What Is Branded Content? (With Advantages and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 4, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As online advertising fatigue increases, marketers are required to find increasingly creative ways to promote businesses and their products. Content marketing involves creating content, such as videos, articles, and social media posts that provide information about a company to potential customers. Understanding how to integrate branded content in a marketing campaign can help advance your marketing or advertising career.

In this article, we define branded content, explore some key advantages of using it, review how it differs from traditional advertising, and provide tips for creating powerful sponsored content.

What is branded content?

Branded content is any piece of media that someone creates to promote a specific business or product. This may include articles for websites or publications, social media posts, and multimedia content, such as videos or podcasts.

Marketing professionals create brand-centric content to attract new potential customers to a business by placing and sponsoring content that appears to be newsworthy or authentic. This sponsored or promoted content can help brands gain traction in an otherwise saturated advertising landscape.

This type of content uses storytelling to connect with customers on a personal level to increase brand recognition and awareness. It helps businesses maintain their customer base by providing entertaining content that their existing customers can also appreciate. Marketing teams can develop their own content or they can hire content creators, such as influencers, to create and publish sponsored content from their online accounts.

For example, a car company may partner with a popular social media influencer to share photos from a camping trip for which they used a loaner car.

Related: Complete Guide on How to Become a Brand Ambassador

Advantages of using sponsored content

Many businesses use this type of promotional content to combat customer advertising fatigue. Sponsored content appears more organically in a social media feed or within a publication, as marketers aim to create content that resonates with the channel's audience. Here are the benefits of brands using this type of content:

Increased brand recognition

Developing sponsored content can be an effective way to rapidly increase brand recognition and awareness. Along with engaging customers, a key element of promotional content is that it appears to partner or have an affiliation with the channel on which the content appears. It can promote brand recognition by including company logos in its graphics or videos, or key messages from the brand that customers can associate with the company.

Developing sponsored content can help brands expand their reach through partnerships with media outlets or social media influencers to gain immediate access to their audience.

Related: What Are Branding Strategies? (With Definition and Benefits)

Reduced cost

Many sponsored content campaigns may be more cost-efficient than traditional marketing methods. This is because you can typically publish and distribute sponsored content without paying for additional promotion or advertising space on the platform. For example, while a company might pay for an ad on a website, it can create a social post from its own account at no cost. The cost savings might allow the marketing team additional budget to create more promotional posts or fund additional marketing initiatives.

Increased focus on customers

Sponsored content is typically consumer-focused because it can appear on digital platforms that the public can access easily. Content creators focus on connecting with the audience on an emotional level, through the use of personal stories, unstaged photos, or video tutorials. Marketing professionals also usually try to create content that's exciting and entertaining for viewers, which can increase the number of people engaging with the content.

Since consumers can find and interact with this content easily, campaigns that use sponsored content typically have a higher reach. These efforts may encourage users to visit a website and initiate the sales journey.

Increased growth potential

This type of content is most often presented in shareable formats over the internet that provides increased growth potential. This may be beneficial to marketing teams, as it provides countless opportunities to promote the business creatively while keeping customers interested and engaged.

With the opportunity to publish content on multiple platforms, it can dramatically increase the reach of a marketing campaign. Further, the use of multiple platforms can attract different types of customers who use various platforms.

Increased partnerships and collaboration

It's very common for brands to collaborate with professionals, media, and influencers to create content that resonates with their audiences. As each channel manager understands the challenges and needs of their own audiences, it can be beneficial for marketing teams to partner with them to create rich content. Further, some marketing teams may seek user-generated content to share and promote to their followers to establish deeper connections with their audiences.

Branded content vs. advertising

Here are the ways that sponsored content differs from traditional advertising methods:

Focus

One of the most distinct ways that promoted content differs from advertising is in the focus of each marketing method. With sponsored content, the focus is almost always on the consumer and the product or service benefits, whereas in advertising, the focus is on the product or service features. For example, sponsored content may showcase personal stories of how an automatic vacuum enhanced a customer's life and allowed them to spend more time with their family. Conversely, an advertisement for the same product might focus on the fast charging speed, quick-cleaning filter, and vacuuming hours per charge.

Focusing on the benefits over features can help the content resonate with customers and learn more about a company's values in the process. Advertisements differ from the customer-focused approach, as ads typically have a more direct process of communication with the goal of increasing sales and revenue. The information in advertisements typically includes details about a product or service, technical specifications, and how a customer can make a purchase. The focus may result in ads prioritizing descriptions over relatability or entertainment.

Accessibility

Another key difference between sponsored content and advertisements is how consumers can access each form of marketing. As most branded collateral exists on the internet, consumers can typically access it whenever and from wherever, making it accessible to a wide variety of audiences. Traditional advertisements usually exist on third-party platforms that aren't owned or run by the company it promotes. For example, an advertisement can still appear on a social media platform, but it might display as a sidebar ad rather than as a post from the company's own account. Contrary to advertisements, users typically consume promotional content voluntarily.

Ability to gain popularity

Sponsored content and advertising can also differ in their abilities to gain popularity quickly. Marketers often design content to be entertaining, providing many opportunities for the content to attract high volumes of viewers in short periods of time. For example, a company might post a compelling video on one of their social media accounts, gaining large amounts of views and shares across different platforms. The personal and relatable story increases the likelihood of organic social sharing, which is not common with traditional advertisements.

Most advertisements function mainly to sell a product or promote a company, which means they might not include elements that can excite consumers in large numbers. They can still earn many views and interactions, but it might be less likely that an advertisement rises in popularity quickly and across different platforms.

Related: A Guide to Marketing as a Career

Tips for creating content for brands

A compelling story may evoke emotion and interest in a brand, which is why many marketers focus on storytelling for their promotional campaigns. Here are some tips for creating powerful content to motivate potential customers to engage with the brand:

  • Focus on storytelling. Seasoned content creators understand that effective promotional content tells a compelling, memorable story to entertain the audience. For example, a company that wants to tell customers about its new sustainable activities might show examples of their program rather than simply stating they intend to implement new programs.

  • Appeal to your audience's emotions. Content that causes your audience to feel emotion can be a powerful way to ensure your message is memorable. Depending on your product, you might share a story that's inspirational, funny, or heart-wrenching to encourage the audience to take action.

  • Consider strategic partnerships. When engaging with influencers to help share an organization's story, it's important to ensure the brand values align. This helps the sponsored content feel like part of the influencer's usual feed, eliminating the superficial feeling audiences may experience when faced with sponsored content that doesn't align naturally.

  • Leave the audience wanting more. The primary goal of sharing this type of content is to entertain, educate, or inspire. The best examples of sponsored content make the audience feel as though they're gaining something by engaging with the content and encourage them to share it with their friends.

  • Select your channel wisely. It's important to consider the audience you're trying to reach when planning your content campaign. For example, you might consider one social network over another, depending on your target demographic and how your audience prefers to consume information.


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