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Ad campaigns come and go, but stories endure. As the Pulitzer Prize-winning audio historian, Studs Terkel, said: “People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being. Storytelling is a form of history, of immortality too. It goes from one generation to another”.

Brands can build audiences with content that contributes to a relevant, human conversation.

Below are five brands that have taken the time to get their content strategies right by keeping their overarching purpose clear.

1. Tell a story that matters

Intel: 23,718,638 likes on Facebook, 2,448,111 Twitter followers

In the tech world, it’s the glossy consumer brands like Apple and Google that steal headlines.

Determined to buck this trend, Intel, the $54bn semiconductor chip company, launched iQ by Intel. With a publishing platform curated by the company’s researchers and engineers, Intel hopes to connect with a younger audience and tell them the bigger story behind the brand, beyond PCs and processors.

The magazine-style site features both original content and aggregated news stories. It puts curatorial control in the hands of the company’s 100,000 employees.

By passing on ownership, the site functions as a true expression of the company collective voice.

2. Think of content as commerce

Mr Porter: 775,473 likes on Facebook, 162,566 Twitter followers

As the distinction between brands and publishers becomes increasingly blurred, so does the line between content and commerce. Fashion editors are taking positions at leading ecommerce sites and traditional publishers are introducing e-shops.

Consumers are also becoming more demanding, expecting retailers to present them with more than just a product, but an entire lifestyle to go along with it.

The high end men’s fashion site Mr Porter feels like a beautiful online magazine, rather than a retail destination. By layering promotions and products under editorial content— how-to tips, video manuals, photo spreads, a weekly journal and call-to-action messaging — the site creates an immersive digital experience.

3. Meet audiences where they are

American Express OPEN:  336,735 likes on Facebook, 200,527 Twitter followers

Attracting your customers’ attention means moving beyond traditional banner advertising to social and mobile platforms that move as fast as they do.

The award-winning educational and networking community, OPEN Forum, was founded by American Express in 2007 with the aim of helping small businesses grow.

The OPEN Forum arms entrepreneurs and small-business owners with practical information, such as how to use Facebook effectively or ways to improve mental toughness. The platform also enables small business owners who have an American Express OPEN card to create a profile, share ideas and market their own companies.

By syndicating the content through RSS feeds, widgets, rich video and conversational ad units, American Express brings stories to the user when and where it is most relevant.

This also provides Amex with deep insight into how its content is performing around the web so that it can understand who is consuming it, how it’s being used and on which platforms.

4. Build a content strategy that is affordable and sustainable.

Orange: 364,922 likes on Facebook, 60,589 Twitter followers

Despite the buzz about content marketing, many companies find that maintaining a robust blog drains resources.

While investing in a full editorial team is not feasible for many; building an affordable, sustainable content marketing strategy can be an achievable goal – you just have to be smart about how you execute it.

Orange wanted to build its content-marketing strategy and expand their offer as one of the leading destinations in Europe for entertainment news. While the vision was ambitious, Orange’s marketing team was also already stretched.

Rather than hiring an editorial team, it used licensed, curated content to deliver real-time news across four languages. The team created an entertainment portal that gave people a new way to interact and share entertainment news and multimedia content—whether it was on web, tablet or mobile.

Orange’s marketing department took on the role of curator rather than content creator, allowing the company to spend their time and dollars on other initiatives without sacrificing quality.

5. Be a platform for action

GE: 1,009,253 likes on Facebook, 174,558 Twitter followers

Great content marketing isn’t about promoting your product or service; it’s about providing a platform for action. In a crowded marketplace, the brands that stand out foster genuine community and inspire action around a bigger cause.

GE’s brand purpose, 'Imagination at Work,' brings the company’s 310,000 employees together around a shared business strategy: creating new value for customers, investors and society by helping to solve energy efficiency and water challenges.

With ‘ecomagination’, GE offers its readers a “forum for fresh thinking and conversation about clean technology and sustainable infrastructure.”

All of GE’s content—from daily posts on topics like LED light bulbs and preventing deforestation— hits on this core purpose. The key take away? To stand out, reach more people and grow, you need to build a content-marketing strategy around a purpose bigger than your company.

Shafqat Islam

Published 2 January, 2014 by Shafqat Islam

Shafqat Islam is CEO & co-founder at NewsCred and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

6 more posts from this author

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Shadrach

Excellent article Shafqat, can you explain further what orange actually did? Where did the curated content come from?

over 2 years ago

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Joelle O’Reilly-Hyland

These are the best strategies that we can mimic to make our business successful.

over 2 years ago

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Jeremy Head

OK. So some of these companies are doing nice, interesting stuff with content. But, does it WORK? Quoting numbers of twitter followers and Facebook fans for the brand as a whole (eg Amex, GE) is misleading. Is this activity driving traffic? Is it aiding conversion? There is so much hot air out there about Content Strategy....

over 2 years ago

Robert Yardy

Robert Yardy, Marketing Manager at MMT Digital

Completely agree with the Mr Porter example. The content they provide is always interesting. In fact, the company could be used as example of how to successfully apply many things including an excellent e-commerce website and brilliant CXM strategy.

over 2 years ago

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Jane

I love it when I hear about a small business with a need. I can't wait to tweet about it, post a comment on a social media site, or promote the organization in some way. I'm trying to engage more each week to find added opportunities for posting something positive when I learn of it and can raise awareness. I might even mention them in my blog or in the comment section of an article related to their business.

over 2 years ago

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Nicole Delger

When I think of "platform for action" I am reminded of crowdfunding and how successful it has become. Using a crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo brings investors together to back a project they wish to succeed. I recently wrote a book, Get Funded, on the planning and strategy of crowdfunding. Feel free to check out my blog to learn more!

over 2 years ago

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