Articles, podcasts, videos, newsletters, press releases, social media posts - content marketing comes in all shapes and sizes.
But it's becoming increasingly difficult to get noticed, let alone stand out, in an ocean of content. More than 4.4 million blogs are published every day. And it feels like everyone's got a podcast, doesn't it?
At the end of the day, the right article with the right keywords in the right place at the right time WILL get you the spotlight you seek (we can help with that), but it's certainly far more difficult today than it was even a few years ago.
As a result, content marketers are experimenting with new ways to get noticed in a saturated digital world. Today, I'd like to share with you several unorthodox attempts that have caught my eye.
Should you try them? Probably not. This is not a guide.
This is a journey into a safari of weird strategies.
If nothing else, you can at least enjoy the ride.
1. Celebrity cameos
Imagine: It's Monday morning, you open your favorite marketing newsletter, and boom… there's Sean Paul.
Yes, that Sean Paul.
Did you imagine it? Now watch this.
That's the man to whose music every millennial has danced to. And he's giving a pre-recorded shout out to the employees of Benevity before a team meeting.
Not a fan? Cameo has thousands of household names ready to record a message for you, your team, your community.
There's even an option for some celebrities to join you on Zoom for a quick greet and meet!
Listen, most celebrities won't be interested in doing straight-up promotional pieces. You're not going to get Akon to say: “After using this amazing SaaS product I'm no longer 🎵 Mr. Lonely 🎵 !”
But that's not the point of this. The point is that when I saw people raving on LinkedIn about “Oh, this is the best newsletter ever - there was a SEAN PAUL CAMEO!”, I immediately went and subscribed to the mailing list.
Not that I particularly like Sean Paul. But it was something so unusual, so creative, that I was momentarily overwhelmed by FOMO and had to be part of this. It certainly worked better than the usual “Subscribe to our unmissable newsletter and get actionable tips”.
2. Wordcast? Wlog? Text Radio!
There are too many podcasts and not enough walks in the day to listen to them.
So I was pleased with this new format I came across - a live written interview. Think of it like a podcast that's happening in Google Docs. Anyone can join anonymously as a viewer and watch two people type at each other.
Shoutout to Nick Asbury and his TextRadio interviews.
It looks something like this:
First reaction - doesn't seem that engaging, right?
Well, you're not supposed to just sit there eyes peeled to the screen. You turn it on and you hop in whenever there's some progress. Consuming this content in small bites in parallel to work is what appealed to me. I don't have to go find my earphones, follow the pace of the podcast, or bother with rewinding if I zone out for a moment.
That said, as someone who writes for a living, there is definitely an almost voyeuristic pleasure watching industry titans type live and unfiltered, with typos galore and doing live edits.
Still, this format has definitely NOT taken off and I haven't seen many people use it. It certainly feels weird at first and there's no chance it'll dethrone podcasts anytime soon, if ever.
On the other hand, it's yet another way to stand out. Plus, one of the wonderful benefits is that at the end of the interview you've got an article ready to be published!
Here's another thing made possible by this format - by flipping the Google Doc's Share option to Commenter or Editor, you open the doors for easy audience interaction - people can comment, ask questions, or simply give thanks in real-time. Can podcasts do that?
3. Branded GIFs and stock photos
When it comes to content marketing strategies, this one's pretty out there.
If you're a small brand or young startup, then there's virtually no way this will help you get leads or grow interest in your product. Personally, the only benefit I can see is this being part of an outbound strategy for already recognizable brands.
In the GIF above, you'll notice a jar that says Jif - it's a brand of peanut butter and a perfect example of what I'm talking about. By piggy-backing on popular trends and keywords, you can get your brand noticed by millions for free.
Caption ran a small experiment with this and got some crazy exposure:
Going beyond GIFs, a similar strategy could be applied to stock photo sites - uploading branded photos to places like Pixabay, Unsplash, and Pexels in the hopes that people inadvertently spread the word about your brand by using free stock photos that feature it. But this feels like an even bigger reach in terms of potential benefits, which, if any, will probably be minuscule.
Here's what you get when you search for “Startup” on sitebuilderreport:
Bottom-left corner - I see you there, you sneaky Shopify sticker!
Anywho, Unsplash has something interesting in the works - a new kind of advertising. They're working on allowing brands to boost their branded pictures to the top of image search results for desirable keywords.
Let's say you're Swedbank. You take a nice photo of an ATM of yours, pay Unsplash a bit of cash, and your photo will appear among the top search results for defined keywords. Then, a lot of people who want to use a stock photo of an ATM for their blog will end up using one with your brand in it. And just like that, your brand finds itself in every corner of the internet.
Or, at least, that's the idea. Will it work? Hard to say. But it's certainly something to watch out for.
4. Get shameless with interactive content
Interactive content works.
Things like calculators, quizzes, chatbots are fun to play around with, plus they bring higher engagement and personalized value, which is something other types of content struggle with.
But creating interactive content doesn't necessarily mean publishing a quiz about “Which Disney Princess fits your marketing style” on your blog. That will probably flop. Then again, who knows.
When it comes to execution, you're only limited by your imagination.
Get shameless with it.
Here's an example by Scandiweb who were looking for new ways to attract junior developers to their team. Meet Eva:
They created a chat featuring a funky Android with a retrowave vibe. The chat options are full of memes and jokes. At one point, the participant is presented with a simple programming-related question. If they get it right, they're told that Eva's manager is in IT and wants to get in touch, inviting them to leave their details.
And people did.
It's essentially a high-powered lead magnet.
Try it out and see for yourself. But do keep in mind that it's designed for teenage boys straight out of high school.
The idea to use interactive content is by no means crazy, but if you want to stand out and be memorable, then you need to let your creativity loose.
5. Expert input article
Hah, I lied. This final idea isn't ridiculous at all. Actually, it's a fantastic content tactic that you should definitely take advantage of if you get the chance. After all, I can't let you leave empty-handed if you've gotten this far into the article.
The concept is simple: set out a topic for an article and get dozens of experts to weigh in on the topic.
Here's an example. You want to write an article about “How to improve website traffic quality”. Usually, you'd do some research, put together an article, add some actionable tips, and then publish and promote. But chances are that for such a popular topic your article will get buried in the depths of the interwebs.
Instead, reach out to as many marketing managers as you can and let them know you're writing this article, you'd love their input, and, in turn, you'll mention them by name and include a backlink.
Once you've received a bunch of insights, analyze them, categorize them, and create the article.
Not only will you have a longer and richer article with tips and tricks you might have otherwise missed, but also you can let participants know once the article is live and many of them will be inclined to share it with their networks to showcase their contribution. For you, this means easy organic distribution and cross-promotion to relevant new audiences. Plus, you'll have created terrific multi-view content that will certainly stand out in the crowd.
Databox built their entire content marketing strategy around this and serve as a prime example of how to do it right.
Most of these strategies have been around for a while. There must be a reason why they're still extremely uncommon. Is it because they're ridiculous and don't work? Maybe. Is it because people are scared to go into uncharted waters? Also a possibility.
Professionally, I cannot in good conscience recommend any of them, except for the last.
Personally, I say go crazy. Make a splash. Get noticed. Have Akon join your Zoom call. Start a written interview series. Flood Giphy with branded GIFs. Build cool interactive content that goes above and beyond.
If nothing else, you'll make an impression. And that counts for something, right?
I'd love to hear what are some of the crazy and unusual content marketing strategies you've done or come across. Let me know in the comments!