Sports commentators are the ultimate content marketers. And never is that more prevalent than during the Olympic Games.
Think about it. Sports commentators take mounds and mounds of stats on every athlete and compile them into short, simple sound bytes that deliver high-quality commentary for viewers. It's no different than brands citing data points to validate their market positions or credibly tell their corporate or product stories through various-content marketing campaigns.
But not all brands get it right. Telling a data-driven story in a simple way is tough. With so much data, where do you start? And how do you bring a creative flare to the mix, to ensure it is simple and compelling enough for your customers to not only read it, but want to share it?
The first wave of content marketing was infographics – graphically designed images that communicate complex sets of data in easily recognizable stories. Now an essential part of most content-marketing campaigns, infographics are one of the hottest items to be shared on the Internet today.
But it's not stopping there. As with anything, social media is always evolving and new ways to engage with your customers come with it. The bandwidth for content marketing improves with the addition of better mobile devices, tablets and Internet-ready TVs.
And Canadians love video. According to ComScore, a marketing-research company that specializes in measuring digital activity, Canada is one of the world's largest users of video. In fact, a 2011 report cited 71 per cent of Canadian Internet users, or 17.6 million people visit YouTube every month. That's a massive, untapped opportunity for brands.
Recently, The New York Times unveiled a beautiful video series illustrating Olympic records. The videos are a great indicator of content marketing's evolution. These videos help illustrate more than a century's worth of Olympic data in just over two and a half minutes. And they're being shared like crazy across the Internet.
As we move into this new wave of content marketing, we will see more brands using video to create and share content. The same content and data that were being captured and shared in an infographic are now being developed using video in even more powerful ways. And the trend will definitely continue.
The challenge will be budget and talent. Today, the big brands tend to be the only companies that have access to high-end content creators and design agencies. Most businesses have no idea where to even start in creating an infographic, let alone a well-produced creative video that will tell its story.
Visual.ly, a community of designers and creative types, which initially started out as a community for sharing infographics, is starting to change that. The evolution in content marketing as through Visual.ly is to simplify and automate the creation process. It recently launched its creation portal, allowing people to produce infographics with just a few clicks.
Although this type of strategy is not for every brand, it certainly offers the opportunity for small- and mid-sized companies to compete with the deep pockets, huge retainers and multi-tiered advertising agencies of the large brands.
In the future, we will see more companies like this emerging and filling the gap on the video-creation side.
The need for simple storytelling has not changed over the years. Technology advancements and social networks have just made it way more accessible, and if done right, a powerful business tool for businesses wanting to take advantage of the power of visual storytelling.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic . She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.
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