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Get Inspired by These 3 Content Marketing Innovators

Competition is fierce in this always-connected, digital world. But with the power and reach of social media, snatching up prospects halfway around the world seems like a piece of cake…that is, if a brand is listening carefully to what their competitors are saying to their audiences.

Competitors’ formulas for success are no longer stored away under lock and key. Spying on competitors is fair game, encouraged even, to learn what works and how you can combine successful, outside tactics with your own.

But you shouldn’t limit your research solely to competitors! Be sure to look at what innovators in other industries are doing to keep their audiences engaged and expectant for what’s to come next. Here are three big names to take a look at for content marketing inspiration:


This Internet media company has been making waves for almost a decade, focusing on churning out content that spreads. Fast.

What helps BuzzFeed’s content go viral — whether it’s a listicle, news story or quiz — is the way it writes in different forms depending on which social media platform will share the story.

In an interview with re/code, Jonah Peretti explains how BuzzFeed’s data science team helped pinpoint how BuzzFeed should connect to its various audiences:

“They were able to pull data from the different platforms (…) they started to realize things, like videos about identity and emotion do much better on Facebook. And videos about facts and cool weird things do much better on YouTube.”

While many companies aim to copy BuzzFeed’s hip, entertainment-influenced style of content creation, tone of voice is not one-size-fits-all.

Instead, companies should look at how BuzzFeed identified a target audience for its dress story, crafted a tweet for that particular group of people and saw the post take over the Internet in mere hours.



According to this fast-growing viral website’s mission, Upworthy aims to “draw massive amounts of attention to the topics that really matter.”

Upworthy’s target audience is quite general: all Americans. What seems like a risky, unattainable target is actually within reach, as the company claims that 78 percent of Americans either liked or have a friend who liked its Facebook page.

But that’s not the only secret behind Upworthy’s success. To get the country thinking more deeply about societal issues, Upworthy leverages the “curiosity gap,” by tapping into readers’ emotions.

Similar to BuzzFeed, Upworthy scours the Web for stories that will catch and keep the attention of its audience and make readers think deeply about topics that are otherwise buried beneath layers of other content.

Then, Upworthy develops up to 25 potential headlines for the content its looking to curate, a tactic stolen from David Ogilvy, and tests the headlines alongside thumbnail images.

Two lessons can be learned from Upworthy’s strategy. First, companies should brainstorm multiple headlines before blasting final copy out, whether they run options by a dedicated testing team or a few social media-savvy coworkers. Second, companies should always include an image with their content – doing so increases the chances of readers’ clicking on, reading and sharing content.


What started as a technology-focused blog in 2005 has expanded into a broader content hub, bringing the Mashable community, and a new generation of visitors, with it.

This company succeeds by evolving with the digital world as it changes, not as an afterthought. In an interview with Hubspot, Lexie Riegelhaupt points out that Mashable was one of the few media companies to join Twitter in the early days of social media.

Mashable also realized that its community was looking for stories on subjects its reporters weren’t always covering. After realizing that digital media’s intersection was not limited to technology and has expanded to include entertainment, business and cultural topics as well, Mashable made strides towards a new version of its brand.

While the Mashable team kept covering stories based on its original technology focus, the company also looked at what its audience was seeking and how it could grow to meet these needs.

Change is a constant in today’s digital world. While your company will certainly want to choose to implement competitors’ and innovators’ successful marketing and content creation tactics, you should also be flexible while creating your strategy.

What works today will certainly not be as successful a year from now. Look to social media analytics for insight on what efforts may need a little TLC or should be retired from your strategy forever.


Images: opensource.comwoodleywonderworks (Creative Commons)

About Katie Gaab

Katie Gaab is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Previously the senior editor for Help A Reporter Out (HARO), she enjoys connecting audiences to exciting, new content. She's a dancer, avid concert-goer, foreign language nerd and book worm. Find her on Twitter @kathryngaab.

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