Charities Use Viral Sensations and Content Marketing to Make an Impact

Charities and non-profit organizations are utilizing a new tactic in their public service announcements (PSAs) to make an impact on audiences – and boy does it ever! By keeping their pulse on popular culture and adopting content marketing, charitable organizations have created some very powerful campaigns.

By now, it’s likely you’ve heard of the viral videos “celebrities read mean tweets” by Jimmy Kimmel, or even taken a look at the blue/black/gold/white dress picture. While several companies jumped on the bandwagon, recreating their own versions of these popular images and videos, none of them repurposed the content for the purpose of driving their own message.

Raising the Roof is a great example of how charities can create an impactful campaign that resonates with their audience while driving engagement. The tear-jerking videos show homeless Canadians reading the mean things others have said about them on social media aloud (specifically, Twitter). The call to action at the end of the commercial encourages viewers to visit their website,, which hosts additional videos and information on how people can help. 

Homeless read mean tweets


I imagine that their content campaign outline would’ve looked a little something like this:

Content Campaign

These three stages also reflect the buyer’s journey of awareness > consideration > purchase.

Another non-profit organization that used the popularity of “mean tweets” in their content marketing is The Canadian Safe School Network, a charity dedicated to reducing youth violence and making schools and communities safer. In an effort to raise money and awareness, the organization released a video that featured teens reading mean comments that others have tweeted about them.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 9.54.53 PM


At first, the laugh track makes it seem as though the video is meant to be comedic, but as the laughter fades – it becomes shockingly clear how impactful cyber-bullying can be. Taking a similar approach as Raise the Roof, the charity used to video to drive viewers to their campaign landing page. In fact, heavy-hitters like TIME Magazine, Huffington Post, and CTV News took the campaign to the next level by sharing it with their audiences. The charity recently reported that the video was viewed 1.5 million times on YouTube!

Capitalizing on a different viral sensation, the Salvation Army used ‘The Dress’ in their campaign against domestic violence. The image of a black and blue dress that became a viral sensation (thanks to an optical illusion that made some people see the dress as white and gold) was the inspiration for the image you see below:

Salvation Army

The message reads, “Why is it so hard to see black and blue? The only illusion is if you think it was her choice. One in six women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women.” The image also features the logo for Carehaven, a home for abused women and their children managed by Salvation Army.

Once again, the powerful content was used to generate awareness and support – encouraging their audience to get involved or donate. In a positive turn of events, the Salvation Army’s take on “The Dress” went viral, with several Twitter users sharing the campaign image and referring to it as “powerful”.

These organizations acted fast and utilized content that was already popular to catapult their content marketing campaigns to new heights. By striking while the iron was hot, and supporting their message and goal with powerful content, these charities were able to achieve great success.


Be a Networking Ninja and Boost Your Content Marketing

Consumers have access to an increasing amount of content, making it more difficult for companies to stand out from the crowd. You may spend hours crafting the perfect blog article to engage your target audience, but how can you be certain that they’ll actually see it? Instead of utilizing a variety of content dissemination platforms to “spray and pray”, marketers need to start building relationships and trust with their audience.

What’s the best way to build trust? By aligning with the experts and thought leaders in your industry. It’s been found that 85% of consumers seek out trusted expert content when considering a purchase. Combining content with industry influencers can help increase your content’s exposure, grow your social media communities, and increase your brand’s influence.

But how do you identify and connect with influencers? By becoming a networking ninja:

1. Infiltrate the community: You can’t just burst onto the scene and start blasting the community Infultratewith content and invites to connect — you need to ease into it. Start making your presence known by commenting on influencer blogs posts, engaging with their social messages, or joining relevant groups. Influencers are more likely to collaborate with you if you’re already on their radar.

2. Spy on the community: Monitor the community as well as the influencers – observe how the two groups engage each other, take note of the type of language they use, and network ninja
document what topics they discuss. All this information will allow you to “talk the talk” and “walk the walk” when you start reaching out to experts and creating relevant content.

3. Select your targets: Every industry has it’s leading experts, or thought leaders, that have the targetability to influence their community. By aligning your brand with these expert individuals, you’re using their influence to increase awareness – and ultimately increase sales. Learn who’s the most active, who has the widest reach, who has the most impact on their audience, how often people engage with them, and how active they are in engaging with others. This will help you determine which influencers you should direct your efforts on.

4. Make your move: It’s time to reach out and say hi – or hiya – to the identified influencers. Send them a private message that’s creative and succinct, ensuring that you include details on how their participation will benefit them. Whether it’s promoting their personal brand or sharing their opinion knifeon a topic they’re passionate about, you need to make sure you “bait the hook” – or should I say, “set the trap”.

5. Be a master: Learn from your networking – what worked and what didn’t work? What
kick itbarriers did you encounter, and how did you overcome them? And how was the experience for the influencer? You want your experts to have a positive experience so that you can build a relationship. That way, you can team up with them again in the future on a variety of projects.

Now go forth, my networking ninjas – and give your content marketing a kick.

Nokia Buys In to Content Marketing – Literally

A variety of companies – both B2B and B2C – have adopted content marketing in recent years, with many of them experiencing a great deal of success. It takes skill and dedication, but content marketing has a history of delivering a strong return on investment (check out my previous blog for examples). However, technology supplier Nokia is trying to fast track their results by shifting their content marketing efforts into hyper-speed.


To accomplish this, Nokia is paying Wired magazine (a popular magazine that reports on how emerging technologies affect culture, politics, and the economy) to create an editorial style website called “MakeTechHuman” that aims to start a conversation about where technology is taking humanity. Pretty heavy stuff, huh? Print ads, events, and an onslaught of online articles will be utilized throughout the year-long campaign, costing the company millions. But will it all be worth it? The campaign is set to kick off following an invite-only dinner at the TED conference in Vancouver.

So we’ll have to wait and see if this type of “hyper-drive-conent-marketing” is effective or not. In the meantime, there are a few factors that may influence the results:

Factors working in their favour: 

  • Despite the fact that their brand image is tied to an older technology (remember how many people had Nokia cell phones in the 90s?), the company has been going strong for 150 years. They don’t even sell phones any longer! Recently, they’ve made most of their profits in B2B selling equipment to telecomm giants Verizon and Sprint.
  • If the content is perceived as valuable by their target audience, it will drive prospects through the funnel – leading to increased revenue.
  • Partnering with Wired provides Nokia with credibility in the technology industry, since the magazine company is an established thought leader with a large tech and business audience.
  • Business giants General Electric (GE) and American Express have achieved great success with their content-marketing hubs, with GE getting 30% extra value for every dollar spent.

Factors working against them:

  • You can’t build credibility overnight. It takes time to earn the trust of readers – months of distributing quality content designed to provide genuine value to the target audience. Articles will be labeled as “sponsor content”, which tells the reader that the article has an agenda other than simply sharing information – it was created to generate revenue.
  • The last site that a company in the tech industry sponsored was Verizon’s SugarString, and the online community shut them out. After facing intense backlash and ridicule in regards to their publishing, Verizon shut down the site within two months of its launch.
  • It’s still unclear why a B2B company will be spending seven-figures over the next year on attracting the consumer community (B2C).
  • Nokia will need to define and articulate what they do and why people should care, because that message is not being clearly communicated.

At the end of the day, this is a marketing campaign that is expected to drive results. Nokia is walking a thin line, and I’m interested to see the results of this campaign. What are your thoughts?


3 Factors Influencing Your Content Marketing Success

Yoda Content Marketing

We’re almost three months into 2015, and by now everything must be going according to plan, right? With buy in from your superiors and the knowledge required to succeed, you must be thrilled. Well – according to the Content Marketing Institutes’ B2B Content Marketing Trends report, that’s not necessarily the case. Despite the fact that 86% of respondents said that their organization uses content marketing, only 38% believe that their efforts are actually effective. So what gives?

There are three primary factors that influence the effectiveness of content marketing:

  1. Lack of a documented content marketing strategy: There’s no “A for effort” in content marketing – if you want to be successful, you have to have a documented strategy – as in written down and disseminated amongst your team. Out of the 83% respondents who indicated that they have a strategy in place, only 35% say it is documented. Having a strategy helps you stay on task and reach your goals. In fact, 42% of survey participants say their content marketing efforts match their strategy “very closely” – and the most effective marketers are those who follow their documented strategy.
  2. Not disseminating your content marketing strategy – or your content: Make sure everyone is aware of your plans and agree with your strategy. You should also create a flow chart, or project calendar, and distribute it to key stakeholders. Providing insights and updates makes content marketing more “real” – as some may have difficulty grasping the more intangible elements. Delivering a document that clearly displays how changing priorities directly impact your content marketing efforts can help others gain a better understanding. Sending out all the great content you’re creating to any employees who may find it beneficial or helpful is a great way to gain support and views. Ideally, employees will share that content with their networks, increasing engagement with your brand.
  3. Share your achievements: Are you one of the lucky few that can successfully calculate the ROI of your content marketing – and by “lucky few” I mean one of the 21% of respondents that stated they are successful at tracking the ROI? Good – now share those metrics with everyone! Still not sure how to determine the ROI? I suggest taking in a few instructional materials to learn how, because it’s one of the key indicators of your success. It’s so important that 46% of respondents have identified “measuring content marketing ROI” as an initiative that they are currently focusing on. Also be sure to share your other wins, like a significant increase in blog views, or publishing company content on a reputable site, or obtaining a great case study.

By documenting your content marketing strategy, sharing it with your team, and communicating your successes, you’re in a better position to achieve your goals and avoid distractions.


How to Kill Content Marketing

You’ve finally done it! You’re a content marketer! Even better – you’re one of the lucky few who have the opportunity to build your company’s content marketing from the ground up. However, once the new car smell of content marketing has left the air – you may find that your efforts might have been in vain.

How does this happen? You’ve been keeping up to date on the latest trends – content marketing is so hot right now (especially in B2B)- building your strategy, creating amazing content, growing the company’s audience —- and then it all changes. After reading quite a few blogs on the subject, I’ve surmised that there are 3 ways to kill content marketing.

  1. Micromanaging: This is the kiss of death in any work environment – but having someone watch over your shoulder while you make edits is Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 4.51.08 PMthe best way to undermine someone. Great content marketing needs great writing – and I can see how micromanaging would create self-doubt. I recent survey also found that micromanaging can lead to demotivation and self-doubt — which aren’t good for any employee and can have a serious impact on productivity. Even more alarming is the fact that 93% of engaged employees are clear about the organizational goals and therefore, can communicate with customers better (Harvard Business) – so if your writer/content marketer is not engaged, the quality of the content they create can suffer. Which leads me to my next point….
  2. Poor Writing: Quality content is essential in differentiating yourself from your competitors. Writing is the lifeblood of content marketing, and creating content that is useful and engaging to your readers while still conveying your company’s brand, messaging, and values (while also generating leads) takes some expertise. Experienced writers are also able to convey a personality while communicating a company’s messaging to an audience – but not many. Ann Handley of meshmarketing determined that a great exercise to test this is by covering your company’s logo and reading the content: do you sound different? Or do you just sound like your competitors?
  3. Creating Content without Marketing: There’s no doubt that quality content is essential – but this also isn’t Field of Dreams, you can’t just create it and wait for readers to come – that’s where the marketing portion comes in (duh). You need to create a content marketing strategy, with clearly defined tactics, goals, and metrics. Once you have a plan, you can make your attack and disseminate your content to your audience. Otherwise, your content will just sit there – unread and unused – and not bringing in any revenue.

Google Results

Avoiding these pitfalls on your own can be a challenge, but it’s important that you try. Otherwise, you’re just going to kill your content marketing.


Content Marketing: The Struggle is Real

At times, it can feel like you’re swimming against the current; trying to push your content marketing efforts forward, only to be met with resistance. Other times, it can be a struggle to maintain your position and define your role when your superiors utilize your skills for copy writing instead of content marketing. Several companies jumped on the bandwagon when content marketing first entered the scene, but they lacked the patience necessary for it to be successful. It takes time to start seeing the benefits of content marketing — but when you do see results, it’ll blow you away.

There is no better example than Red Bull. The company’s media house set the goal of becoming independently profitable – with content so good they could sell it. This “forced” Red Bull to create content that people loved. That content helped Red Bull build an unbeatable reputation and dominate the crowded energy drink market. But I could go on about Red Bull’s success in content marketing forever….(seriously, if you haven’t read about their content empire, you need to check it out).

Several other businesses have achieve success with content marketing. Zagg, an online retailer of mobile accessories, earns 172% ROI and 10% of the company’s website traffic through their blog. Publishing 25 to 35 posts each week, the company’s three writers are tasked with producing content that is shareable, popular, and promotes the company’s product range. Oh, and 60% of their blog traffic is from new users – not too shabby at all.

Meanwhile, a B2B company called SunGard, which provides IT operations support, hit it out of the park with their video series by injecting humour into educational content on pain points and industry trends. By analyzing their audience’s content consumption patters, SunGard was able to map out a campaign that promoted their content across multiple touch points via email, social media, and paid media. The result of their efforts? Over 3,000 leads generated in 3 days! And that’s not all – they also saw email clicks and click open rates that were 2-3 times the average AND the CTAs to download a whitepaper at the end of the videos had a 87.4% click-through rate.

Did these companies achieve this type of success over night? No. It took a lot of time and resources. But each of these companies started from somewhere. Content marketing only recently became popular (though it’s arguably been around for a really long time, but that’s another blog post). So my advice to you is to always remember:

Content Quote


What Content Marketers Need to be Successful in 2015

In 2015, content marketers need to ask themselves one question above all else: who cares? Because if the answer to that question is anything other than “my target audience” – then stop what you’re doing, because it’s a waste of your time and efforts.

Content Marketing Cat

The success of content marketing is heavily reliant upon the engagement of your target audience or market. No matter how you do it – whether it’s with whitepapers, infographics, videos, podcasts, memes, or any other form of content – getting your target to read, watch, share, comment on, like, or click on what you’ve created is the name of the game.

Content marketers must listen to their target audience, because creating content with the sole intent of making a sale instead of answering a question or helping in some way isn’t engaging. In order to be in touch with your audience, you need to do a few things:

  1. Form a strong relationship with your Sales team: The members of your company’s sales team are your “boots on the ground” – especially in the B2B market where the sales cycle is typically longer and requires a more consultative approach with prospects. Since the sales team is in constant contact with a variety of prospects, they can offer the greatest insights on the problems, requirements, and interests of your target markets.
  2. Get Comfortable with Alerts: Whether you use Google, Hootsuite, Twitter Counter, LinkedIn, or newsletter subscriptions – you need to stay on top of the latest topics and trends in your industry. Relevance and timeliness contribute to establishing your company as a thought leader, which builds trust with your prospects and customers. You don’t need to read every single email that enters your inbox, but even reviewing the subject lines can give you a good indication of what’s trending and what your target audience might be buzzing about.
  3. Ask Questions: Don’t be afraid to talk to your customers! Sure, they may not be interested in having a 20 minute conversation – but they likely wouldn’t mind asking a few questions about the challenges their currently facing or what trends they’re excited about. Keep it cool and casual, and I bet you’ll learn more than you expect! Not only will this help you in creating content that your target audience wants, but it will increase the satisfaction of your customers. I mean, who doesn’t like venting about their latest frustrations or gabbing about an exciting new product or trend.
  4. Learn to Write — Or Hire a Writer: Nothing will kill your credibility more quickly than spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, awkward sentences, and plain old boring storytelling. Be honest with yourself; if you’re not a good writer, hire one. There are multiple websites, such as Kayak, Skyword, NewsCred, and Elance, that provide content creation services or allow you to connect with freelance writers. With so many resources at your disposal, there’s no excuse for poorly written content.

Once you’ve mastered the tactics listed above, you’ll have the tools and information to create content that truly engages your target market and audience.