This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tsunagu Japan. All opinions are 100% mine.
I recently had a chance to work with Tsunagu Japan on an influencer marketing campaign (more about that below), and in working with them I realized that many can learn from what they have been doing with their content marketing strategy.
Tsunagu Japan is the media arm of Tsunagu, a Japanese social media company offering overseas Facebook Page management for Japanese companies. Most Japanese companies focus their social media marketing on the domestic market, so after successfully creating and and managing a community of 1,000,000 global fans with their Cool and Kawaii Japan Facebook page, Tsunagu decided to offer their services to other Japanese companies to help them do the same.
Why the media site, then? Tsunagu Japan serves the purpose of developing a community of fans of all things related to Japan, which can only help when they have Japanese clients looking to promote their products and services outside of Japan in the future. In this aspect, it’s no different from, say, a marketing automation software company blogging about marketing automation and trying to attract future users by talking about all things marketing automation. It helps them attract users, but indirectly it helps them yield thought leadership and create a community that might support its product in a similar way that Tsunagu Japan fans might end up supporting Tsunagu customers. Whether it’s B2B or B2C, a community based solely around content will yield thought leadership and have many benefits to your business.
Let’s now take a deeper look into the best practices that I found from working with them. I have divided these best practices into three different sections: the infrastructure for their content marketing strategy, the content itself, and promotion of the content.
A content marketing strategy should include a well thought out infrastructure to house and make your content more engaging. Tsunagu Japan has clearly done this through a variety of ways that we can and should emulate.
Tsunagu Japan created a separate domain for their English content marketing. While they could have added a blog to their business website, separating the two makes better sense based on their objective: To attract a foreign audience that want to learn more about Japan and Japanese culture. In this way, they can concentrate on developing the content platform that is Tsunagu Japan in order to better meet their content marketing strategy objective for the platform as well as their long-term business strategy for Tsunagu.
Social Share Buttons
We all know the importance of social share buttons, but are you always using enough of the most appropriate ones for your content? If you don’t include a social share button for a particular site, chances are that only the heaviest users of that platform might share your content with their network. This is why you need to make sure that your social share buttons have the potential networks that your readers use covered. Whether or not you personally use these social networks is irrelevant: It’s all about the reader and what networks they might be using.
With this in mind, it was refreshing to see that Tsunagu Japan went out of their way and beyond the normal Facebook and Twitter buttons to include those for Pinterest (which is a no-brainer but you’d be surprised as to sites out there that still don’t include this button), Google Plus (which is still ignored by many), and even Reddit. They even have an email button so that you can send the article to a friend the “old fashioned” way. Tsunagu Japan clearly has covered their bases with these options – have you?
One of the challenges to any content marketing strategy is in attracting visitors to your website to read other content that you have created. In other words, how can we display what information in order to lead visitors to dig deeper into our site and discover more of our content?
The below image is only a portion of the information that Tsunagu Japan includes on their righthand sidebar. As readers scrolls through any given blog post, they will see the four types of information appear in a visually attractive way in the righthand sidebar:
- Search Bar
- Recent Posts
No matter how we like to discover other content that might interest us, Tsunagu Japan has given us every option possible all in one central location. While the organization of content will be different for every site, the model outlined above is a good one to emulate, especially if you can differentiate between your tags and categories.
Informational widgets are one way of leading visitors into discovering more content, but we can do so in a visual way using the “carousel” type of widget. This is exactly what Tsunagu Japan has done with the visual carousel widget that you see featured prominently right under the main navigation bar and above the main content window and pictured below:
Rather than simply focus on just imagery like many of these carousels do, they maintained a good balance between text and image to help guide you to reading more content on the site. A similar visual guide also appears when you hover over one of the main category areas. This way of visually guiding your visitor to discover more content is something I see rarely done in content marketing.
Tsunagu Japan has taken an approach that showcases best practices in creating and analyzing content, making their content approachable, leveraging the visual, and placing importance on titles.
PDCA Data-Driven Approach to Content
While Tsunagu Japan knew they wanted to blog about Japan, what about Japan would attract foreign visitors to read their content? Like every other content marketing strategy, they strove to create content based on themes that they believe their readers would be interested in, but they took it one step further to take a completely data-driven approach to decide on their content. Beginning with Google search volume they found the most searched keywords and utilized them to create content. After publishing the content they then looked at how social media audiences reacted to their content and use that feedback to tweak their ongoing content marketing strategy. Using this PDCA approach to social media, Tsunagu Japan has been able to refine both their themes, which are currently Travel, Fashion, Food, Entertainment, Art and Life, as well as the weight of publishing they give each of these main categories of content.
Make the Content Approachable
What if you are trying to educate the public on your product or industry but you are still using a lot of keywords that they don’t understand? While this might not be the case for your industry or product, we are still told that often our content is too complex and we should be aiming for a lower score as indicated by Flesch-Kincaid readability tests. Either way content marketers always need to be on the side of their targeted reader and make their content more approachable.
Tsunagu Japan had a unique challenge in that Japanese culture itself is foreign to many. That’s why they approached their content with the strategic assumption that the reader would know very little if anything about the intricacies of Japanese culture. For this reason, any mention of special Japanese terms or Japan-centric cultural artifacts are always explained in detail in plain English after their mention.
Leverage the Visual
We all know about the power of visual content in social media, but few have leveraged visuals intertwined in their content as well as Tsunagu Japan has. Nearly every article they publish has at least a few large sized and beautifully pinnable photographs that they have curated across the Internet. Japan is a photogenic culture to begin with, but Tsunagu Japan has clearly made it a point to ensure that vivid visuals are an intricate part of its content marketing strategy.
Importance of Titles
The importance of titles in content marketing cannot be understated. Not only are the titles (or at least meta-titles) crucial to ensure that when your content appears in search engines that others would want to click through to view it, they are even more important in social media when users are bombarded in realtime with numerous titles to choose from. Tsunagu Japan has followed a best practice of making their titles, in their words, “Short & Catchy.” They also use numbered lists as titles, so it’s no surprise that titled posts such as 30 reasons to go to Japan before you die and 40 Haagen Dazs flavors only sold in Japan!! were trending as I write this post.
Content marketing would not be content marketing without promotion, right? For this purpose, Tsunagu Japan has relied on Influencer Marketing and Brand Ambassadors to help strategically spread the word about their content.
Tsunagu Japan believes in the power of influencer marketing to strategically target geographic regions of the world to build brand awareness and generate website traffic. While I can’t go into details about the influencer marketing campaign I created the strategy for and managed the implementation of, we did end up working with a great group of influential content creators that were able to participate in our campaign in a natural and authentic way which added to the effectiveness in helping Tsunagu Japan reach its objectives.
Tsunagu Japan doesn’t have the employee base to run an employee advocacy program at scale, but that doesn’t mean they can’t leverage the same concept. Rather than tapping into the community of their employees, they decided to create a brand ambassador program that tied into the reason that would attract readers to their content: An interest in Japan and Japanese culture.
Rather than make their program campaign-based or seasonal, Tsunagu Japan has featured their Brand Ambassador program literally front and center on their top navigation bar. They also are very clear about what it means to be a Brand Ambassador and what the benefits of becoming one are: Brand ambassadors are expected to share Tsunagu Japan’s content through social media as well as have the opportunity to contribute to improving the site through exchanging opinions in their private Facebook Group – and even potentially contributing an article to the website. Since launching the program in the middle of August this year, they have attracted a group of more than 230 ambassadors with a great number coming from the United States, Singapore, and the Philippines, and through them have received a great deal of traffic back to Tsunagu Japan.
Tsunagu Japan has excelled at the creation, publishing, and promotion of content with a strong reader-centric view that has helped them become a popular destination for anyone looking for information on Japan. For that reason, their content marketing strategy yields some best practices that all companies can and should be emulating.
What were your key takeaways from Tsunagu Japan’s content marketing strategy?