Creating high impact brand content requires more than posting the occasional beautiful image or witty comment on your brand’s social media pages. Once you learn to master content creation, you will be able to increase brand awareness, better engage with your audience, and drum up more interest in your brand’s services or products.
Whether you’ve been hired as a content creator or are working on your own behalf, read on to learn the fundamentals of creating high impact brand content.
Content marketing is “any activity that uses content to help drive new audiences to a brand,” says Joanna Bowzer, senior content marketing manager at ClearVoice. Adds Vanessa Hadick, founder and managing director of Double Tap Marketing: “[It’s] creating any type of content, whether image-based or word-based, that is…useful and interesting to the audience but [also] helps to tell your brand’s story.”
The purpose of content marketing is to attract, engage, retain, and grow your audience. You can think of content marketing as catching a fish with tasty bait. By casting the lure of high quality, interesting, and consistent content, you entice your audience and drive them to action. That action may include anything that supports your brand, such as listening to a podcast, buying homemade goods, purchasing a car, or adopting a pet.
Content marketing is an umbrella term that Yvonne Lyons at RightSource separates into two categories: content strategies and content planning. Content strategies refer to the how and why of your content marketing. How do you plan to market content, and why will it help your brand? Content planning is the what and when of your content marketing. It involves the actual content you’re marketing and when you plan to do it.
To be a successful high impact brand content creator, you must use an approach that considers both methodologies.
If the purpose of content marketing is to help you reach your business goals, content strategy is how you plan to engage with your audience. Intriguing your desired audience is important to consider when making a successful content strategy. You want people to buy, subscribe, share, or otherwise use your products or services, so how do you plan to introduce yourself to them?
Consider these tips:
Use goals to drive content: What emotions and actions are you trying to elicit with your brand content, and what goals do they serve? A campaign seeking to build trust with their consumers will look different than one trying to increase brand awareness.
For example, let’s say your business goal is to increase revenue by 10% each year. One content strategy that could help you reach your goal is to use authentic, relatable photos (the how) to build trust and drive sales (the why) on Instagram. An alternative strategy might be hiring a social influencer with a similar audience to increase your brand awareness. Think about what you want your audience to do after engaging with your content, and then take actionable steps to let that shape the content itself and the delivery.
Your answer might be, “I want my audience to do it all!” We get it: You’re passionate about your brand, so you’re tempted to try and engage your audience in as many ways as possible. But as the saying goes, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Starting off with a manageable strategy based on your team’s capabilities will allow you to test, improve, and become efficient enough to scale your operation.
Know your audience: To be a successful content creator, you must understand exactly who your audience is and where they spend their time online. Pinpointing key demographic characteristics such as age, education, gender, geographic area, and income level should be a primary objective when brainstorming your content ideas.
For example, shoe brand Vans shifted its content strategy once it realized its popularity with skaters. The company began projecting a counterculture brand image targeting skateboarders; it ultimately opened multiple skateparks and sponsored the Warped Tour festival. By finding its target audience and revising its content strategy accordingly, Vans went from a shop selling only a dozen shoes to an international company with annual revenue in the billions.
A younger audience may lean toward amusing short-form video content on TikTok, while an older audience may enjoy nostalgic images paired with useful products on Facebook. You can use services such as Google Analytics or Hootsuite to learn more about your audience demographics.
Beyond those core elements, be sure to learn and study the information that your audience finds interesting. Conducting surveys and reviewing the popularity of your already-published content are great ways to gain deeper knowledge about your brand’s audience. Much of what makes content successful is having a keen understanding of just what makes your audience tick.
And remember, successful content is a two-way street. Having objectives on how your content strategies will support your business goals is a must, but don’t forget about what you should be doing to serve your audience. Beyond the potential for them to buy your product or use your service, what needs are you satisfying? Through your marketing content, are you helping them be part of a community, providing useful information, or giving them a respite from daily stresses? Be just as clear about how you can improve their lives as you are on how they can help you.
Choose your platforms wisely: Be sure to match both content type and desired audience to your chosen platform. Facebook users, according to Pew Research Center, cover an even spread of baby boomers, Gen X, and millennials. As the largest social media platform, it’s best for increasing brand awareness through advertisements. TikTok users are primarily Gen Z, followed by millennials, and this platform is good for building community through short-form video content. On Instagram, expect aesthetic advertisements to be a hit with mostly millennial users. Twitter’s millennial base and verbal focus makes it good for community building and PR. Twitch’s niche in authentic livestream content makes it a great place to build community among its Gen Z (and younger) demographic.
Once you’ve identified your content focus and audience base, it’s time to decide which digital platforms will best reach and serve your audience. Discord, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Spotify, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter, and YouTube are all viable options. So are a dedicated app, an email newsletter, or your brand’s website.
It’s a good idea to narrow down your platforms to a select few to best reach your audience. If your brand is aimed at a younger gamer audience, you may want to focus primarily on Twitch instead of spreading yourself thin across multiple platforms. Being a successful content creator means understanding how different platforms work for or against your intended audience, and then leaning into the ones that make the most sense for them and your marketing content. “If you prefer YouTube, go find your people on YouTube,” says Bowzer. “Don’t struggle with it. You’re probably similar to your customers. If you like to be on YouTube, chances are there are a bunch of customers there.”
“It’s a combination of knowing your brand identity and the message you’re trying to get across but also speaking to it in a way that’s relevant to that platform,” notes Haddick.
A content plan is the marketing workflow of what content you’re distributing and when. If you’ve ever used an editorial, social media, or publication calendar such as Airtable or Monday, you’ve had a content plan.
Keeping your content strategy in mind, your next step to creating high impact brand content is hammering out how to tap into your audience using a well-timed and engaging plan that includes your ideal frequency of posts, content type, and, of course, branding.
Put out regular content: Content is king. If you only post content sporadically, you might lose your audience to a brand that posts regularly.
More isn’t necessarily better, though. It really comes down to consistency. “Social media creates a system where you do have to be constantly updating,” says Hadick. “You post something to Facebook, it lives for a few days.”
Whether that means twice a day or once a week, find the frequency that you can adhere to no matter how hectic your schedule gets. This will encourage your audience to check in with your brand often.
“The search engines, the social media platforms, basically anybody that’s going to be hosting your content, [they] algorithmically favor recency,” says Bowzer. “When we think about either new content and having a good cadence or refreshing old content so it feels fresh, recency is a key component of it.”
Have a consistent brand voice: Speaking of consistency, remember to stay on brand in terms of tone, services, products, and aesthetic. Think Nike’s motivational “Just do it” mantra or Apple’s minimalist design. Some may consider consistency boring, but it can be confusing or even downright irritating to your audience if you post content that’s wildly out of line with the norm. Audiences crave familiarity, so give the people what they want by having a consistent voice.
“If your brand strongly features a founder or a person that’s the lead of the brand, you may decide to align the brand voice with that person’s voice,” Bowzer says. “In that case, you definitely would want to make sure it’s infiltrated through all the content that goes out. It doesn’t always have to be that person talking, but it should still be the same essence.”
If your brand voice doesn’t center on a single figure, “the way to really create consistency is to put together an editorial style guide that lists out the characteristics of the brand voice,” Bowzer advises.
Switch up types of content: Visually and topically, keep it fresh and interesting. If you generally post videos, try the occasional graphic or branded image. Or if you usually post topical content, mix it up with some written evergreen pieces—especially since that’s the kind of content audiences will return to in the future. It’s also the type of asset you can repost when appropriate.
Wait, what? Didn’t we just say be consistent? In tone of voice, yes; but for assets, it pays to switch it up to keep audiences intrigued by what else you might have to offer.
Keep an eye on industry trends: Taking stock of your competitor’s successes and failures “helps identify opportunity areas,” says Hadick.
“You can see certain terms and understand how hard it would be to organically rank for them in search results versus how much it would cost to do a paid ad,” she notes. “It helps to paint that picture of what the landscape looks like but also identify opportunities and what to incorporate on your own.”
Taking note of what is catching the attention of similar audiences and innovating within your brand’s industry. Try your best to avoid the kind of marketing that comes from focusing solely on your own strategies and content plan.
“Your competitors can give you some real clues as to what is working in the industry,” Bowzer says. “Competitive research and looking at your competitors isn’t about copycatting. It’s more about, ‘Oh interesting, they got a lot of traction with this last week. Is there a world where we should be talking about similar things? ’ ”
Work outside the digital space: Dig into where and how you can complement your content strategies with in-person networking, offline researching, and other types of marketing. Face-to-face marketing builds community and trust in a way that isn’t fully possible online. According to AgencyEA, 75% of consumers felt more connected to a brand after attending an offline event.
Depending on your brand, conferences can be a great way to exchange ideas with your peers and learn about boosting your content strategies and content plan. If your brand is in an industry such as travel, sports, or the arts, make a point to experience the very thing you’re trying to push out into the digital sphere. Showing that you’re an active participant indicates that you’re an authentic member of the community.
Determine what “high impact” means in the context of your brand. Is it conversions or shares? Comments or likes? Use “SMART” goals—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based—to better set you and your brand up for success.
You can’t truly master branded content creation if you don’t have metrics to measure success or a clear definition of what success looks like. Accountability is a key component of creating successful content. “Use data to measure and understand your goals rather than looking at it as demoralizing,” says Bowzer. “There is always something to learn in the data. That’s where the inspiration comes in.”
Often, this accountability is measured by key performance indicators (KPIs). Investopedia defines KPIs as quantifiable measures of performance that indicate achievement for a specific goal. KPIs are objective touchstones you can use to determine what’s working and what’s not. You can track KPIs in the following ways.
Monitor engagement: Are people reacting to your content? Are they commenting on your posts or sharing your links? Your analysis should always be guided by audience response to your content. Of course, you should give yourself a grace period when implementing a new strategy or plan to see if it will eventually take effect. But if you’re hearing only crickets, it’s time to shake up your content marketing.
Examine analytics and make decisions based on findings: Some KPIs, such as getting three comments per blog article, are easy to track on your own. Others, such as email clicks or keyword searches pertaining to your content, might require the use of outside resources or experts including Google Analytics or email campaign analyzers like HubSpot. You may switch up your headlines to generate more traffic through search engine optimization (SEO), or use different images to see if your audience prefers one over the other. Like most things in life, finding the best brand content is largely a matter of trial and error.
Remember that you need this knowledge to make informed adjustments to your marketing strategies and plan for improving content. “[It’s about] what appeals to them, what gets their attention, what would incentivize them or motivate them to take a deeper peek. It’s about constantly putting yourself in the mindset of a consumer and thinking like a consumer,” says Hadick.
For example, to achieve better numbers in your analytics, you should ensure that your audience will find your content easily. After all, even the most high quality content can’t make an impact if people don’t see it. Use SEO strategies to increase discoverability and employ viral content features (hashtags, embedded share links) to encourage audience interaction. Applying each platform’s native features, such as polls or chat options, will take your content impact to the next level.
By giving proper attention to the two central aspects of content marketing—content strategies and content planning—you can create a strong and resilient foundation for how to engage an audience with attention-grabbing, engaging, action-provoking, and overall successful content.