10 Content Marketing Takeaways From SXSW

SXSW brought some of the world’s best and brightest minds to Austin to discuss the future of digital marketing, and it should come as no surprise that content was discussed nearly as much as where to find free booze and barbecue. From latest apps to finding a new role for video, SXSW left everyone wondering how brands can improve on their current content strategy.

We’ve nailed down the top 10 takeaways from content marketers at SXSW—and how you can put their insights into action for branded content.

1. Understand your content marketing goals.

Many marketers are still just experimenting with content marketing, but that doesn’t mean that proper measurement can be put off for later. Much of the discussion at SXSW centered on how marketers need to go past shares and engagement and create smarter benchmarks to really gauge success.

The consensus? Set measurable goals from the get-go, and then funnel your resources to create content and distribution strategies that will deliver on those goals.

 2. And where to spend your dollars.

If you’re investing in content marketing, you already understand that traditional advertising might not deliver the impact your brand needs. But great content on its own isn’t a brand-building strategy; you need to get it in front of people. And the budget for that paid distribution can come from one key place: bloated banner spends.

 3. Content is everywhere…

Content marketing has the potential to be anything. So if you’re putting out another old white paper or blog post, it’s time to shift your focus. Consider what your audience really wants, be it a GIF, recipe, infographic, or behind-the-scenes essay. Show what your brand is capable of.

 4. … so make it fun…

Every time you post, ask yourself, “What does my audience gain by engaging here?” If you can’t answer that question, step away from the laptop and take a walk until you think of something worth sharing with the world.

5. … and make it applicable.

Have customers coming back to your brand for informative and useful content. It will secure your brand as a dependable resource and make you a more viable contender when customers are to convert.

6. But know how to define what content means for your brand…

It’s wonderful to jump headlong into content marketing, and there’s an infinite amount to explore. That said, help your team define what content means to your brand. By laying those guidelines, teams are better able to craft great assets that tie back to real brand goals.

7. … and above all else, employ strong writers.

A friendly reminder for brands everywhere: It takes a lot of good writing to cut through the clutter and make a brand narrative successful. Staff your teams accordingly.

8. To know thyself is to know thy audience.

Many brands start producing content with specific marketing aims and expect the audience to flock. Reverse that system and you’re looking at an eager audience who provides brands the topics that organically interest them. Red Bull (extreme sports fans), GE (science nerds), and Amex (small-business owners) are all great examples of brand publishers that serve their niche brilliantly.

(Full disclosure: GE and Amex are Contently clients.)

9. I.e., get on your fans’ level.

To get those topics, you need to be present where your audience is, and that’s where your big data and social listening skills need to come into play. But you still need to create content that makes sense for that platform, so don’t make things like Perrier’s bizarre party hub on Tumblr.

10. And earn their trust.

The buzzword to keep in mind here is authenticity. All the relevant content in the world won’t convince a wary customer to ‘like’ or support your brand if content reads as contrived.

High engagement comes from ascribing to what consumers already enjoy and helping include your brand in the conversation. And it doesn’t need to be #TheDress or another timely event to start the dialog. Consider what everyday instances pique the interest of your audience and help get them talking.

Feel like there’s more to content marketing at SXSW? We want to hear all about it. Let us know at @contently.

Image by Ultra 5280/Flickr

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