How can content marketing continue to have value to both brands and consumers in an increasingly over-saturated ecosystem? Content Marketing’s Next Big Focus, an event sponsored by the BBC in Singapore, explores the future of this space, and the notion of content “stewardship” within brands.
Editorial vs. advertorial
“Brand journalism; is it even a real thing?” asks moderator Rezwana Manjur, Editor of Marketing magazine. “Can objectivity exist?”
For John Williams, VP of South Asia at BBC Worldwide, there is a clear distinction between objective editorial, and content marketing. “Brand journalism doesn’t have to be less than, or worse than, the editorial content.” Increasingly, he has noticed, branded content actually performs better than editorial in terms of shares on social.
There’s editorial, which must remain objective, and then there’s content marketing – and the distinction is clear, says Williams. “But it doesn’t mean there’s any loss of value… It doesn’t have to be less than, or worse than, the editorial content.”
Norliza Kassim is Head of Digital Content at Global Digital Marketing Standard Chartered Singapore. She feels that brand journalism, or content marketing, or whatever you want to call it, is in fact “the truest form of marketing,” in that it is about connecting with the customer better — in the right way, and at the right time. There is also evidence backed by neuroscience, she says, to suggest that sharing stories sparks activity in more parts of the brain than simply conveying information, which she believes is a “powerful opportunity.”
Not that there aren’t challenges. “A lot of people have gone down the newsroom route, and it hasn’t worked for them,” says Williams. Deborah Goldingham, MasterCard’s Head of Marketing for Southeast Asia, adds: “It’s a significant investment to get it right,” describing the balance MasterCard strikes between campaign-related content and outsourced PR.
“With social listening tools, we’re actually publishing content in real-time,” she says. And while the team might not know 100 per cent of what they’re going to produce going into a campaign, they do know the strategy. Goldingham cites “real-time listening, creative, and publishing” as what drive truly “phenomenal” results.
No such thing as perfect
Sara Varela is Social Media Strategist at Marina Bay Sands and ArtScience Museum in Singapore. To her, the most important qualities you can have in content marketing are “being able to live in the moment, and being certain in uncertainty.” She advises that creators should always be prepared for the worst to happen, even if it flies in the face of their meticulously laid plans.
That’s a lesson Goldingham tries to impart too.
“One of the challenges I have with our creative teams is they want the world to be perfect, and it’s not,” she says. “People have gone through hardship, it’s not always a fairytale ending, but we’re going to help them in a certain way, and as long as we’re enabling that priceless possibility for that person, it doesn’t have to be a perfect world.”