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What SMBs can learn about content marketing from Tiger King

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Love them or hate them, Joe Exotic aka the Tiger King, and Carole Baskin were the breakout sensations that kept people all around the world entertained during lockdown. Interestingly, while they despised each other they also shared many traits - one being that they both mastered the content marketing game to promote their small businesses globally, using very little money. 

In particular, Carole Baskin got into the social media game early on and put a small animal rescue center in Florida on the world map. Today, her now infamous Big Cat Rescue business has amassed nearly 3 million Facebook fans and 1.2 million YouTube subscribers, which is impressive for a mom and pop business. 

In a time when most SMBs are facing serious financial blows, being able to market your business on a microbudget is now more crucial than ever. Video marketing isn’t suited to every business and it can be hard to justify making endless videos for a B2B business in a niche industry, however, many business owners in the health and wellness, travel, leisure and entertainment industry are realizing the value in it. 

Now, with just a camera (or smartphone) and some inexpensive editing tools, any SMB can follow in the footsteps of the experts of self-promotion themselves.

The different social media channels

One of the most challenging parts of being a small business owner today is keeping on top of all the various social media channels - YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and SnapChat. They all require unique strategies and for the videos to be cut to different sizes and lengths, which can be a lot of work. 

The focus of this article is mainly for longer video content to be created for YouTube, which businesses can then share or upload directly onto their Facebook page. Snapchat and Instagram are both shorter form content and TikTok has its own whole set of rules. 

Finding your brand voice

Before beginning any great marketing adventure, the first step is always to define your brand voice. Whether Carole Baskin agrees or not, at its core she and Joe had the same business - people paid to see their Big Cats. One distinguishing feature however, is that they each had completely different brand voices. Carole played the role of the sweet Earth mother, while Joe was the outrageous, flamboyant, gun-loving counterpart. 

What is your company’s brand voice? Are you sassy? Serious and professional? Outrageous? Earthy? Sophisticated? Stylish? Funky? Modern? Classic? A mix of all of the above? 

Carole and Joe both knew what their personal brand was and exaggerated it for their marketing purposes. Carole was rarely seen not wearing cat inspired prints and flowers in her hair. Joe was famous for his flamboyant shirts and cowboy hats. They knew their personal brand was a driving force in their overall business revenue and their personal brand touched everything they did. 

The Tools

The great thing about content marketing is that when you have your initial tools in place it typically doesn’t cost much more money to continually create engaging content - with just a smartphone and editing tools you can consistently churn out further content (if you do want to increase the production value of your content you can always invest in a camera, tripod and lighting kit).

Filming Locations and Backgrounds 

When it comes to filming a piece of content, one thing that separates the amateurs from the pros is good backgrounds and lighting. Watch any professional YouTuber and you will notice that they have created a dedicated location for them to film their videos. You don’t see them sitting with just a wall behind them. 

They create an interesting background in the distance with lighting that makes them look their best. Carole Baskin would film herself out and about in her park while Joe actually went a step further and set up a dedicated greenscreen in his house so he could superimpose in different backgrounds. This requires more effort and editing, but it is becoming a more common practice. 

Let’s talk content marketing strategy 

A lot of people who approach content marketing share the same experience. They get excited about it, start filming some videos, post it on a YouTube or social media channel and expect to instantly be a viral sensation. 

In reality, they only get a handful of views. There are a lot of abandoned YouTube channels from those who became unmotivated and quit. In order to be successful you need a strategy from the start. Here are the main things to consider. 

Post Frequently! 

YouTube favors those who post frequently. Joe and Carole were both constantly filming themselves. Many of the top Youtubers have planned out what they are going to shoot for their next 50 videos. 

SEO Strategy

A crucial factor in determining the success of your content is SEO and tagging. Just like Google, YouTube has its own SEO and you have to work hard at it to climb the rankings and beat out the competition to be listed on the first page. From there, success breeds success. 

When you are creating and posting your videos make sure you get your tagging on point and get them centered around one or a few keywords. Joe and Carole were both creating great content focused on Big Cats and Tigers (at one point, Joe even tried to steal Carole’s SEO thunder by creating a business with a similar name to hers so he could deflect her traffic).

Titles

When it comes to SEO, the titles that you use in your videos are very important. Don’t think about what works best for you, think about how people search for content on YouTube. It’s a search engine. Most people go in looking for something specific, whether it is to educate themselves or be entertained. 

Think about how people would search for your video. Say for example, you own a winery. Yes,  you want to create a video showing everyone how glorious your winery is but what about creating videos that teach people the difference between various grapes and wine? Then think about what people would type into YouTube to find that type of content e.g.:

  • How is wine made?

  • Understanding wine

  • The differences between different wines 

  • Become a wine connoisseur 

You would therefore need to make videos around these topics. Include these keywords in the heading and then also repeat these phrases in the description of the video and in your tagging section. 

Thumbnails 

The thumbnails are the stills that someone sees for your video while browsing YouTube. They are a crucial component in helping someone decide if they want to click on your video versus the one next to it. Take a cool still from your video and use a big font over it with your title so people can see from a distance what the video is about.

Editing 

While today’s social media obsessed generation is well-versed in taking straight forward videos and photos for social networks like Instagram and Facebook, if you are creating video content for your business you will most likely need to edit your videos. 

You will need to add graphics to introduce yourself and your business, include website and social media details on screen, cut out areas where you made mistakes while filming, add music to make it more engaging and fun transitions that make the video more dynamic. Editing used to be something that was left to the professionals but today, editing platforms have become so user-friendly with ready-to-go templates, you can just insert your content...even grandparents are using them!

Final points - have fun and be entertaining 

Carole and Joe loved entertaining people. They both enjoyed the camera and thinking of new ways to engage their audience. Whether or not you liked their music videos, they loved making them. 
So remember, whatever you do, let it be fun! If you are having fun, your target audience will connect with that - and right now people need a reason to smile.

 

Anna Ji is the director of growth at Clipchamp and is responsible for the commercialisation of ClipChamp's products, from customer acquisition, retention to revenue generation. She is a senior business leader with a decade of experience in growth strategy, through-the-line marketing, entrepreneurship, digital strategy and management. She consulted for a wide range of organizations, from technology startups, such as Delivery Hero and Hotel Tonight. Most recently, she established the Digital and Growth Business Unit at Tyro, a fully licensed tech business bank.