Few things captivate us like a good story. Marketers have been working to sprinkle the stardust of storytelling on their content since day one, and more recently have been trying to encourage conversational elements.
What does this mean for the actual structure of content? Are we witnessing the birth of a new structure for storytelling, or something less profound?
I recently asked Moti Cohen, CEO & co-founder at Apester, an interactive content platform, for his thoughts on the evolving structure of content marketing.
Paul Talbot: Consumer attention spans shrink. Platforms expand. What does this mean for the marketer who wants to tell their brand’s story?
Moti Cohen: In an arena dominated by platforms and tech giants, successful brands are now looking for new ways to build audiences that they can control and to bring the conversion and creation of their content in-house.
Google controls the method of discovery, social networks control the flow of traffic and user experience, and streaming giants control the distribution of content and the prestige of innovation within the arena.
At the same time, advertisers are struggling to hold user attention, and in a market redefined by the mobile experience and ruled by giants such as Facebook and Google, they continue to dream of a more balanced ecosystem.
To stand out, brands and advertisers alike are adopting content marketing strategies and producing high-quality, engaging content to be the relevant results in search drive shares and engagements on social platforms.
Talbot: What are some of the overlooked but effective ways for a new brand to get attention?
Cohen: As brands create more and more quality content, it’s a one-directional, lean-backward style of content that must also feed readers with information. They need to create a conversation around their content.
Brands shouldn’t stop at sharing their content outside their property on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit. But they should also bring the conversation inside.
Creating a conversation around your content has many faces: beyond asking the audience about their opinions or preferences in the context of an article, we see brands educating users on the topic with quick questions and detailed answers through a long-form quiz or getting their feedback on a video through an interactive video.
We also see brands adopting features that are offered by the big social platforms. They’re adding these social network-like features to their content to cater to consumption habits of today’s audiences. For instance, Netflix has developed its own story-like vertical format to promote its shows.
The New York Public Library has attracted some new readers with its ‘Insta Novels’ that brings classic literature to Instagram Stories.
Variety, Rolling Stone, and Marie Claire now incorporate native contextual Instagram-like stories within their content to engage their readers, and TV Insider has just added Facebook-style story highlights to their article page to encourage readers to consume more Comic-Con related content.
Talbot: The concept of creating engaging content for a brand to tell its story… what gets in the way of doing this successfully?
Cohen: Many brands are mistaken in resizing their experience to fit mobile devices.
As we’re in a mobile-first era, they must rethink their content and reshape its look and feel to adapt to mobile users. Brands should use formats that are best suited for the mobile narrative structure such as the story format, a format which was born by mobile apps for mobile users and has gained enormous popularity.
Brands should also think about a personalized experience and be more conversational in their nature and provide a sense of familiarity.
Talbot: What lessons can legacy brands learn from the changes in how people consume content?
Cohen: Reformatting and repackaging content into digestible, visual, interactive, and personalized story nuggets, or ‘beats’ works well.
It lifts time on site, social share rates, and conversion rates. Users also seek the personalization and contextuality that today’s AI-based interactive products provide. People now seek a more familiar content viewing experience.
Talbot: Any other thoughts you would like to share?
Cohen: Content marketing is today’s fastest growing branch of the marketing industry.
As brands start to adopt the publisher look-and-feel and push their content through social channels, they should also consider adopting the look-and-feel of these social channels in their content marketing.