The Huffington Post publisher Janet Balis recently shared 10 tips for marketers on how brands can become content kings. Balis commented that “one of the most fundamental dynamics of publishing is to connect content and conversation . . . it’s time to move beyond consumption and engagement and translate [content] into social actions.”  At the heart of marketers' interest in branded content is the realization that old-school push communications have lost impact with consumers. And we’re not just talking TV and print here. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that digital ads such as banner ads, text, and mobile apps are the least trusted form of advertising communications; only 10% of US online adults trust banner ads on websites. With multiple connected devices at their fingertips, today’s perpetually-connected consumers can opt in or out of content on a whim. Branded content offers an opportunity to truly engage with consumers in a way that marketers have never done before. But there’s no shortage of content out there, so where do you start? Apply Forrester’s four C's framework to build your brand with branded content:

  • Capture the brand’s North Star in branded content. Authenticity is critical for branded content. And authentic content begins with knowing who you are. So ask yourself, what’s your brand North Star? 
  • Connect to consumers in context. Having great content is not enough. Consider the context in which it will be consumed. Are your consumers looking for quick-hit information on their smartphones, snackable content on Facebook, or in-depth information on your website? Automakers are tagging content to where customers are in the customer life cycle, such as style content in the discovery phase and service information in the buy phase.
  • Create visible value. What topics can you credibly provide value on, through information, education, or entertainment? Cisco Systems’ Networked Life taps into independent journalists to write articles that help the next-generation workforce members see how connected technology can help them pursue their dreams.  
  • Continuously measure and optimize results. Go beyond tracking data to measuring impact. What did it do for my business? What did it do for my brand? For example, Cleveland Clinic builds a trusted brand through accessible objective content.

To learn more, check out my report “How To Build Your Brand With Branded Content” or come to my presentation at Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders in Los Angeles on April 18th and 19th. I hope to see you there. You can also join my colleagues in London at Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders EMEA on May 21st and 22nd to learn more about creating brand advantage with perpetually connected customers.