The Rise of Microproperties

Microproperties are a valuable content marketing tool for brand and publishers of all sizes. Although microproperties have been around for many years, the massive increase in the creation and consumption of content has lead to a influx in the number of microprerties being launched by everyone from Fortune 500 companies to media companies to startups.

Vice Creators Project

Media companies like Vice Magazine already take the microproperty approach to crafting and distributing content; as a matter of fact, Intel collaborated with Vice to produce The Creators Project, an award-winning branded content destination dedicated to interviewing some of today’s most relevant artists and connecting with potential mainstream users of Intel technology. The initiative has reached millions of viewers and contributed significantly to keep Intel’s brand relevant with a typically fickle audience.

How is this possible? What makes these microproperties so effective?

Microproperties Can Reach Mainstream Media

Xerox partnered up with Forbes to create a branded publication called Chief Optimist. This franchise specifically focuses on interviewing thought leaders from different verticals and features content that would appeal to C-level executives. Xerox then leverages Forbes’ credibility and uses its platform to reach its target readers. According to this case study, in just nine months after launching, Xerox has led to over a thousand new sales appointments and created over $1 billion of pipeline revenue.

That’s not to say advertising and partnerships are the only way to land mainstream media syndication. Norton created a microproperty called Mobile Security, targeting users of mobile devices. Its content is based on the themes of protection, security, and safety. This microproperty was featured on Huffington Post, which added to Norton’s credibility and created an opportunity to reach more readers.

Microproperties reaching mainstream coverage is nothing new; almost seven years ago, Intuit hit Forbes with its Tax Almanac. While it was probably not the most appealing or sensational topic, it was valuable for users and gained a press opportunity simply by continuing to be extremely useful for a specific slice of users. Only a microproperty can be lean enough to target such a thin scope of users in a deep way, and be substantial enough to reach mainstream media as a result.

Microproperties are Inherently Shareable

Content creation is not always a walk in the park; sometimes, the subject is just extremely ordinary or ubiquitous. For example, how can content creators make communication infrastructures appealing to potential users? Cisco managed to pull it off with their Work Together initiative; at the time of writing, its interactive website features various statistics and pieces of information being displayed as the user clicks through animated transitions to various floors on a building, with an accompanying video of a Cisco user closing a deal over the phone in the span of an elevator ride up to his residence. The initiative circulated well on Twitter, despite a lack of heavy advertising and branded content partnership.

Rather than appearing as a crony of a company, content marketing is most effective when the sponsoring company allows for the team to focus on content and operate practically independently. As a byproduct of autonomy, content marketing teams are able to make sure their content is either entertaining or informative (or both) without hard sells that would turn away long-term, loyal readers.

This is the case with BabyCenter. Despite its apparent independence, it is actually a microproperty created by Johnson & Johnson. The company had originally created BabyCenter to target new families and introduce them to various Johnson & Johnson products. The BabyCenter touches thousands of loyal readers every month, and features products from competitors as well; they focus on creating objective, compelling, content — much like any other publication would. This positions them to launch many marketing initiatives, such as collecting data from a sample of 85,000 loyal readers (with over 90% response rate). According to this interview, the BabyCenter reaches over 8 million new and expectant mothers in the United States, which is an impressive 78% of the total. A lot of this distribution is done through Word-of-Mouth marketing, simply because BabyCenter’s content is so valuable that aspiring and new mothers feel compelled to share it with others.

Microproperties Resonate with Readers

As the barriers to communication steadily decrease, the amount of content being created increases. This deluge of content makes it difficult for any one piece to stand out from the noise of the other content. As a result, being specific and relevant gives content an edge to reach readers more effectively. One-on-one marketing has grown more popular and effective as a result. As Fabcom CEO and author Brian Fabiano puts it in his book Neuromarketology, brands need to start seeing themselves as diamonds — entities that reflect various brand attributes to match the corresponding values of its many different segments.

Enterprises have the opportunity to identify the many different segments, and market much more effectively towards them. For example, IBM’s Smarter Planet has made a huge splash in all of IBM’s target markets. According to Boston University Professor Edward Noches, Smarter Planet also commands huge amounts of Research & Development money and advertising budget. IBM understands the importance of microproperties; in addition to Smarter Planet, it also powers Midsize Insider, a much leaner microproperty dedicated to targeting midsize business owners.

Similarly, Dell partnered up with UBM TechWeb to create Enterprise Efficiency. It’s a microproperty where Dell executives can voice their opinion free of advertising or other forms of noise. Enterprise Efficiency’s content specifically targets CIOs and other IT executives. The publication has generated millions of pageviews, while steadily engaging users and generating new registrants (and qualified leads for Dell).

Closing Thoughts

Without specifically targeting audiences, content marketing is a much more difficult task to successfully execute on. Microproperties are the solution to this: creating content that is perfect for a specific range of customers. By using microproperties, brands have a greater opportunity to build longer-lasting relationships with prospects, enhance lead generation and increase brand recognition.

Image Source: Screenshot - The Creators Project

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