Blue Fountain Media recently joined a select group of top marketers to give a masterclass on content marketing, hosted by Masterclassing in New York. The session focused on how to create content that attracts consumer engagement- the kind that boosts brand reputation and success.

Among the featured speakers was BFM Head of Marketing, John Marcinuk. In his presentation, John outlined what he sees as the aspects of a content marketing strategy that produce strong consumer engagement.


The Power of Consumer Participation

Marketers generally understand that content marketing should be more than a series of hard sells. Brands should offer content that is valuable to consumers, whether it’s informative, entertaining, or emotion-inducing. Once brands create valuable content, they must decide how best to amplify it, adopting smart promotion strategies and understanding which channels perform best.

But what do consumers do once useful content goes live? Content marketing strategies ought to consider how (and not just whether) people will respond to content. But many don’t. Consequently, brands use ineffective tactics for engagement, losing an opportunity to connect consumers with the brand.

The ways in which users interact with content matters. Take, for example, this Food Republic tweet ranking styles of French fries. The ranking garnered tens of thousands of likes, comments, and retweets- an enviable level of engagement, to say the least.

What made a French fry infographic so captivating? People had the opportunity to share what they thought. Imagine if the ranking had instead been a straightforward list of French fry types. It’s hard to imagine the Twitter world becoming invested in a passionate (and engaging) debate over French fries then.


Tactics that Drive Productive Engagement

Unproductive engagement leaves consumers lacking a sense of connection to the brand, but productive engagement can generate leads, make a brand more memorable, and engender brand loyalty. In order to effectively connect the consumer with the brand, content should create space for people to participate.

One way to do so is through personalization. Content that connects with individual consumers- think a bottle of Coca-Cola with your name on it- tends to perform well. But content personalization often requires big budgets and big data- luxuries few brands possess.

Interactive content offers a potential solution, allowing consumers to self-personalize, so to speak. BFM employed this tactic for our work with Service King, a collision repair provider. We created a safety map that presents road safety hazards across the country and invites users to select particular hazards, from deer and snow to coffee and UFOs, and see how common each hazard is in the user’s state. Users engage with what interests them. As a result, they connect with the brand and are more likely to remember Service King the next time they find themselves in need of collision repair.

Brands sometimes turn to user-generated content (UGC) to drive participation, but often, they’re asking a lot and giving very little. An example of smart UGC is EasyJet’s 20th anniversary campaign. EasyJet invited passengers to submit photos of their holiday experiences and published 100,000 of them- on a plane. What set this campaign apart? EasyJet engaged by giving back to its customers in an eye-catching way.


The Takeaway

Good content offers value, but great content invites participation. Curating content that considers how users will interact with it can be the key to setting your brand apart.