Successful content marketing programs hinge on the 3 Cs – content, context, and communication. When these techniques are applied correctly, everyone wins: publishers engage their audiences through high-quality content, and marketers leverage this symbiotic relationship to deliver transparent brand messages that convert readers into real consumers. When any one of these three Cs isn’t adhered to, readers are quick to ring the alarm – perhaps the best recent example is the debacle that ensued from the Church of Scientology’s sponsored post in The Atlantic. As content grows as a marketing “must-have,” here’s a quick rundown of what the three Cs mean to both publishers and brands:
- Content. When readers consume quality content, they engage with it – and ultimately share it – because it provides value to their social networks. When publishers view sponsored content as a natural extension of their editorial calendars (and marketers respect the need for authenticity), audiences are more inclined to share what they see. Readers flock to the Oh Joy! blog for beautiful lifestyle content rooted in author Joy Cho’s unique perspective. This post incorporates a branded message while staying true to the editorial style and imagery Cho is known for.
- Context. Successful content marketing campaigns put a brand’s message in the right place at the right time. (You wouldn’t expect to see a post on leather handbags on your favorite vegan food blog, would you?) Content marketing has to be an invited guest or it will stick out like a sore thumb. Devour readers come to the site to engage with and consume the latest and greatest viral videos. It makes perfect sense for a cool sponsored video (like this one produced by Cadillac) to be showcased on the site.
- Communication. Savvy readers can smell inauthenticity a mile away. Publishers should always be upfront and disclose the origin or motivations for sponsored content. Such transparency sets an audience up for a successful reading experience and makes them feel more comfortable with a brand providing that content and experience. This post from Little Green Notebook details the author’s history with the sponsoring brand and encourages dialogue from readers who share in her affinity.
When high-quality content and appropriate context are missing from the equation, readers feel violated by both the publisher and marketer, breaking down the entire publisher-marketer-audience ecosytem. Paying attention to the three Cs keeps everyone happy as brands and publishers work together to evolve the content marketing landscape.
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