OPEN Forum is American Express' original platform for content marketing launched in 2007. What makes it so unique? Here is what the company is doing differently to engage consumers on a genuine level.
Leveraging the voices of experts
It's a temptation for many brands to get their employees writing and providing material to their branded content channels. However, this strategy often leads to non-credible pieces of branded material. American Express has learned that the only way to establish its authority on its subjects is to call in the experts.
Keeping an obsessive eye on readers interests
How do you align your branded content with relevancy for your readers? In American Express' case, using data to gain as much insight into the interests of its audience solves this challenge. What are your fans reading most often? What's resonating with them? Use those answers to craft relevant content for your audience.
Finding the balance between selling, and hiding the sell
Consumers don't like being sold to, but at the same time, you are tasked with trying to get your readers to become customers and ultimately brand loyalists. American Express has tried to find this balance so that it does not offend customers all while making it clear that its content is sponsored by the brand. While it may be difficult, a good content marketer will say no to pre-roll and banner ads if they feel it tips the scale too far toward advertising.
Simple but true: Giving its readers really cool content
This may sound basic, but often the most obvious can be overlooked. You need to give your readers unique and cool content. Remember the Red Bull Space Jump? OK, so maybe your content doesn't need to be that dramatic, but you get the picture. Make sure that what you're putting out there is memorable and sharable. This is a huge pillar for American Express' content marketing strategy.
Not inserting too much of the American Express voice
Your readers want content that's relevant to them from experts they can trust. Use your brand as the enabler for a platform to provide this content and as a conduit between the experts and consumers. Think of your brand as the middleman and only insert your brand voice when it's appropriate.
Not focusing on volume
Content marketers can often get caught up in a volume game. Remember that it's not about the amount of content you put out there, it's about the quality and relevance of the topics you choose to cover.
Avoiding over-saturation of its logo
Lastly, you may be tempted to paste your logo everywhere, from banner space to a "sponsored by" image on the articles themselves. While a little bit of branding is OK, don't overdo it. Your readers might flee feeing like they are being taken advantage of.
Click here to subscribe to the iMedia YouTube channel for more exclusive content.
"Happy young businessman and big city" image via Shutterstock