The idea is to make use of the viewpoint set by the brand guardians and tap into UGC created both in- and outside of the company.
Traditionally, media companies controlled most content. They acted as a conduit for aggregating and distributing information, which they put into a context and format to reflect their viewpoint. Marketers subsidized this content with advertising (which provided distinct branded messages). There was limited, if any, consumer engagement.
The Internet expanded user engagement. As a byproduct, UGC was created and the publisher/marketer/consumer dynamic changed. Marketers can now tap into true feelings about and experiences with their brands. This authenticity strikes a chord.
Branded communications require a different perspective in regard to how a brand is embodied and experienced. The goal is no longer limited to creating branded messages that drive sales but rather to engage a broader audience and get them to experience your brand and product. In the process, this translates into a need to extend your role into that of an online publisher and to expand your content strategy.
What Branded Communications Mean for Marketers?
Once you've tapped into the conversation, capture and package the content, particularly those stories that support your brand. Colleen DeCourcy, chief experience officer at JWT, used the Ford Bold Moves campaign as an example when discussing this point.
Integrating Branded Communications Into Your Marketing?
You must think differently about your messages and where you place them. Here's how:
Measuring the Results
Depending on your implementation, your choice of metrics may vary. Some often useful metrics include:
As you consider using branded communications for your company, think about how to engage your audience, both internally and externally, in a dialogue. Once you've become part of the conversation, assess your options for using the content created to extend your company's branding. From a marketing perspective, this form of communications embodies the brand and helps articulate an authentic voice.
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Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.
Heidi is also a popular speaker on current industry topics.
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