How do brands create successful content in a world where celebrity news dominates headlines and social media provides constant entertainment?
Partnering with a publisher to leverage both valuable audience data—like these insights from POPSUGAR—and editorial expertise provides the best combination for successful native advertising. That means taking advantage of data tools like A/B tests and seasonal trend reports, as well as listening to the advice of editors who understand what does and does not drive traffic.
As media trends continue to evolve and native advertising morphs along with them, brands would do well to bear in mind some guidelines for content and consumption. We launched the POPSUGAR Native Awards honoring six of our most successful native advertising partners. Here are the winners and the insights driving their success.
1. Stay open to peripheral content
Best Native Video: Crest
Get in the habit of looking at content possibilities in your brand's peripheral vision—content you can create that isn't exactly "on the nose" for your products or services, but that opens up the audience to receive your message. For example, this ombre lip tutorial made in partnership with Crest. It's not about oral hygiene (though that's important, too), but rather something women think about every day—a beautiful smile. You may find that one angle that goes together like a pearly white smile and lipstick.
2. Make it clickable—but not click-bait
Most Unique Alignment: International Delight
Take a glance at your Facebook feed—what is being shared? A lot of heartfelt mom confessions and shocking, can't-look-away news stories. But it's worth keeping in mind that humor, relatable memes and "collections of cute"—such as this post for International Delight—always trump content about, say, "brand personalities." Before posting content, take a moment to think about what people share and how to inject (appropriate) humor. And don't fall prey to click-bait headlines.
3. Think beyond your immediate audience
Most Newsworthy: Stayfree
Speaking of shares, it's important to consider not just an immediate audience, but the broader earned media possibilities. Publishers share other publisher's content, so making yours as appealing as possible can mean more shares from more sources. Can you make your native content fit within a Venn Diagram of audience overlap and topical conversations that are already happening online, as with these cozy fall trends? If so, you may find viral success when other publishers share your work.
4. Happiness is the new black
Most Likely to Make You Smile: Target C9
With the challenges most of us face everyday, people—and women, especially—crave content that reminds them of reasons to be happy. Even better is content that tells us how to get happy. Challenge your audience to look at their daily lives in new ways—like POPSUGAR did in this partnership with Target—and encourage them to find those moments that make them feel alive.
5. Education is the best evergreen
Most Valuable: Downy
Evergreen content may not be as sexy as #BrandsSayingBae, but it offers long tail search success that trending topics cannot. The bonus is that the rewards of a smartly positioned, SEO-optimized post continue to deliver long after a campaign ends. Your bag of content tricks should include a strategic mix of both trending and evergreen content, and when you're thinking evergreen, think of the other "e"—education. Informative content never goes out of style, especially when it covers a topic human beings care deeply about, like sleep (or lack thereof). For example, Downy inspired this informational post that not only informs readers about sleep but also teaches them how to get more shut-eye.
6. Why shares are such an important metric
Most Social Chatter: thinkThin
Where unique visitors and pageviews once had their reign over wrap-up decks, social shares and earned media have become a valuable way of gauging the success of branded content. That's because the best content is created with its audience, and KPIs, in mind. With this thinkThin collaboration, for example, an eye-catching Pinterest image resulted in over 75,000 shares. The lesson here is to think about social before concepts get approved, and to work with the editorial team to package content tailored for different social media platforms.