1. Using advertising jargon in titles

What do “award-winning”, “best in market” and “fun and fresh” have in common? They sound right off a corny TV commercial that will have you tearing your hair out. 

These jargon might be taglines for advertisements, but they are a huge “no-no” for branded content. Yes, your readers are savvy enough to be able to tell when a post is sponsored, and might scroll past on Facebook if your article or video title just screams “ad” with these words. 

Newsflash: Engagement is zero when there are no click-ins in the first place.

Our recommendation? Think about your reader first, and what kind of problem you’re trying to solve for them, or emotion you wish to stir up. Then, frame your title accordingly before you even start thinking about product placement. 

For instance, look at these two titles which cover the same topic of engagement rings. Which title are you more likely to click?

  1. Fall MADLY In Love With Your Bespoke Gemstone Engagement Ring
  2. A Letter To Singaporean BFs: 3 Singaporean Women Share Why They Don’t Actually Want A Diamond Ring

The first was an actual post we saw on Facebook that garnered 7 shares and 3 likes. For the same client, the second title on TheSmartLocal achieved far more shares instead.

2. Using stock images with no value 

Have you seen the stock image model that appeared in countless ads? Often, branded posts start to look one-and-the-same when marketers are getting images from the same ol’ photo banks. (ShutterStock, iStock, anyone?) 

You’ve probably seen her somewhere. Image credit: Shutterstock

The result is reader fatigue. Our eyes just start to glaze over when we see a predictable photo. Besides, stock photos have a tendency to look unnatural or contrived, since they are shot to be as generic as possible. 

If you’re really keen on making your branded content stand out, invest in in-house photography or hire a professional. Your photos will instantly add value to your readers by delivering unique information.

For instance, at TheSmartLocal, in-house shots are highly dynamic and relatable, leading to clients like Australian Made, Amazon Fresh, Sephora, and Dusit Thani Laguna to give special shout-outs and even use them commercially.

TheSmartLocal is well-versed in various types of photography – from beauty to lifestyle, product or concept shots, we can do it all.

We also value-add through cover images – one of the make-or-break elements when it comes to getting your readers to click into your article.

Like this article on mobile photography tips, we packed in “do”s and “don’t”s in the cover image through use of labels, along with using local models which reflect our target audience’s demographics. 

Our in-house photography strategy is crucial to the success of our articles, with over 25k shares on this article about portrait photography

3. Talking only about your product 

Many marketers are guilty of this. 

“Can we make our product more obvious, please? Can we talk only about our product’s strengths?”

Anything that isn’t revolving around the magical, life-changing properties of the product is on the chopping block. However, counter-intuitively, this results in poorer performance. As a marketer, you are knee-deep in the great stuff about your product or service. As a consumer though, you are exposed to millions of options that say the exact same thing.

Consumers are more receptive and trusting of a brand that can give them something else – value. For example, a haircare article could educate readers on the habits that are causing them to lose hair, instead of promises of a revolutionary shampoo range.

Branded article for PHS HAIRSCIENCE which forefronts reader utility to great success.
Image credit: TheSmartLocal

This results in higher shares and engagement due to the article’s utility, and gets quality views and better brand association in the long run.

In this case, the more you give, the more you get. 

4. Ignoring the importance of social copy

Lots of brands spend hours on the content itself, but treat the social copy that goes with the post as an afterthought. But whatever you write on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter can easily add more information or create FOMO – thus inviting your reader to take the plunge and click in. 

For instance, if you’re writing a Facebook caption for an event, don’t just rehash your article’s content or write an overly long copy like this: 

Instead, keep your caption short and snappy – possibly adding key information that isn’t already covered in the cover image or title. 

For example, this TSL post on the Singapore Night Festival achieved an amazing result of 850 likes and 1.4k shares out of 536,376 followers, which goes to show how powerful social copy can be, if done right.

Pro tip: Try trend-jacking a current trend (like Shang Chi) for a timely Facebook copy!

5. Not investing in SEO

If you’re not even considering SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), you’re losing out a huge volume of traffic that comes in via Google Search long after your article is first posted.

So, make sure that your article title doesn’t just sound nice, but also has keywords within that people might actually search for. Don’t title your article on housing among millennials as “BTO Ai Mai?” – hardly anyone would type that in the search bar. And besides, no one has any clue what your article is gonna be about. *Cues scrolling away*

Instead consider words like “BTO launches” or “BTO renovation ideas” to signal to your readers that it’s gonna be worth their time. Plus, get your brand more eyeballs if they use those keywords to search in future.

Top branded content marketing mistakes

So, there you have it. The cardinal sins most marketers make that could alienate your target audience. With these tips, we hope you’ve learnt something. 

Else, if you wish to tap on TheSmartLocal Media Group’s expertise and best practices for branded content marketing, reach out to us at hello@thesmartlocal.com. We can:

  • Get your campaign eyeballs with compelling content headlines and angles
  • Provide a full suite of photography and videography services
  • Help you develop SEO strategy for evergreen traffic and top spots on Google

We can’t wait to help you get readers enthralled, not annoyed!

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