How to Make Your Content Stand Out

This story was originally published on Medium here

Producing Effective Scalable Content in a Competitive Digital Landscape

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The Current State of Content

Content marketing is extremely powerful and can lead to meaningful revenue for businesses. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as

“a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.

However, as the digital universe continues to expand, brands are being forced to produce more and more content in order to keep up. 20 years ago, brands could focus their time, energy and budgets on producing 4 high-quality content campaigns a year — one going out each quarter. Most of these campaigns had 1 key channel in mind: television. In today’s competitive landscape, those same companies are now producing more content pieces than ever before and on more channels, with Fortune 500 Companies producing, on average, over 4,000 content pieces a month (2017 Forrester Wave). With social media and ever-expanding content sharing platforms, that number only continues to grow.

What does this mean for the consumers that brands are trying to target? Being constantly bombarded with content, consumers have been forced to adapt — with ever decreasing attention spans and quicker than lightning decisions. In a matter of seconds, consumers know whether a piece of content is relevant and important to them and if they don’t deem it so, they’re quickly scrolling on to the next thing. Marketers need to be producing a higher volume of content a month, but in order for it to convert to meaningful ROI the content being produced needs to be high quality and personal. It’s important for marketers to realize this when planning out their content marketing campaigns. They need to look at the specific channels they will be using, what local markets those include, and how to tailor their messaging and visuals for each channel to capture their target audience effectively. The key is producing custom content rather than generic content. There are tons of specific strategies for doing this (too many to dig into here), but one that I find especially effective is using location specific visuals in targeted location-based campaigns. The important thing here is making sure the location is well recognized by the locals that you’re trying to target. For example, rather than choosing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, choose a hip local bar that only your target audience frequents.

The most adaptive marketers are realizing that they can use custom visual content in tandem with bigger advertising campaigns to create more cohesive and stronger results. This is because the consumer of the digital age now expects content to be hyper-personalized and are more likely to respond well to content that is custom and tailored to their interests. In fact, it pays off to be on top of the content marketing curve. The Content Marketing Institute claims that:

  • 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after viewing custom content
  • Website conversion rate is nearly 6X higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters

How to Scale Content Efficiently

So, we know that custom content is important, and because of social media brands need more and more of it. But how do brands go about scaling their content needs? Let’s talk about budgets for a second. 50% of content marketing budgets are allocated to the creation of the content, with 25% equally going to distribution/management and promotion (Content Marketing Institute). Creating custom assets is difficult, which is why marketers are spending half their budget on it. When talking about visual custom content alone, the options for sourcing are limited, and marketers are wasting even more money on the time it takes to source good content than the actual assets themselves.

Currently, when sourcing visual assets, marketers have two subpar options: stock photography or commissioned photographers (a third option is in-house, but since most marketers don’t have access to this option, we won’t discuss it here). Stock photography tends to be generic, overused, and often a non-option for product based brands (like Starbucks, or Beat’s headphones). In addition, it’s close to impossible to find shots that match your brand’s aesthetic which leads to tons of time wasted scrolling through pages and pages of content. If you do opt for stock, the good thing about it is that it is relatively affordable at scale and you can get it instantly. There’s no turnaround time because it’s already shot and produced, and most traditional stock sites offer competitive subscription pricing so that you can download the volume you need on a small budget.

The better option is hiring a pro freelance photographer to complete and deliver results because it leads to higher quality custom content. You’re able check out the freelancer’s portfolio in advance to ensure they’re right for the job, and give them clear directions about what you’re looking for. Although producing better quality results, the downside of this option is that it’s not scalable and requires coordination and turnaround time. When attempting to tackle certain regional markets, it’s essential to include visual content from those specific regions but finding freelancers in every geographical area you need shot becomes a logistical nightmare. Not to mention licensing rights might be difficult to negotiate with a freelancer.

The truth of the matter is that the current options are not addressing the scalability problem of current content needs, and it is economically impossible to attempt to make them work. Thus, newer Content-as-a-Service models are beginning to emerge to offer a scalable solution to the problem. They combine things like technology, machine learning, and crowdsourcing to deliver content in a smarter way. One of those platforms is called Snapwire, whose hybrid approach makes them unique. They have a community of 430K creators worldwide that are curated and sorted into photographer levels. Image buyers fill out a creative brief and send over brand guidelines to Snapwire’s dedicated creative team who handles logistical aspects. Then, their robust technological solution delivers incredible results, quickly and affordably. All photos that are not purchased from a custom photo request migrate over to their growing marketplace library of photos.

Snapwire removes the pain of discovery and negotiating price, saving time and logistical headaches. Brands get high-quality, on-brand content produced faster than any other method and get to download everything with a Royalty Free license. The most impressive factor is the scalability aspect when it comes to getting geographical locations shot. Because of their global community, brands are able to get on-brand content shot all across the globe. Snapwire has completed several extensive location-based shoots for Google, delivering shots of over 2,000 individual locations worldwide and 430 neighborhoods. Google continues to use Snapwire because of their ability to produce beautiful results at scale.

For more info about how Snapwire works, and how they can help you scale your content needs, email alexis@snapwi.re