When Should You Outsource Branded Content Creation? [Q&A]

Companies like Collective Bias offer brands access to a curated network of expert bloggers who create branded content, then share it across a network of readers.

It’s well documented that content marketing is among this year’s top priorities for brands: 93 percent of marketers plan to use content marketing in 2014.

Yet while many brands (44 percent) have a documented content strategy in place, other research consistently finds that a majority of marketers (73 percent) say that when it comes to fully understanding native advertising — including branded content — they have no idea or hardly a clue.

Lacking a working knowledge of branded content coupled with time limitations naturally creates problems with developing clear strategies, generating engaging content and measuring ROI. Not surprisingly, a Forrester survey revealed that 62 percent of companies will outsource some or all of these efforts.

Companies like Collective Bias have emerged to offer brands access to a curated network of expert bloggers who create original and cost-effective content, and share that content broadly across a network of readers.

Forbes puts Collective Bias, whose customers include Tyson, Bigelow Tea and Nickelodeon, at #18 in this year’s list of America’s Most Promising Companies. We recently asked Collective Bias’ CEO Bill Sussman how marketers can overcome content barriers in 2014:

SocialTimes: Why do you think nearly 25 percent of marketers say their teams lack creative and storytelling skills?

Bill Sussman: Most companies today aren’t structured for the world of content marketing. You can’t flip a switch and turn members of your team into your content creators. Understanding marketing doesn’t mean they know how to write well enough to capture an audience’s attention. Storytelling is an art that not everyone has. Can they grab someone’s attention at the first sentence and keep them engaged until the end?

Some people are just natural-born storytellers, and it takes time to find the right ones for your brand. Companies need different kinds of storytellers for different aspects of building the brand, from telling the organization’s history to delivering something as mundane, but vitally important, as an instruction manual.

branded content

Stories have to be created with an understanding of the audience and what the audience wants, not necessarily what the brand thinks it needs. The best stories start from a deep understanding of the audience, and then figuring out how the brand can fit into their lives. It takes skill to weave insights and objectives into compelling stories that are shareable.

Can you speak specifically to the expense and time required to share new content?

Content may be king, but it takes an audience and distribution to rule today. That involves both human and technological resources, not only to create all the content, but also to share that content across multiple platforms. LinkedIn, for example, recommends you post twice a day. Twitter posts are more frequent at 1-12 times a day — and those are only two channels.

Sharing content is not enough; you have to be monitoring everything and engaging with the audience. If you’re managing a global brand, it gets even more complicated and you need enterprise-level platforms. Every brand has unique needs, but they all want the ability to manage and measure from a single dashboard where they can see results in real-time.

What is Collective Bias’ philosophy? What are the company’s goals?

Our philosophy is to use social media to solve shopper marketing problems. We harness the power of social content through our community of diverse social influencers who have micro-audiences centered on specific affinities. They have incredible reach, and their content generates high levels of engagement. That content is then amplified across various social media channels.

Our goal is to always create content that initiates two-way conversations and influences purchase decisions. This is the definition of shopper social media, and we are proud to be the only company to offer it.