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Advertising and content marketing are not the same.

Treating your social content as advertising just doesn’t work very well, and audiences can’t stand it.

Advertising in its purest sense is for TV, billboards, newspaper and cinema. Content marketing, on the other hand, is at home on social media: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and so on.

What differentiates the ‘content’ between the two forms is this: Social content provides value. Always.

Traditional advertising is designed to sell. It’s an elaborate exercise in convincing the audience to buy. It might be in the form of brand awareness or get-to-the-point call to action style marketing, but one thing is true- you’re being sold to. Advertisers get away with this is because once a goal is scored we have to watch the ad before the footy is bounced again.

But that approach doesn’t work on social for one reason: attention span is the currency.

Content marketing is about adding value which leads to engagement. Without value the audience just keeps on scrolling. On social brands need not sell, but give.

Everything is entertainment

Without giving the audience a reason to watch, social content is as good an ashtray on a motorcycle.

Sure, you can inform, educate or even ‘sell’, but above all you must entertain. Don’t worry, this doesn’t needs to be outrageous funny or endorsed by celebrity ‘influencers’. Instead, beautiful colours, imaginative image compositions, interesting facts, how-to videos or real-world product shots will do the trick nicely. It just has to entertain, and therefore engage. It has to appeal to your audience and give them a reason to stop.

So how do we sell?

People love to be associated with brands. It means that you need to create links between your product and your audience.

The reason why people buy is not always straight forward maths. Saying that people buy because they like the product doesn’t fully explain the ‘why’. What really matters is what the product means to the buyer. Using the product is different from the product itself.

For instance, a skateboard is cool, but using a skateboard is much cooler. So, content which showcases the design of the skateboard will only get you so far but selling the dream of skating like a pro- now that’s great content.

I see an amazing skater. The amazing skater skates an Arbor board. I’m not silly enough to think that owning an Arbor will make me pro, but wouldn’t it be great!

The same goes for makeup, camping equipment, guitars, fashion, and of course services.

This is selling the dream.

Audiences on social doesn’t want to be overwhelmed. They love simple messages. Oddly, this is a tough one for filmmakers who love crafting a complex work. Instead, the focus must be relatability, and the KISS principle is at its heart. Keep it simple stupid.

Let’s look at some types of video content marketing. Of course, these categories are really broad. Your videos can be a combination of these, but knowing the fundamentals helps in putting together a great content plan.

Type one: Product & Service Demo

There’s one reason we’ve seen this on social over and over again- it works.

The product demo takes a real, believable person, in a real, believable environment and has them use the product, wear the clothes, skate the board.

Often (but not always) demo content is fairly raw, it can be filmed on a phone and edited with basic or no graphics. The final video is simple which puts the emphasis on the person and the product.

Type two: Product & Service Showcase

The showcase video can be summarised in a single word: aspiration.

It’s less about being relatable and more about what one could become.

Its production is clean and professional. It emphasises the colour palette, the design and the feel. Importantly, they’re relatively short and loop-able, which is the key to keeping the audience watching over and again.

Likely, these videos are produced in the studio for a crisp, hyper-real aesthetic. They work as content because they’re beautiful. The products and models (optional!) look amazing and the entire production evokes a feeling that stops the audience in their tracks.

Type three: Lifestyle

Lifestyle videos take the professional, clean production from the Showcase but place the action in the real world. The lifestyle video is still very much aspirational, so the environments should complement this idea by taking the audience to a place they’d rather be.

Type four: Tutorials

Remember we spoke about everything being entertainment- even when you’re informing or educating? Well, that’s exactly what tutorials are about.

On the surface a ‘how to’ video looks informative, but the magic lies in the transformation appearing before our eyes. Whether it’s a tent setup video or a makeup tutorial, we’re inspired to go and do that thing. It’s another point of connection the audience can place between themselves and the product. It makes it possible.

So yes, it’s informative, but really, it’s just entertainment.

Type five: Animated stories

More and more we’re seeing a trend in social media videos which relies heavily on very basic text animation combined with a key message the audience can latch on to.

The message could be aspirational, it could be more down to earth. It might speak to a current social issue, it may be a piece of inspiration or something funny. No matter the content the key is simplicity.

The design and colour palette are intentional, the message brief and the animation simple yet engaging. Again, it’s ideally short and loop-able.