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By now, most businesses have gotten the message: Content marketing is more popular than ever, and it’s not going anywhere any time soon.
As content marketing replaces traditional marketing efforts across the board--70 percent of B2B marketers are generating more content than they were a year ago--companies of all sizes are creating their own publishing houses to consistently pump out content that is not only useful, well-researched and educational, but also entertaining and inspiring.
The B2C Content Marketing report, for example, found that 50 percent of B2C marketers expect their budgets to increase. Meanwhile, content marketing was rated as the most important digital marketing trend for 2015, as seen in the graph below.
In the content marketing landscape, there are big players--and then there are big duds. To aid you on your mission to becoming a brand that does content marketing right, we’ve hand-picked 20 companies who set themselves apart from the rest. Whether they excel at innovation, engagement, design, or simply making the lives of millions easier, these are big and small companies who are giving content marketing a good name and showing it works:
This social media platform is one of the most successful content marketers out there today. By encouraging its members to publish original and well-researched, longform content, the platform has created countless educational and promotional opportunities for brands looking to get their names known. Its library of content created specifically for digital marketers is also chock full of insightful industry advice and expert tips in the form of ebooks, presentations, and webcasts.
This tech giant is another big name excelling at content marketing. Just take a look at its resources page, and you’ll find a treasure trove of analyst papers, infographics, case studies, and videos. Although this information may be on the technical side, there’s also its blog, which sets itself apart by the breadth and depth of the issues covered. You’ll find, for example, a post on finding a cure for Ebola and a raising interest in the STEM field among middle schoolers.
If you’re looking for inspiration on how to create high-quality content, the Stanford Graduate School of Business does an excellent job of providing insightful and linkworthy information in its digital publication Insights. From organizational behavior to political economy, a broad range of topics are covererd here.
With approximately 1.1 million visitors a month, Coca-Cola’s digital magazine Journey has been wildly successful at creating audience-focused and interactive content. On their front page, for example, they feature a section for sharing your own personal stories of the best Coca-Cola you’ve ever had.
If there’s a brand out there who knows how to do content marketing and expert storytelling, it’s Microsoft. The digital media site Microsoft Stories far surpasses the light and fluffy corporate blogs with 500-word posts. In a style more evocative of the New York Times than Buzzfeed, this site inspires and impresses with its 5000-word long multimedia feature stories, such as Independence Day and UL: Mayhem That Matters.
GoPro is a company that creates high-quality video cameras that are small enough to be record footage from anywhere. It is only natural that they would make use of the high-quality footage created by their cameras everywhere in the world, whether on land, by sea or air, to launch a self-hosted video site. From skydiving and surfing to underwater sports, these videos prove to visitors and potential customers that their products live up to all the sales hype.
This online beauty products retailer has an expertly executed blog that does its job of offering truly useful advice and also gently persuading its visitors to browse products and eventually purchase them. The above video, for example, gives readers valuable tips on how to trim a mostache or beard.
GE also hits the mark when it comes to publishing original and provocative content. From Pulitzer-prize winning photographers to Forbes journalists, GE has recruited top-notch talent to create high-quality content that gets picked up not only by industry experts, but audiences in general and even the media. They’re also one of the few brands actually doing storytelling right, as seen in the video above.
Lyft, a ride-sharing company and main competitor of Uber, also does an exceptional job when it comes to brand storytelling. So few companies know how to weave narratives effectively, but Lyft’s #whyILyft site tells intriguing stories through the use of interesting, personable and real-life characters and great, eye-catching design.
In its seamless integration of social media buttons, stunning photography, impeccable design and product information, Maybelline also features here as an expert content marketer. The end result is a pleasant and natural user experience that leads visitors to stay longer on the site and even purchase a product or two.
The American online retailer ModCloth is a prime example of a company who knows its customers well. One of the keys to successul and effective content marketing is really being familiar with your audience and what they care about--from their favorite hobbies to their most pressing problems. ModCloth does this well by crafting posts that speak directly to their target audience with culturally savvy and clever insights.
With so much competition out there, crafting original and unique content is always a daunting challenge. But the venture capitalist firm First Round Capital knows how to consistently find alternative angles to much-discussed topics, as is seen in this post on a tool startups can use to generate ideas and take the risk out of creating innovative business models.
The majority of the population learns visually--65 percent, to be exact--so any content that is complemented by attractive visuals is sure to fulfill its purpose of communicating effectively and reaching its target audience. Take, for example, the B2B company Intercom. Instead of using random and aesthetically pleasing images, they use the top space of posts to present the written information contained within the post in a simple, visual format, as is done in this example.
Now that we’ve covered some of the big names, here are some examples of smaller organizations that are also shaking things up in the content marketing world. Take, for exampe, the family-owned, Tennessee-based real estate company Memphis Invest. It clevely uses YouTube to broadcast a reality TV show featuring one of its employees as its host. In every episode, the real estate agent examines a property and explains step-by-step how he determines its dollar value.
Also a lesser-known name, ZenDesk offers customer support software. The mere thought of support ticket software is enough to bore anyone, but ZenDesk does an outstanding job of making their product relevant to a wider audience. By resorting to expert storytelling that keeps you entertained from start to finish--as seen in the video above--ZenDesk makes traditional marketing and advertising look like child’s play.
After its popular social media series @SummerBreak, which got 60 million views, AT&T is not afraid to try out all different types of platforms to target Millenniials. They’ve sponsored a new series called SnapperHero, for example, which is a Snapchat series featuring Vine, Snapchat and YouTube influencers.
If there’s a company out there that knows how to effectively use Vine in its content marketing efforts, it’s the Home Depot. Featuring a series of creative and amusing short, looping videos, the Depot’s Vine feed is not only entertaining to watch, it also provides a ton of useful and quick how-tos and DIY advice.
By emulating Buzzfeed’s style--with content categories such as “yum,” “silly,” “awww” and “oh, snap!” Disney’s site makes corporate news fun and enticing. It also has a section for quizzes, where you can test your knowledge on everything Disney, from sitcomes to movies.
Another huge content marketing star is Gatorade. It recently won the Grand Clio Sports award for a 2014 film called “Made in NY” (see above). Just in time for the football season, it’s also launching a reality TV-style series “Sweat It to Get It.”
Last, but not least, there’s Apple. Like some others on this list, it knows how to tell a story, as evidenced by its popular spot, “The Song,” seen above. Its site, Real Stories, is also dedicated to giving real examples of how teachers are using Apple products to reinvent teaching and learning.