What exactly is a technology company in 2019? Just as every class offered at a women’s college is partially a gender studies course, every company making money today is likely, at least in part, a technology company—unless you’re Dunder Mifflin.
But that makes sense. It’s extremely difficult to turn a profit without offering (or leveraging) some kind of tech in 2019, which means marketing those products has become very complex. It’s looking more and more like the intro sequence of HBO’s Silicon Valley.
Among the legions scrambling toward profitability are tech startups (unicorn or otherwise), legacy companies adding new branches of innovation, B2B tech, and consumer tech, just to name a few. Many are chasing the path set forth by the technology titans: Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook.
We’ve surveyed the offerings of some of our favorite tech companies in order to bring you a short list of stand-out content marketing. Most of us could learn a thing or two from these industry leaders.
Slack | The State of Work Report
Every brand wants to carve out a space of authority. Releasing a branded data report on your industry is the perfect way to do that. Published by Slack, the company that brought you the biggest disruption to corporate communication since Gmail, the annual State of Work report isn’t just a nice advertisement; it’s a genuinely useful piece of content for anyone who needs to think about how workspaces are built.
By gathering data, Slack makes a compelling case for streamlining office communications. The report is interesting enough that the company doesn’t have to seed CTAs throughout the copy, but any reader who enjoys it will likely conclude that Slack knows the lay of the land really well.
2019’s report found that workers who feel misaligned from their company’s central goal are the most likely to feel unhappy in their jobs: “When we’re not in sync with our company’s goals, we tend to feel more pessimistic about where our company is headed, and that’s reflected in our perception and experience of our workplace across a wide range of factors, from collaboration to productivity to compensation.”
What’s one way to connect your employees to your C-suite and a company’s high level strategy, you might ask? Downloading a chat program like Slack might help. Just saying.
Buffer | The Science of Social Media
There’s a paradox to branded podcasts. Every brand on earth wants to create an engaging podcast, but it’s hard to think of listeners who actually prefer branded programming.
But, like GE’s incredible show The Message, Buffer’s branded podcast is actually an exception to this rule. If you’re looking to dive into issues related to communication, marketing, and publishing, during your commute, you could do worse than tuning in to Buffer’s The Science of Social Media.
In one particularly interesting episode, co-host Heather-Mae Pusztai breaks down social copy into more detail than seems possible. “Consider the specific letters in the words you’re using,” she said, “particularly when it comes to stop consonants and glide consonants. Stop consonants are those that cause the vocal tract to block when pronouncing the consonant. Glide consonants do not obstruct the vocal tract and are quite frictionless when spoken.” Stop consonants, according to Pusztai, are ideal for clustering around your CTA, because they force the reader to pause.
Additionally, Buffer writes up a blog post for each podcast episode, which is a really great way to drive additional traffic and ensure that your audio content ranks on search. The Science of Social Media is just a great content product, and it enhances Buffer’s brand identity without getting into the promotional weeds.
Blendtec | Will it Blend?
The conceit of Blendtec’s massively popular YouTube series is simple: using their blender products, the company tosses in ridiculous objects to see if their patented blade technology will shred it. Put simply, “Will it Blend?” is a masterwork of a social campaign—it’s actually a deft bit of product marketing, wrapped up in a platform-specific package that respects the kind of content YouTubers like.
Based on the tone, costuming, and set design, you can tell watching the videos that Blendtec didn’t just start churning out this content on a whim. It researched what works on YouTube, and it paid off. The brand’s channel has 876,000 subscribers, and the top video (blending an iPad) has been viewed 18 million times.
Bumble | The BFF Tour
When I was single and living in a new city, I relied on Bumble for finding dates. For that, the app rocks. But when it came to finding girlfriends to meet up and confide in, I was definitely out of luck, relying on long distance phone calls with faraway buds.
Thanks to Bumble’s BFF option, singles can use the dating app to meet up platonically with new people. This update to the dating platform was launched with a live events tour, which followed a traveling airstream trailer. It’s that fun loving, surprising bit of event marketing (and content marketing!) that lands Bumble on our list.
Capitalizing on the “pop-up cocktail event” craze that’s been sweeping the nation for over a year, the BFF Tour offered a social setting for lonely singles trying to find their crew, and it fit perfectly with Bumble’s other marketing events.
Dell Technologies’ Perspectives | Girl Scouting for the STEM Age
Modern consumers want to purchase goods and services from brands that reflect their personal beliefs—the data tells us that much. That’s why creating content about empowering girls in STEM was a great move for Dell Technologies, the tech company that puts out the digital magazine Perspectives.” (Full disclosure: Contently partners with Dell Technologies to produce Perspectives.)
By describing a tech-related event that might seem small to most audiences—one girl scout troop leader taking her girls to a coding academy—Dell Technologies centers its brand in a detailed discussion. The story’s existence implies that the brand values even the smallest movements in its industry. Best of all, it leaves the reader feeling inspired about the world.
Squanch Games | Branded subreddit and discord
Few creators have a better understanding of our digital world than Justin Roiland, co-creator of the uber-popular cartoon Rick and Morty and head of the VR brand Squanch Games. Maybe because Roiland’s cartoon picked up steam in online fan communities, he was fully aware of the power of user-generated content when he launched his games studio.
Instead of waiting for consumers to start conversations about Squanch, Roiland and his team created dedicated spaces on the platforms their target audience was already using: Reddit and Discord. Combing through the discussion channels, you don’t see a lot of intrusion or advertisement from Roiland himself—unless he’s doing an AMA (Redditspeak for “Ask Me Anything” session)—but both websites are linked on Squanch’s homepage. They bear an official stamp of approval, which makes users feel like their conversations are being heard.
No matter how you fit into the technology industry, you can find creative ways to stand out by studying your target audience. That’s the bright line connecting our favorite content marketing campaigns from tech brands. The best ones meet consumers halfway.