How do you ensure the best branded content?

Being a ‘branded content’ maker is becoming more and more professional, and we are increasingly discovering what works and what doesn’t. Especially for those curious about effectiveness: a list of factors that positively influence the effectiveness of ‘branded content’ campaigns.

Experienced branded content directors

It helps to work with a team of content directors with a journalistic background who understand the titles well. Such an inquiry comes in via account managers based on a specific brand objective, but then it is useful to link the subject, the title, where we publish and the target group on that medium back to the advertiser. Once we have all that ready, the story will be published a day or three later.

Free hand

In my experience, the more space a commercial editor gets, the better the story will be received. That is because branded content-directors are, as I said, able to make a good translation for the audience that will eventually read a story. In short, if the client says ‘this is the subject and make something beautiful out of it’, then all will be well.

Of course, it is of no use to a customer if a story is not read. For example, we have created good stories in connection with ‘One against loneliness’, where the government draws attention to that topic. Of course, similar stories are a little easier to make because the government is all about the content anyway, but our experience is that it’s always best to do it in a real way. Just tell a good story.

Forget about trading (almost completely)

Branded content can be a good tool for selling, but even better for generating interest. Therefore, it is important to have sales as a goal, but we as writers must not exaggerate it. If a story is good enough, it sometimes ends up among the best-read articles in the dailies.

Essent, for example, wanted to say something about energy saving, and we made stories about people who could save extremely much on electricity. The interviews were very well read, and of course there was also a link to energy-saving products from Essent. It is the ultimate for us branded content. In the end, we are satisfied if it is read and if it also does something for the brand.

Make complicated costs understandable

It is a big challenge with branded content: there are often complicated issues with companies that we want to explain in a normal way to a wide audience. We are actually a kind of interpreter, translating the story of the advertiser into the story of the readers of a title.

For example, we did a series of stories for Shell, where we explain what the company is actually doing about the energy transition. We explain this compensation of emissions almost in Jip-&-Janneke language. We have often done that about investment or about cryptocurrencies. It is important that you explain what people do not understand.

Know something about marketing

To be able to do that translation, you need to know something about marketing. You need to be able to talk about terms like ‘KPI’ and ‘funnels’, which are of course a piece of cake for Emerce readers, but not for every content creator. It is also important to understand something about neuromarketing, such as that telling a story about a big loss has more impact than a story about making a big profit. So you’re saying you’ll leave $100 each month if you open your window instead of saying you’ll make $100 if you don’t. We also always give a minimum score of the number of people who will read the story, so we make sure to meet the goals.

Box separately

In short, there is something to be said for the effective use of branded content: it helps if a publisher works with people with extensive experience in journalism who can perfectly translate an advertiser’s goals to readers. It may seem easy, but it really is a profession in itself.

About the author: Tjerk de Vries is content director at brand studio MHX in Mediahuis Holland.

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