What Katy Perry taught me about content-marketing

There’s more to the pop star than crowd surfing and Russell Brand. She can teach us a thing or five about content-marketing too.

1. Use visuals
Katy Perry, the 29-year old singer, songwriter and actress has been one of the most consistent hit-makers since she burst onto the music scene in 2008 with I Kissed a Girl. A big part of her appeal is her look. She’s become known for wearing elaborate costumes – often featuring at least one moving part – her hair colour, wigs and stunning makeup. And her stadium shows make full use of visual effects and props. During the Prismatic World Tour she wore a swirling dress covered in pyrotechnics for her single Firework.

Perry is memorable and captures attention with great use of visuals, and you can make your content stand out by making it more visual, too. Visual content is easier for the human brain to process, and it’s a great online driver. Just look at Pinterest, which is now the fourth most popular social networking site. So, use stunning photography and graphics; inspire customers with ideas on how to use your products with video; make the most of user-generated visual content; checklists and ‘how-to’ images perform well on social media.

Fact: Tweets with image links score twice the engagement rate of those without

2. Differentiate
Katy Perry is the daughter of a Pentecostal pastor and has used her strict religious background to differentiate herself from the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna, at the racy mature end, and poplets like Taylor Swift and One Direction at the other. Banned from watching MTV while growing up, Perry says she no longer identifies herself as religious but says: ‘I pray all the time – for self-control, for humility.’

Your content will beat off the competition if you differentiate it and give it some depth. As well as using those visuals, there are lots of things you can do to stand out: make what you sell feel more personal; break away from conventional wisdom; reposition the category; treat people differently. Just make sure you mean it.

Fact: In terms of sales, long-form copy outperforms short-form by 40.54%

3. Engage
Katy Perry has nearly 55m Twitter followers. Her millions of fans around the world are called #KatyCats and her engaged audience hangs on to every word she says/types. She told Rolling Stone magazine recently: ‘I’m not, like, a crazy “I’m gonna die for my fans” type. I’m very grateful for fans’ support, but I’m not thirsty or desperate.’ But she always makes sure her fans feel the love. In New York during her world tour she sat down and posed for a selfie with excited fans in the front row. At a UK gig in Manchester, she invited a fan on stage and did a dance for her.

A great way to build an engaged audience is to make engaging content. How to do that? Leave readers with questions, make them reflect on how they can use the information you’ve given them. Write a stunning introduction. Make sure users know why they should care and what you’ll be giving them; make them want to read it. And if you can, make your content provocative. If your copy provokes comments, debate and links, the search engines will pick it up.

Fact: Six in 10 consumers say that after reading a custom publication, they feel like they know more, and feel better, about the sponsor company.

4. Share
In 2013 Katy Perry travelled to Madagascar on behalf of UNICEF, where the singer visited a child protection centre and met abused and abandoned children and young mothers receiving support and counselling in the capital, Antananarivo. On her California Dreams Tour in 2011, a portion of ticket sales was donated to The Children’s Health Fund, Generosity Water and The Humane Society, and a portion of merchandise sales was donated to The Red Cross.

If people find content that they think is truly great, they’ll want to share it. So how do you make shareable content? As SEO wizard Elisa Gabbert recommends on her blog: Make it truly awesome, something that you yourself would want to share. Spend time on ‘framing’ it so that it shows up on Facebook. Think in terms of funnels – the more people that see your headline and feel intrigued, the more of them are going to click and read, maximising the potential of them sharing it with their networks, and so on. And use social sharing tools such as Click to Tweet.

Fact: Consumers are twice as likely to share social media content via a smartphone than on a desktop, where most sharing is done via email.

5. Resonate
She may be a pop princess, but Katy Perry is also an astute and wealthy businesswoman, so as a voice she’s listened to, her image is powerful and she’s seen as a symbol of empowerment to young girls. She takes being a role model seriously, and told GQ magazine: ‘I’ve never had any plastic surgery,’ she says proudly. ‘Not a nose, not a chin, not a cheek, not a tit. So my messages of self-empowerment are truly coming from an au-natural product.’

Great content should resonate with readers. How do you do that? Try to empathise with your target audience. Then, focus on doing a few things really well with the content. Make sure you’re consistent. And finally, ensure that your values come across well in everything you do.

Fact: More than 27m pieces of content are shared every day

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