I’m going to knock on wood as I type this, but: It looks like we might have a (mostly) normal summer this year in the U.S. After the lockdowns, isolation, anxiety and fear of 2020, it finally feels like things are opening up.
This is all great for everything except getting people to read your marketing content. In 2020 we had a captive audience starved for entertainment. Now we’ll be competing with everything from music festivals to movies to walking in the park.
The way to break through and have a “hot brand summer?” First, don’t use phrases like “hot brand summer,” because you’ll just make people hate you. Second, it’s all about customer engagement. That means connecting with people on a personal level, offering something novel and fascinating, and using that contact to build a meaningful relationship.
No sweat, right? According to a recent survey, though, 54% of brands have trouble connecting with customers on an emotional level. And only 22% say they excel when it comes to customer experience!
How can B2B marketers make their content more engaging? Here are a few tips.
1 — Go Live
Uncensored. Interactive. Up close and personal. There’s nothing quite like a live stream to break free from safe and boring content. There’s a reason every social media site, from Instagram to LinkedIn, is doing live streams.
Granted, going live is not without its risks. If you’re concerned about potential slip-ups or off-message chatter, you can always practice ahead of time. Live doesn’t have to mean “completely improvised and unscripted.”
A few more tips for going live:
- Consider hiring a host to help keep the conversation flowing
- Have someone behind the scenes to watch the comment thread and engage the audience
- Use a tool like restream for multi-platform streaming
- Prime the pump for audience questions by having employees in the audience with pre-written questions.
- Make sure to record the stream for repurposing later
2 — Take People Behind the Scenes
“Authenticity” is one of those marketing buzzwords that makes an easy thing seem difficult. People like brands that are “authentic?” No, people like to know there are actual people of good will at work behind the brand’s messaging. That’s all authenticity means: Real people saying true things.
Let your employees be brand ambassadors on social media. Go behind the scenes to meet the folks who make your brand’s magic happen. Highlight employee stories, even if they aren’t directly related to the brand. For example, if an employee is an Eagle Scout who now runs their own scouting troop, that’s a heartwarming and engaging story that subtly shows off your brand values.
In short, when you’re going behind the scenes, look to celebrate your people and even your customers.
3 — Try Interactive Content
None of us would use a cellphone from the late 90s today. So why are we still so enamored of a content format that hasn’t changed in the past 30 years? That old standby, the static PDF, has lost a lot of its power to persuade.
Our agency has been seeing better results with interactive, animated assets. For example, this one from client Mitel brings our stats and influencer contributions to life. Tools like Ceros make developing an interactive asset almost as easy as a static one.
You don’t have to create an entire immersive VR experience to snag people’s attention, either — just a few touches of animation, interactivity and sound can go a long way.
4 — Explore Social-First Content
We all know how the blog to social media pipeline works: You publish a blog, link to it on your social media, and hope people click that link. If they don’t click through, it’s a lose-lose situation. Neither your brand nor your audience is getting any utility out of the content.
One way to change the equation is through social-first content: That is, content designed to be consumed right there in the social media feed. For B2B marketers, LinkedIn is the right destination for social-first content.
For example, consider slicing a blog post into 150-200 word segments and posting it on LinkedIn, with a hashtag to make it easy to find all the installments. Ask a question at the end of each segment that’s designed to elicit discussion, then participate in that conversation as long as it goes.
Ultimately, social-first content can help grow your brand’s social media presence and deepen relationships with your audience. And you can still collect the content and publish it as a blog later, too!
5 — Collaborate with Influencers
As you may have noticed, TopRank Marketing is pretty sold on influencer marketing. There’s one simple reason: When you do it right, it gets results. Every time. Everything from a social media post to a blog post to a 5,000 word interactive asset is better with influencer contributions.
We co-create content with influencers for many reasons, including:
- Increased organic amplification of the content
- More diverse and informative content
- Reaching new audiences
- Developing relationships with influential experts
Over time, you can build up a community of influencers to co-create content that benefits them, your brand, and your audience.
6 — Measure Engagement Metrics
One key element for increasing engagement is to … well … measure it. If you’re still looking at overall blog traffic or bounce rates to define your content success, you need to recalibrate your metrics to include engagement signifiers like:
- Comments on social media posts
- Reshares on social posts
- New social media followers
- Scroll depth on interactive assets
- Time on page for long-form blog posts
Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
Ready to have a hot brand summer (sorry)? It’s as simple and as complex as doing things that you haven’t done before. It’s pushing your brand away from the staid and static old-school B2B mindset and putting out content that people want to interact with, comment on, and share.
Need more proof? Here’s how interactive content for our client Prophix led to a 642% increase in engagement.