Authentic and relatable content is what people are looking for these days.
There’s been a growing disdain for the “salesy” content brands have used in their digital marketing campaigns over the years.
And this isn’t restricted to your target audience—even marketers feel that way.
…or so we think!
This means that brands need an alternative strategy so people don’t feel like they’re selling to them.
A good approach is using branded content—an engaging approach that touches human emotion.
Wanna learn more about it?
In this guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at:
- What branded content is
- Benefits of using branded content
- Best practices to follow
What is Branded Content?
Branded content is content that advertisers, creators, or influencers create in order to subtly promote a brand, its product, or its services.
You can also call it the creator’s content featuring your brand logo or name.
A good example is this video made for Red Bull—the energy drink brand.
It features a freerunner running through a ghost town in Turkey reinforcing Redbull as the drink sporty and adventurous people like.
From the video, you’ll see that branded content doesn’t outrightly tell consumers to buy. Instead, it makes them more aware of your brand and product so they want to buy from you.
What kind of content can be produced?
Well, depending on your marketing goals it can be:
- Social media content
- High-quality videos
- Live broadcasts
- Web content
You can use any of these types and more to connect with your target audience.
Here’s an example of social media branded content:
The creator’s post only talks about the brand’s product and what he finds interesting to raise awareness.
What’s Not Branded Content
You’ll agree that the explanation from the previous section seems very similar to other forms of marketing, right?
To clear things up, we will talk about how branded content differs from other marketing strategies in this section.
Branded content vs. Advertising
The main difference between branded content and advertising is that branded content places more emphasis on brand awareness while traditional advertising seeks to make sales or generate leads.
With branded content, brands can extend their reach to their target audience.
Whereas in traditional marketing, brands get to actively promote their product or services with a call-to-action boldly added.
Simply put, the product is the focus of the content.
That’s the opposite of branded content marketing—it’s non-intrusive!
People want to view this kind of content more than conventional ads because they find it interesting, informative, and beneficial.
Branded content vs. Content marketing
The main difference between branded content and content marketing is that content marketing is a marketing strategy consisting of different content pieces (e.g videos, social media posts, emails, etc.) created by a brand to promote itself while branded content is a subset of this strategy.
Branded content seeks to increase brand awareness and encourages engagement.
Content marketing strategy, on the other hand, involves creating a variety of content designed to meet the needs of your customers.
Branded content vs. Product placement
The main difference between branded content and product placement is that product placement is less subtle than branded content.
In other words, viewers know when they’re seeing product placement usually in a movie or documentary.
Branded content is less obvious in most cases.
Another difference is that product placement isn’t associated with an engaging storyline like branded content.
The producers are more concerned with the scenario in which it's used.
4 Key Benefits of Branded Content
Why should you invest in creating content that doesn't encourage your audience to patronize you outrightly?
Sales and leads should be guaranteed, right?
Well, branded content helps set that in motion.
The more people become aware of your product, the better your chances of them becoming customers.
That’s the long game branded content plays.
Here are some other benefits of using branded content:
Benefit #1: Boosts audience reach
Branded content uses relatable storytelling to create an enticing story for your audience.
This is the kind of content people want to see—content they can resonate with and engage with.
Now because branded content is quite interesting to watch, read, or listen to, it's much easier for your audience to share it with their friends.
The more shares the content has, the more people it reaches.
In other words, more people become aware of your brand.
Benefit #2: Promotes authenticity and trust
Another impressive benefit of branded content is that it shows people the value of your brand rather than simply telling them what you can do.
This approach sparks their interest and engages them because it helps show them what’s in it for them.
In other words, what they can gain from using your product.
And all that without feeling like someone is forcing them to make a purchase.
Creating branded content means you'll be placing more emphasis on your audience.
When they see this, they become aware that you're concerned about the things they’re interested in and that leads them to trust you.
Benefit #3: Creates emotional connections
Branded content creates an emotional connection between your audience and brand.
By telling compelling stories that excite your customers.
Essentially, the stories create memories in your audiences’ minds that they will associate with your brand.
Thus, creating a strong emotional connection with your brand—one that will be remembered for a long time.
Benefit #4: Drives conversions
Branded content can also help you drive conversions.
“But it’s not a direct marketing technique, how will that happen?”
Well, here’s how:
Branded content is a valuable piece of content that can position your brand as an authority in your industry.
As such, you will become the preferred choice of your audience when they need solutions to their problem.
So as you provide solutions to their issues, there’s a good chance that those who benefit from that will eventually become customers.
Here’s an example that supports our point.
Quadlock, a smartphone mounting system, decided to use branded content to tell their brand’s story.
Their business saw a 10% increase in conversions and got 7x return on ad spend (ROAS).
What’s even more interesting is that it was just a test.
You can imagine the result they’d get if they decided to go all out.
Let’s move on!
Branded Content on Social Media
Branded content on social media refers to content created by an influencer or creator for a brand to be used on social media platforms.
The creator or influencer produces a post for either Instagram, Facebook, or similar platforms and uploads it on their social handles.
Branded content on social media can be in the form of photos or videos depending on what you want.
Here’s an example of branded content on Instagram:
How brands are using branded content on social media
There are a couple of things you need to get branded content on social media:
- First, you need to decide what social media app you want the content on (more on this shortly).
- Secondly, you need creators or influencers to collaborate with.
That’s where a creator marketplace such as Insense comes in handy.
You can use the platform to find creators that can create high-quality content for you and post it on their social media profiles.
Getting started on Insense is quite simple.
You can generate a creative brief in a few minutes and Insense will recommend creators that are the right fit for your project.
Another option is to visit our creator marketplace and search for creators using different filters such as their audience size, niche, engagement rate, and location.
Once those things (platform and creators) are settled, you can get branded content and use it to run ads.
Ads featuring branded content have proven to be quite effective.
Also considering that 68% of Instagram users have said that engaging with their favorite influencers is what led them to Instagram, it’s only logical that you collaborate with them to produce branded content.
That way, you can be certain that your brand will have more reach even beyond the creator’s audience.
Creators and influencers will probably be very happy to collaborate with you.
Well, because it’ll be a paid partnership for them meaning they’ll get compensated for their efforts.
Aside from monetary compensation, they’ll get increased engagement and more exposure.
This is an appealing incentive for creators or influencers who’re still building their communities.
It’s basically a profitable solution for both parties.
Branded content on Instagram
Instagram is one of the social media sites that allows branded content.
So, what does branded content on IG mean?
Branded content on Instagram is videos or images/photos a brand pays a creator to produce and post.
Upon posting the content, the creator tags the relevant brand.
You’re essentially telling your brand’s story through the lenses of the creator you’re partnering with.
Instagram’s Branded Content Tool
“Wait…Instagram has tools too?”
They’re tools that help both creators and businesses ensure their collaboration is transparent.
What are they?
Instagram Tagging feature and Insight!
It’s due to these tools that users can see the “Paid Partnership with [brand]” label when scrolling through.
Branded content on Facebook
This is quite similar to branded content on Instagram.
It is any type of content or post from a creator or influencer that highlights a third-party product and is sponsored by a brand.
Branded content on Facebook is also displayed as ‘Paid Partnership’.
To use this feature, both the creator and brand will need to take permission from Facebook.
Facebook’s Branded Content Tool
Facebook’s branded content tool lets creators tag their content as a paid partnership.
Creators use it to disclose to their audience that content is the result of a collaboration.
The branded content tool gives brands access to analytics of the post when it goes live.
Branded Content Policies
While using branded content as part of your marketing campaigns is a great idea, you should know that certain policies are guiding its usage.
In other words, there are rules you must not violate.
What are those policies?
- Branded content should only be posted using the branded content tool
- Creators or influencers should use the tool to tag their business partners after they’ve received permission.
- Branded content may only be uploaded on Meta accounts that have got access to the branded content tool.
- There should be full disclosure to viewers that the branded content is commercial.
In addition, branded content featuring any of the following is prohibited:
- Illegal products or services
- Tobacco and related products
- Loans and similar services
- Multi Level marketing
- Initial coin offering (ICO)
- Controversial political or social issues
There is also certain sensitive content that can only be posted with restrictions.
That means restricting who can see the post based on their location or age. They include:
- Financial and insurance products or services
- Subscription services
- Cosmetic procedures
- Weight loss
- Family planning and contraception
Last but not least, there are policies surrounding branded content format including:
- Posting it where the branded content tool is present such as IG posts or Facebook stories
- Avoiding pre, mid, or post-roll ads
- Avoiding banner ads in video content or images
- Avoiding title cards within the initial three seconds of a video
Some other regulations to take note of are in the Pages, Groups, and Events policy.
3 Pro Tips for Creating a Branded Content Strategy
It’s one thing to create branded content and another for it to produce the kind of results you want.
As such, you’ll need a content strategy.
Wondering how to get started?
Here are three tips you’ll find useful:
Tip #1: Define your audience
The first thing you want to do is determine who the content will speak to even if it appeals to everyone.
How do you do that?
By asking questions such as:
- Who is telling your brand’s story?
- Who needs it more?
Answering these questions will help you define your audience.
Tip #2: Research your competitors
Take an in-depth look into what brands in your industry are doing and improve on it.
At the same time, figure out what they’re not doing and fill the gap.
You can research your competitors by monitoring their social media handles.
Tip #3: Measure your branded content campaign
Keep track of your campaign’s performance so you know where to improve.
You can begin by analyzing the data obtained from your campaigns.
Check necessary metrics such as the number of likes on each post, video views, shares, or click-through rates.
Other important measures to be made include engagement rates and campaigns.
Up next, we’ll look at some best practices you need to follow when creating branded content.
5 Branded Content Best Practices
Branded content is a great way to raise awareness for your brand.
Using it for ads means there’ll be fewer chances of being blocked because of its non-invasive nature.
Plus, it helps you build trust with your followers too.
How do you ensure that the branded content resonates with your audience without sounding too salesy?
Well, first you need to…
Best practice #1: Show your values
Branded content is less theoretical and more practical.
What does that mean?
It means that the content needs to show your values.
Saying it only moves a dent but showing it sends a message that you put those values into practice.
That in turn lets your audience know that you’re authentic and they can trust you.
So rather than saying you value customers’ feedback, let the content reflect how you do that.
Best practice #2: Find the right influencers
Remember branded content is content created by external parties for your brand.
As such, you need to ensure that the people you partner with are the right fit for your brand.
Do they represent your brand’s values to a good extent?
That’s what we mean by finding the right influencers.
The number of real followers they have, their engagement rate, and their niche, are other things to consider when searching for the right creator or influencer.
You see, people like to identify with something or some other person.
If they see people they relate to, it makes it easier for them to connect with your brand and become customers.
How or where do you find influencers then?
As stated earlier, that is Insense’s superpower—we can help you find the right influencers in no time.
Best practice #3: Highlight your product’s benefits
Your storyline should show your audience what benefits your product or service offers them.
“How do I highlight my product’s benefits without advertising it?”
The ‘freerunning’ example we added above showed how this can be done.
The video featured the freerunner drinking the energy drink at different intervals for energy.
That tells people watching that Redbull can energize and keep them active.
It’s always important to focus on the benefits of your product.
Best practice #4: Match the platform’s voice
Another thing you want to put into practice is ensuring you match the tone of the platform you decide to use.
How do you do that?
By getting familiar with content from other brands or creators on the platform.
That’s another reason you need to find influencers on the platform you want the branded content uploaded.
For example, when you’re interested in launching a branded content campaign on TikTok, it only makes sense to find TikTok influencers to partner with.
When content matches the platform’s voice, its credibility improves including the chances of people engaging with it.
Best practice #5: Evoke emotion
It’s good practice to ensure that the branded content evokes your audience’s emotions.
Let them feel something—whether it’s happiness or excitement as it can lead to them engaging with the content.
The content should motivate them to change their perspective about something or to get involved in some way.
Now, how about we look at some examples of branded content?
3 Great Examples of Branded Content
We understand that there are things that are sometimes easier said than done.
Creating branded content falls in this category.
That’s why we’ve curated a few examples by brands that did a great job so they can inspire your branded content campaign.
Example #1: The Lego Movie
Lego is a type of plastic construction toy produced by the Lego group.
Almost everyone knows what it is so when they made a movie about it, one could assume that the movie was just an outright ad for Lego products.
But, the storyline proved otherwise.
It was about a kid’s desire to be creative and his father’s idea to stick their Lego creations together with glue.
They went on to discover how much fun it was for them to create wild things together.
You can say it was a story about father-son bonding.
Even though the products (Lego) were used throughout the movie, they weren’t the center of attention.
But, there was a subtle message from the brand: Lego products are great for bonding!
Example #2: Dove’s Show Us Campaign
In this branded content campaign, Dove reached out to women who felt they looked different and were underrepresented in mainstream media.
They sent in pictures and videos of themselves showing they were proud of their bodies as you can see in the screenshot below.
While Dove wasn’t promoting any of its products, they were able to increase brand awareness while advocating for a social issue its audience could relate to.
Example #3: RedBull Supersonic Freefall Stunt
This video content saw Felix Baumgartner freefall from 128k feet in the stratosphere.
It was a feat fit for RedBulls’ former tagline Red Bull Gives You Wings.
Here’s a video of that event posted by RedBull on YouTube:
You can see the energy drink’s logo throughout the video but there’s zero mention of buying or anything related to that.
With branded content, consumers become more aware of the brand and will likely want to purchase from them.
It’s time; let’s wrap up!
Now Over to You
We’ve discussed branded content extensively in this guide so it’s safe to assume you’re ready to launch your branded content campaign.
We get that producing branded content is no easy feat especially if it's the first time.
To help you get started, feel free to book a demo with Insense to chat with our team and see how using our tool can help you get your branded content campaigns to the next level.
We will be happy to set you on the right track.
Until then, thanks for reading, and good luck with your campaign.