Tom Salvat
Tom Salvat 5 October 2018

AI and Content Marketing: How to Become a King of Content

In the increasingly overloaded internet era, it’s harder than ever for brands to stand out from the crowd. Where once, content marketing offered an opportunity for differentiation, now even business the size of the Walt Disney Company, Apple and Google are creating, curating and promoting its own content online.

In order to be heard above the noise, today’s brands need to get smarter when it comes to their content marketing efforts. They need to identify the content that resonated most successfully with their target audiences and calculate exactly what it was that made that content so successful in the past – and what could continue to make it successful in the future. To achieve this however, they need significant quantities of data and a machine powerful enough to analyse it all. This has only become possible in the age of artificial intelligence (AI).

So just what are the insights that AI is able to deliver when it comes to content marketing? The CONCURED platform’s artificial intelligence has been applied to examine this exact question. By analysing thousands of pieces of content marketing from the world’s top brands, the research study represented the first of its kind to ever try and truly understand what it is that makes brands so effective in their content marketing approach.

CONCURED’s AI found that, in terms of written materials, the Walt Disney Company is currently the most successful content marketer in the world, receiving more engagement than Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon combined. According to the AI analysis, Disney achieved an astonishing 4.7 million engagements from 1,300 articles produced – or over 3,500 responses to every article that it published. 

When it comes to video content, however, Walt Disney fell behind all of these brands. Microsoft topped the table as the ‘King of Video’ with nearly a billion views across over 500 videos. No other major brand – including Facebook, Coca-Cola, and Wells Fargo – could compete in terms of the number produced andthe number of views.

So just what is it that makes these brands so successful when it comes to content strategy? And how can we as marketers learn from them to improve our own content marketing approach? To get started in answering these questions, here are five key lessons that CONCURED’s AI teaches us about the content strategies of the world’s most successful brands:

1.  Know Your Audience

Plenty of brands try to divide and conquer with their content, attempting to appeal to a wide variety of very different niches rather than focusing on a handful of core audiences. While the growing use of personalisation technologies is helping to make this approach more effective, often it is better for brands to select one or two core audiences and get to know them really well.

To take Disney as a well-known example, its content specifically targets a young audience, despite its various franchises accommodating an immense range of different demographics. Its content is bitesize, short-form, and makes regular use of images and videos that include established iconography such as its theme parks and its most well-known characters. 

CONCURED’s AI also found that Disney, perhaps unsurprisingly, focuses its content marketing towards Facebook and Twitter users rather than those on LinkedIn. To engage with an audience, you have to go where the audience is. The medium of delivery can make or break content.

Lesson 2: Be Human

The information overload that the CONCURED AI is helping people to cut through has encouraged something of a suspicion towards global brands. Social media and news outlets are regularly reporting on brand behaviour, and modern businesses have responded by emphasising their human side.

Apple is one of the most successful brands in this regard. CONCURED’s analysis found that stories relating to Apple’s renewable energy projects, it’s job creation initiatives and human stories about CEO Tim Cook drove the most traffic by far. 

Of course, for such content to be successful, it has to have integrity. Paying lip service to good causes without the action to back it up can be extremely counter-productive, so brands need to be hyperaware of how their content marketing matches up with consumer perceptions and their actions in the real world. 

Lesson 3: Make the Most of Video

The accessibility of video, as opposed to written content, has seen global brands dedicate a huge amount of resource to developing original, high quality video content online. Videos not only provide an engaging format for consumers, they also provide an opportunity for business to further showcase their human side, by adding personality, emotion and putting a face to the brand.

Of all the brands analysed by CONCURED’s AI, Google produces some of the most effective video content. By focusing heavily on cinematic visuals and highly targeted content, Google has successfully developed promotional videos that its audiences genuinely want to engage with.  In an age saturated by promotional materials, the idea of consumers going out of their way to watch an advert is testament to the power of Google’s cinematic content creation.

Lesson 4: Be Ubiquitous, But Don’t Flood the Market

While brands need to be able to maintain a consistent and varied content stream, quantity does not necessarily equal quality. Sometimes it’s better to stagger content and to realise that there needs to be a balance between content production and oversaturation.

Microsoft is an interesting example of this, as the software giant produces immense volumes of content compared to its competitors (nearly five times more than Apple). However, the content that it produces doesn’t overpower the target audience. Instead, Microsoft’s content targets select consumer and enterprise groups, incorporating different interests and topics while retaining a consistent quality and messaging. Volume does not become an issue unless it’s achieved by sacrificing specificity or quality.

Lesson 5: Write to Inform

It’s often assumed that brands need to constantly write about their own industries in order to engage effectively with their target audiences. This is important for small brands, but the most successful don’t necessarily need to write about how they operate in order to attract attention. Once a brand is established in its sector, the focus of content marketing can shift to those products and services that are not yet leaders in their market segment.

Amazon is the perfect example of this approach. Despite being one of the world’s largest retailers, Amazon very rarely produces thought leadership in the retail space. Instead, CONCURED’s AI found that Amazon focuses the majority of its content towards business and IT professionals, building its profile in the cloud computing space (where it doesn’t yet have total dominance) rather than focusing on its well-established retail operations.

While not all brands will have the content marketing budgets of Amazon, Microsoft or Google, any business can learn from their success. Now, as artificial intelligence makes it easier than ever for brands to analyse the content marketing of their competitors, this success will rapidly spread to any business willing to question and learn from the best.

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