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Content marketing is going through a transition and Indian brand marketers are finding ways and means to make the most of their activities on this medium. Though most marketers are aware of the importance of investing in content marketing, it’s still a learning curve for them.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, only 38% marketers are effectively fetching the right kind of ROI on their initiatives. There was a time when viral content was the parameter to judge the success of any content marketing initiative. Content marketing’s horizon is way beyond just getting a social audience. It can be used in fetching lead generation, lead nurturing, brand personalisation, sales and other things. Hence, it’s time to unlearn a lot and stop judging a content piece through just its virality angle. The focus should be quality content that helps in achieving some specific business goals.

Anika Agarwal

Anika Agarwal, Senior Vice-President and Head, Marketing, Digital and Direct Sales, Max Bupa Health Insurance, said, “The obsession with virality does not solve any brand’s purpose as one cannot guarantee an authentic and meaningful virality of any kind of content. One may also miss reaching out to the right kind of audience amid all the viral chaos.”

“For a successful content, make the effort to observe, over the time, what content strikes a chord with the kind of audience you’d most like to engage with and whether you have been able to send out the right kind of messaging via that content,” added Agarwal.

While everyone embark on content journeys of their own, we see the content space flooding with almost every piece going viral as there are scientific means and methods to do it these days. In this scenario, the consumers tend to forget the brand associated with a particular viral content piece. Therefore, ideally, the objective of the brand should not be limited to virality.

Aditya Bhat

Aditya Bhat, Jio Studios, said, “There are numerous content initiatives that might have gone viral but one might not even recall the names of the brands. The intention of brands should not be virality. Having virality as an objective is like making a film movie with an already set agenda of fetching Rs 500 crore from it. The intention should always be creating good movies. Certain good movies are nominated for Oscars but need not to be viral.”

He said, “The onus should be on the brand manager. Virality should not be the brand objective, but the end result.”

Debarpita Banerjee

Debarpita Banerjee, Head of FCB’s Fuel Content, India believes that virality is only the starting point of doing any form of content but making an impact should be the ultimate goal for the brands.

“As digital marketing matures, virality has now become the starting point but not the end game. Viral videos do fetch salience for a short period of time and I don’t think ‘viral’ as a word should be seen as the enemy. I think viral is important but what goes missing is how a brand is activating the idea, beyond making a video that spreads like viral. Virality is something that everyone wants. Everyone wants their content to spread. But that doesn’t mean that it has created an impact. The impact depends on whether the content has brought about a change — thought, behavioural or cultural.”

Then why do brands still run after fetching views, impressions and likes?

Banerjee answered, “Marketers love numbers and they need a certain validation that will build a case for their Return on Investment. I don’t see many marketers chasing true impact in the marketplace. Virality, on the other hand, is easier to chase, easy to monitor and a tangible number to show as ROI. It is like a quick return. On the other hand, impact takes time, and will eventually show results over a longer term.”

Gopa Kumar

Seconding Banerjee’s thought, Gopa Kumar, Executive Vice-President, Isobar India, says the real measure of content becoming successful is that how much it has become a part of the conversations of people. The marketers should concentrate on the quality of impact than just sheer numbers.

Kumar said, “A content piece pushed with money gets reach and the metrics you want, but from a conversation or impact point of view, not necessary all viral videos have a huge impact. If the piece of content doesn’t become a part of the conversation, it is a half done job.”

To summarise, content marketing as an exercise should be practised for some qualitative objectives and not just quantitative ones like fetching virality.

Shivaji Dasgupta

Shivaji Dasgupta, Founder, INEXGRO Brand Advisory, mentioned, “Most of the marketers are in a kind of quantitative trap. But the role of content marketing is to drive qualitative engagement. The marketers who are fully aware of the potential of content will utilise the space in fetching qualitative objectives and the others will just look at content in form of another standard communication mix they would want to do.”