The Internet has more or less given every company the ability to become a publisher. Consequently, people are finding a lot more stuff that has been created in-house by a brand that just so happens to help support the brand’s product. There are a few names for this tactic: brand journalism, content marketing and inbound marketing are probably the most common.
Rather than relying on outside media for coverage of a new product, businesses are going straight to consumers with branded media. But does this work? And is your audience going to trust promotional content about a new product or service that’s coming right from the vendor?
A new study says yes. But only if you have other people to back that content up.
The latest research on what consumers think about branded content comes from Kentico, a CMS software provider. While 74 percent of participants said that they trust the things that brands are creating around products and services, there are some conditions.
First, the content has to educate readers about a certain topic. Second, and more importantly, the content has to be corroborated by third-party sources.
Kentico discovered that a piece of content that has no third-party sources backing it up sees a hefty 46 percent drop in consumer trust.
No matter how much branded content is reaching consumers, the ease of researching something online means that people are going to find out if the content is actually true or not. An erroneous product claim or statement can quickly be revealed through online reviews and social media.
This only emphasizes the continuing importance of building relationships with industry thought leaders and, consequently, of integrating your PR team with your content marketing efforts. Analysts, journalists and other influencers are key to effective branded content.
A blog post that educates readers about the importance of analytics and suggests a new master data management solution will be far more effective if it links to an objective analyst report about the same MDM solution.
Under the Bridge
There’s no way to emphasize the importance of third-party sources. Or how diverse those third-party sources really are. What is a “source” these days? Another blog post? A study from a consulting firm? A newspaper piece? An analyst report? A great piece of press coverage?
Or what about peer comments and reviews?
While brands have the power to be publishers, so, too, do customers. The impact of online reviews, personal blogs or a single derogatory tweet should never be underestimated. Consider that:
- 90 percent of people say that online reviews influence their purchasing decisions
- 85 percent take a look at reviews before buying something
Brands need to think about how influencer relations programs can help tell the brand’s story, connect with customers and relate back to their own content marketing strategies.
Whatever your acquisition plan at this point, every business is a social business. Content helps you join the conversation and can build the brand, but only if it’s a conversation that includes customers, peers and influencers who can validate it.
*Post originally appeared on March Communications' blog, PR Nonsense, by Blaise Lucey