It has thousands of devoted readers, its videos often gain over 300k viewers and its stories regularly go viral. Yet it’s not a mainstream media outlet, it’s a brand-owned content platform run by a company that’s 125 years old.
GE Reports (owned by the venerable GE) is a digital channel that focuses on science, technology and innovation. But what exactly are digital channels and what can brands learn from the success of GE Reports?
On one end of the digital content spectrum are corporate websites, these are primarily marketing tools. On the other are news outlets (BBC News, Wired magazine etc) and they are purely editorial platforms. Everything in-between can be classed as content marketing. And this is the space where digital channels exist and flourish.
Yes, But What Exactly Are They??
Digital channels can be websites, or blogs; they can be smartTV channels; they can be YouTube video channels or social channels. Or they can be all of the above. They can be B2B, B2C or B2J (business to journalist). But what they all have in common is that they place storytelling and editorial credibility at the heart of their offering.
Digital channels are not just a repository of content (like many corporate YouTube channels), they’re curated. And they don’t have to be owned by just one brand. They can be sponsored or paid for by a number of brands. Take Food Culture Media. This is a hub of editorial content that focuses on the food and beverage sector in Germany. The content is a blend of text articles, images and videos aimed at trade journalists and an engaged audience interested in the industry.
But What Do Brands Gain From Digital Channels?
- They gain authenticity, authority and editorial credibility. Features that have traditionally been the domain of news outlets.
- They gain the opportunity to ‘own’ an area of thought leadership that’s relevant to their business.
- They can create a loyal and engaged audience without shoving marketing messages down an increasingly cynical consumer’s throat.
- They allow them to shape a debate/narrative, change a perception or answer criticism without it looking like a heavy-handed PR exercise.
- They don’t have to fork out the costs of traditional TV channels or traditional advertising.
- The content goes directly to their own audience (or a fully engaged niche audience) thus by-passing traditional media outlets which may have their own editorial agendas.
Defining a digital channel can be like nailing a jelly to the wall. They come in all shapes, sizes and guises. They can be owned by major global companies such as GE or they can be a simple set of blogs for a start-up. But what we always recommend to anyone interested in content marketing is that you must make your content informative and relevant to your audience. You must produce/commission it regularly and you must make it available across a variety of digital and social platforms.
If you are interested in content marketing and/or the creation of a digital channel, then do get in touch. Our team of marketing, creative and editorial experts are always happy to help. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.