b2g_logo_iso_350Insights from Brand2Global in London, October 1-2, 2014.

You know something’s happening when leading brands like Google, LEGO, Lenovo, Nike, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Danone, Western Union and Accor meet to strategize about global content marketing.

That’s when you know that content marketing has finally come of age.

And that’s exactly what I saw in London at the Brand2Global conference 2014. Content marketing, which used to be on the fringes, is now the focus of attention for all forward-thinking marketers and advertisers.

Content marketing? What’s that – and why?

Eric Ingrand and Nitish Singh at Brand2Global 2014
Eric Ingrand (left) and Nitish Singh at Brand2Global 2014

Even three years ago, when I brought up the topic of content marketing during conversation, I would see big question marks in people’s eyes. Ironic smiles. Doubtful looks. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was all the rage. Why bother with content marketing – and what is it anyway?

But I had a clear vision backed up by facts. I’m glad that content marketing has now – partly thanks to Google’s algorithm changes such as Panda and Hummingbird – been accepted into the mainstream.

SEO takes brands away from their customers, by focusing on search engines rather than on answering people’s real needs and problems. Content marketing brings brands and customers closer to one another, by focusing on quality online content which people want to read, share and interact with.

LEGO: a classic case study in content marketing

A highlight of the conference was the speech by Lars Silberbauer Andersen, Global Director of Social Media & Search at LEGO Group. He is one of many behind LEGO’s extraordinary success in creating social media communities around the world.

LEGO was one of the first brands to understand that social media is about engagement and about having a two-way conversation rather than broadcasting a message over and over again.

The company was also one of the first to understand that social media is highly local, and that a multilingual presence on different local social media platforms is key to success.

And lastly, it is one of the best brands at telling stories that appeal to people all over the world. An example? The LEGO Movie, which gained international critical acclaim and earned $468 million in box office revenue.

No shortcuts slide - Brand2Global 2014Social media strategy at the core

Social media strategy at LEGO is at the core of the brand’s overall business strategy, rather than something that the marketing department deals with and the bosses don’t need to think about. The leadership has connected global social media and content marketing goals with financial goals, and are tracking their success closely.

Bad news for those who think it’s easy. As Lars said, you need to “create and build connections and relationships. There are no tricks or shortcuts. You cannot fake it. It’s about hard work: be timely, be relevant and be personal.”

This rings true in my experience, and is a great way to summarize social media strategy.

Enough for now—check this blog next week for more insights from the Brand2Global conference!

Eric Ingrand – VP Content Marketing EMEA

 

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