Why branded content is all about consumers

Branded content presents an opportunity for companies to speak the language of consumers. In this Q&A, Chris Cox, senior manager global digital marketing, The Hershey Company, explains how a thoughtful approach to content can help brands meet their goals.

Q: What do you see the role of branded content to be?

A: In the new media landscape, the power of content lies in its ability to be a key brand-building tool. Content should be used to tell stories and share experiences that are relevant and meaningful to consumers, and that help build a brand's awareness and reinforce its equity by showing consumers its importance to them and their lives.

Q: When it comes to content creation and dissemination, what are the big decisions that need to be addressed?

A: Well for starters, does your brand have the license and credibility to be a content creator? In turn, is it better for the brand to generate the content, or is it better for your consumers and loyal fans to generate it? The end goal should be to deliver authentic, on-equity branded content, and from there, decisions about who should create it -- internal resources, external, UGC -- and how should it be distributed are equally critical. There are a lot of choices, so the focus should be on what is the highest percentage opportunity, whether it's placing it on your own properties, on social platforms, using content syndicators, or others.

Q: What's the next big thing in content for 2014?

A: Man, I wish I knew! I think one of the smartest things we can all do is stay abreast of as many developments in the industry as possible, and then focus on the ones that are most relevant to our objectives, brand strengths, and the KPIs that are most important to our companies.

Franchesca Nguyen is communication coordinator at iMedia.

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