General Electric, one of the biggest companies in the world (they employ over 300,000 staff and have a revenue of over $140bn), is a veritable content marketing machine that has been praised over and over again for the branded content it produces. One of the challenges with producing content at such scale is the increased cost. After all, if you're on the world stage you have a reputation to uphold, right?
Even huge corporations like GE have to look for quick wins and other opportunities to stay lean while still producing the high quality content that their readers have come to expect from them.
One approach, as explained by the Editor-in-Chief of GE Reports (General Electric's blog for tech, energy, and other scientific content), Tomas Kellner, is to pay attention to the content being published across the web. If you're looking in the right places, you'll likely come across content that's relevant to your brand. Maybe there's even a direct link, as in Kellner's example below. Finding opportunities like these could fuel the creation of quality content that rides an existing wave of exposure. This approach has a number of benefits, including:
- The popularity of the story is already measurable.
- Although being reactive isn't always the best way to go, it certainly has its place. In this situation, it should already be clear whether or not the story is engaging. The fact that it has made its way to being published in the first place says something of its quality, but the real measure is in the engagement.
- Look at the number of comments the story has received, how many other websites have published it, and how it's faring on social media (use BuzzSumo to see how many sharing interactions its received).
- The audience has defined itself.
- The viral nature of popular content means it can make its way to the farthest reaches of the internet in no time at all. Do your research into who's engaging with the content. Again, use BuzzSumo to find out which platforms it's being shared on and who's sharing it. Use SEMRush or Ahrefs to identify who's linked to the content. Look at Google News results. Take all of this information and build up a plan for promotion which has a good chance of success.
- You should also have an idea of the crossover with your own audience. Having specific persona(s) in mind will help you define your own take on the story, too.
- It's clear where you can add value.
- Another aspect of this approach is the relative ease of finding where you can add value to a story. If a story is already out there, it means you can skip a large part of the scoping and topic generation processes and cut straight to coming up with ideas for adding value.
- It's been proven that constraints can make you more creative, so this approach is a time-saver.
To ensure your content ideas are fresh, relevant and cost-efficient, keep your eyes and ears peeled!
GE Reports is a surprisingly lean operation, considering the depth and breadth of stories it produces. Kellner explained that content marketing isn’t something you have to throw a ton of money at if you have your eyes and ears open for a good story. For instance, Kellner spotted a Gizmodo story about a kid who built an entire Boeing 777 airplane out of manila envelopes. The detail was incredible. Kellner realized that GE builds the 777’s engine, making it the perfect story for GE Reports. “No one had sat down with him and talked to him about the whole process,” Kellner said. “We got access to him and did a Q&A with him. There are enthusiasts [for your brand]. Look at what other people are doing and use it to your advantage.”