As a result of integrtion of pyschical world and digital world, amount of media consumption of people has been gradually increasing. According to Bohn and Sort average media consumption of an average person on a daily basis is calculated as 100.500 words and this means 34 gigabytes in digital form. Starting from this point, it is natural to expect a decrease of interest towards branded content. In a chaotic atmosphere with full of messages, content marketing offers new opportunities to brands for engaging with their target audience. Practice of content marketing is used by various institutions of different kind and scales such as NGO’s, holdings, SME’s and start-ups.
Search popularity of the term “content marketing” on Google (see Graphic 1) proves that popularity of this practice has been increasing steadily since 2011.
Content marketing is a practice-oriented issue which needs a theoretical framework and needs to be addressed in an academical context. And this situation requires that it should have a definition! There are several definitions of content marketing.
One possible definition, according to the Oxford Dictionaries (N.D.) is as follows: “A type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.”
Content Marketing Institute (N.D.) has a different approach when it comes to define content marketing: “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”. This should be underlined, profitable action does not necessarily mean sale, its description can be varied as brand awareness or visibility, engagement and creating brand ambassadors.
Lieb (2012), content marketing aids in brand recognition, trust, authority, credibility, loyalty and authenticity. In addition to this it helps to make customers more educated and informed. And maybe, this infographic prepared by Marketo which shows difference between content marketing and traditional advertising could be useful in order to develop an understanding on content marketing.
Complementally, goals of content marketing are portrayed as generating value, emotional connections and creating an environment where stories, which define the brand, are born (Clerck, 2014). According a news on Content Marketing Instute, studies have confirmed that emotion is a major factor in decision-making at any level. Even something as simple as sharing a post on your Facebook timeline involves some level of emotion. At this point, we should take a look to practice of storytelling because it has connection with content marketing and might be useful tool in order to establish emotional contact with target audience.
In postmodern world, individuals need more than a product! Jørgensen et. al. (2010, p.15) describe consumer and consumer behavior in postmodern context as following: “Today, in the postmodern world, the individual is in focus[…]Now the consumer is in control. The individual defines him- or herself through individualized consumption and thereby shapes his or her own reality. This consumption is a product of our cognitive and emotional state and reflects our values and stances on various subject […] Postmodernism emphasizes that quality alone is not sufficient to capture the attention and loyalty of the customers. Value, to the postmodern customer, lies in the connoted value and image that both the product, brand and the corporation signify.”
According to Pospíšil (2010), consumers have direct influence on production and they have individuality which is divided into several different personalities. This situation makes consumers highly unpredictable. On the other hand, division of individuality has disbanded “mass community” feeling. According to him, fellowship feeling is provided by the consumption. Consumers become member of a specific community by buying specific brand. For instance, feeling belonged to skateboard culture by wearing sneakers and wearing luxury swatch in order to feel belonged to business world.
Regarding to fore-mentioned concepts, it is possible to indicate that brand stories have vital importance for increase uniqueness of brands. At this point, storytelling able to strengthen position of a brand on consumers’ mind. For instance, a brand which sells bottled water has nearly no option to differentiate its product. At this stage, creating a brand story makes an appearance and a regular bottled water transforms into a bottled water which comes from Alpes in mind of the consumers.
According to Fog et. al. establishments do not compete on parameters such as product design or technical finesse. They proposed that real challenge is building solid values. It should be stated that stories are one of the oldest information transmission techniques. Storytelling gains importance when it comes to transmitting those values to target audience and values allow individuals to define themselves in society. According to Serrat, storytelling is the vivid description of ideas , beliefs , personal experiences , and life-lessons through stories or narratives that evoke powerful emotions and insights. According to Miller (2011) story can be defined as, a series of events.” Today stories have been used more strategically from education to branding. Stories have warm communication aspects and they are efficient tools in order to transmit information in more personalized context. Serrat (2008) underlines that analysis might excite the mind but it does not offer an easy route to the heart. This proposition verifies that well-designed brand story is a good tool to deliver brand aura to target audience and create a positioning for brand.
“Miller points out that a story has eleven different elements: characters, place, time, storyline, sensory elements (smells, flavors, colors etc.) , objects (clothing, costume) , characters’ gestures and attitudes , emotions, narrator’s point of view, narrator’s tone of voice and theme. It is possible to suggest that these elements might be tailored in terms of the brand story based on the features of target audience.” Because individuals are inclined to navigate the world using symbols and visual expressions (Fog et. al. 2005, p.18) and a brand story is efficiently able to deliver all these aspects.
Relation of Content
Marketing and Storytelling We have mentioned that content marketing is based on creating and sharing online materials such as videos, blogs, social media posts, etc. When we think carefully, we need to highlight that these content forms are appropriate for storytelling. Content marketing provides to surround customers since it aims to reach the target audience via several forms and platforms like social networks, search engines, e-books, etc. In the context of content marketing, contents which are not a promotion tool with strong-worded and which help people when they needed can provide customers to read brand stories more eager. It can also make customers to be involved to story creation process because of openness to interaction of platforms. The more interaction provides more sharing and spreading of the story.
Target market segments which has different features can be accessed via each channel within content marketing. For example, ‘Mobil Texting and Social Media 2015’ report indicates that %64 of internet users between ages of 50-64 use Facebook while this proportion declines to %11 for Instagram. On the basis of this example, it is possible to say that a computer company can access to older people who read newspapers and pay the bills via Facebook whereas it can reach younger people who play online games through Instagram. This shows that content marketing gives an opportunity to tell brand stories to different target audiences through different channels and content types.
Content marketing enables the creation of stories and having a story also promotes to the content marketing process. In other words, both of them contributes each other. Because content marketing is planned with the idea of encouraging positive emotions, entertaining and training people. In this process, it is vital to have a story. When a story is created and people interact with this story, effectiveness of contents increases and this makes brand more powerful.