Brands want to be publishers, but not that many are actually following through with useful content that people want.

“For content to be successful (high views, shares, engagement) on the social Web, it needs to be entertaining or add value,” said Joe Barbagallo, social media manager at Volvo Cars North America. “I don’t know the last time that a hard selling piece of content struck me as entertaining or moved me further down the path to purchase.”

Here are five examples of marketers doing content right.

1. American Express’ Open Forum

Unique visitors per month: 199,000
Target: Small businesses
Topics of focus: Customers, leadership, marketing, money, technology

This is the granddaddy of brand content initiatives. American Express has poured millions into this effort over the past few years — and it shows. It’s a place where entrepreneurs can get expert insights from influencers like Guy Kawasaki and Pete Cashmore of Mashable.

2. Procter & Gamble’s Being Girl

Unique visitors per month: 146,000
Target: Teenage girls
Topics of focus: Feminine care, body, relationships, beauty and style, entertainment, products

Back in 2007, Procter & Gamble research found that teenage girls want information about feminine care, but are embarrassed and uncomfortable talking about it with friends and family. Iris Prager, an expert women’s health studies, leads a team that edits all content on BeingGirl.com and writes all the responses to visitors’ questions. The site carries tips for dating, sexual harassment at school and dealing with mood swings is relevant to the target audience.

3. Degree Men’s The Adrenalist

Unique visitors per month:
169,000
Target: Young, active males
Topics of focus: Sports, speed, adventure, gear and gadgets

The Adrenalist focuses on action sports and racing. It features first-hand accounts from athletes as well as gear and travel advice, all things that young, active males are into.

4. Procter & Gamble’s Home Made Simple

Unique visitors per month: 397,000
Target: Mothers
Topics of focus: Food and recipes, organization, crafts, décor, gardening and cleaning

The Home Made Simple takes a variety of P&G home products and focuses on what they allow customers to do: create a happy and enjoyable home. That means pieces on everything from decorating with reclaimed wood, getting nasty stains out and furnishing children’s rooms.

5. L’Oreal Makeup.com

Unique visitors per month: 45,000
Target: Women
Topics of focus: Beauty and celebrity news, beauty trends, products, makeup how tos and fashion industry event coverage

This site is an interesting effort to mix content and commerce. It has your typical how-to piece — “How to Create the Perfect Beach Waves” — but also features related products. The mesh works in ways the “hard sell” doesn’t with other content efforts. Women interested in makeup looks are likely to be receptive to related product pitches.

Image via Shutterstock

  • LinkedIn Icon