A car dealership shoots a parody of “Gangnam Style”. An electronics manufacturer gives you ten tips to surviving the zombie apocalypse. A national car rental firm won’t stop sharing lolcats on their Facebook page.
In the quest to go viral and pick up those sweet likes, comments, shares, retweets, and other social media currency, some businesses conclude that it’s best to just create and share things that they think are very popular. And you can see why they’d think that. After all, likes, comments, shares, retweets, and all that good stuff is pretty important when it comes to being heard in the digital landscape.
But what, we ask, is the point of being heard if your message has nothing to do with your brand?
“Now wait a minute, Kuration,” you’re saying. “Haven’t you always warned us that businesses can’t write about themselves? And now you’re saying that they can’t write about stuff that has nothing to do with them? Well, what are businesses supposed to write about? Isn’t there a happy medium?”
Sure there is. And by way of example, let’s talk about Dos Equis.
Dos Equis is the Mexican beer that isn’t Corona. Even if most people haven’t tried a bottle of Dos Equis, they’re probably familiar with the brand via their very popular advertising campaign, The Most Interesting Man in the World. It’s a pretty clever premise. This guy is so interesting, the commercials tell us, that when he has a 50/50 shot, the odds are 80/20 in his favour; if he were to mispronounce your name, you would feel compelled to change it; and his words carry weight that would break a less interesting man’s jaw. After the commercial tells us how interesting he is, the man himself tells us that he doesn’t always drink beer, but when he does, it’s Dos Equis.
Branding themselves as the beer of choice for interesting people is important to Dos Equis because there’s not a lot else Does Equis can leverage to create an identity. They aren’t a craft brewery like Stone, they don’t have a storied history like Guinness, so they created an identity out of whole cloth by branding themselves as a choice for interesting people.
Here’s where content marketing comes in. When Dos Equis set out to create some content marketing the compliment their advertising strategy, the obvious (but lame) choice would have been to shoot a video about how beer is made or sponsor an article listing seven actual interesting facts about Dos Equis. But no one wanted that.
Instead, Dos Equis stayed relevant to their brand by sponsoring a series of posts called How to Be More Interesting in the magazine Mental Floss. Topics include “How to Survive an Avalanche”, “How to Sharpen a Knife”, and “How to Find Buried Treasure”.
The whole idea works because it is relevant: relevant to how Dos Equis wants customers to think of Dos Equis, relevant to what Mental Floss readers expect from their magazine, and relevant to what social media users find shareable.
The series includes eight videos and a further twenty-four articles. Some of the topics covered are useful and inside the realm of possibility, like “How to Fight a Rip Tide” or “How to Dominate at Arm Wrestling”. Others, taking a cue from the commercials, are more outlandish, like “How to Capture a Giant Squid” and “How to Surf a Volcano”. However, the only time the Dos Equis name appears is when they tell you who sponsored the post. Never do they literally say “Hey, want to be interesting? Just drink Dos Equis!” They let the reader make that connection, and it works because the things they talk about are way more interesting than an imported beer.
Lesson: Each of your ideas needs to have a logical connection to your business, service, or brand. Aside from merely crossing out any ideas that don’t meet that criteria, it’s worth listing all the things that are relevant to your business, service, or brand.