Thanks in part to their perfectly blended harmonies and wickedly clever arrangements, the a cappella group Pentatonix are on a massive winning streak right now. You may not be able to sing like Pentatonix, but you can learn from their success. In addition to their abundant musical talents, they are also experts at content marketing.
Without the benefit of a major label, a hit single, or radio support, Pentatonix has racked up hundreds of millions of views online. Since they don't have the resources to push their music to the masses through traditional marketing, they instead employ a marketing strategy that makes the fans come to them.
Here are five tips you can borrow from the group to make your content marketing resonate with audiences:
1. Repetition and Patience
The goal of content marketing isn't to become an overnight sensation. You have to slowly build an audience and you have to persevere through the content releases that don't go anywhere. Pentatonix has certainly released their share of videos that were popular, but not viral. However, they stuck with it until they reached the tipping point.
As a marketer, you need to form a contract with your audience where, in exchange for their attention, you in turn promise to consistently deliver content that meets their expectations.
The internet is full of viral hits that happened purely by dumb luck. The true talent comes into play when you're able to leverage your past success by providing a steady stream of new content. Once you have a hit, your new job is to meets the expectations you've just set.
Bestselling business author Seth Godin views content marketing in terms of gaining and keeping an audience's permission. As he wrote in one of his posts, "Real permission works like this: if you stop showing up, people complain, they ask where you went.... That's permission."
3. Search For Your Audience
Whether you're releasing a video, a blog post, an infographic, or some other kind of content, you can amplify your message by tapping into the power of other people's audiences. In addition to promoting their own channel, Pentatonix also collaborates with other popular YouTube personalities. They've expanded their reach by working with comedian Colleen Ballinger (AKA Miranda Sings), singers Todrick Hall and Tori Kelly, and violinist Lindsey Stirling.
4. Ask For It!
Do you want people to share your content? Ask them! Do you want people to engage in a discussion? Ask them! Do you want people to reach out to you? Ask them!
If you want to influence behavior, you need to have a clear call to action. Most of Pentatonix's early videos ended with the group members talking directly to the viewer. They'd share news items, thank the fans for their support, and then, most importantly, bass Avi Kaplan would close out the clip by saying, "Don't forget to subscribe."
At the same time, remember that you need to...
5. Earn Attention, Not Just Revenue
Until they partnered with the crowd-funding platform Patreon to help finance their increasingly elaborate videos, Pentatonix wasn't really in the business of asking fans to spend money. They mostly wanted your attention in the form of YouTube subscriptions, Facebook likes, and Twitter follows. (In fact, you'll probably never be able to pay for two of their biggest viral hits. Their "Evolution of Music" and "Evolution of Beyoncé" medleys contain so many songs that the publishing rights required to record and sell the songs would be prohibitively high, so they're only available for free on YouTube.)
If you can truly earn people's attention, that attention will eventually create revenue. For Pentatonix, their social media success has translated into a sold out concerts, the fourth best selling album of 2014, a cameo in Pitch Perfect 2, and a Grammy Award.