Digital content creators – YouTube comedians, programming instructors, artists, musicians, UX designers, authors, bloggers, and everyone in between are inherently marketers, whether they know it or not.
Some are genuinely fascinated and passionate about what they create, while others have mixed motives and business goals. To be sustainable, all creators must grow to a point of profitability. Reaching this point is closely tied with finding a unique selling point – providing something absolutely unique, beneficial, and/or captivating.
In attempts to be unique, many creators think they’ve deviated from the “norm” but in reality, have only taken baby steps. My blog is testament to that fact, even though I don’t view it is a business, every change that’s made has only been a baby step. Oddly enough, being in the social media marketing industry and writing about this topic in particular is very meta. We’re constantly surrounded by content while our goals are to be the content chefs.
To get a level grasp of the unique ideas, I had to eliminate that social media marketing mindset and just browse around in my personal time. Below are 8 examples of individuals and brands that have captured my attention with something so genuine and creative, my mouse hovered and my eyes stuck like glue.
1. Jim’ll Paint It
Remember Microsoft Paint? I know all you Windows users still rock it from time to time for simple image editing or a funny doodle.
Well, one man has truly mastered that primitive program. His work’s primary outlet is his (NSFW) Facebook page. Not every drawing is NSFW, but many might be a little over the top for some.
There’s no denying that the guy has to be the best Microsoft Paint artist in existence. His tagline: “You name it. I’ll paint it. On Paint.” Jim’s truly original (and hilarious) content has earned him more than 351,000 likes on Facebook.
Simply pulling off digital art at this quality in MS Paint is a feat in its own right. But what makes Jim’s content so unique is that everything is user-generated. Here’s a SFW example of a fan’s request for Tony the Tiger’s funeral:
Literally every idea will be unique because every idea for a drawing derives from the imaginations of Internet strangers, which one can only fathom the depths. From the sick and twisted drug addiction themes, to the utterly hilarious celebrity mutations, some of Jim’s most popular drawings have evolved into a digital store front. Collectively, he’s created a community that has their hands firmly at the wheels of his operation. He is, effectively, the engine.
Who doesn’t like pancakes?
Well, one St. Louis-based artist decided to tap into his love for the popular breakfast food and use them as a canvas. The result? Dancakes.
Dan’s story is certainly an interesting one, and it’s no surprise that the pancake artist has generated national attention for his efforts.
Bringing his pancake creations to a digital format allows Dan to sustain a growing fan-base of pancake and artist enthusiasts alike.
3. Umphrey’s McGee – UM BOWL
In an age where digital music is easier to get than ever before, many bands are trying to figure out ways to generate more and more revenue. Chicago-based Umphrey’s McGee might be a leader in the field. The six-man band hosts annual “UM Bowl” concerts. The four-set shows, structured like a football game, are extremely interactive to the point where fans can vote via text message during the show as to what song or musical theme will be tackled next.
The music itself is the content, sure. But Umphrey’s is changing the way that that content is delivered. Fans have taken notice: the UM Bowls consistently sell out—very quickly.
4. Blendtec, Meet Arnold
The extremely popular video series called ‘Will it Blend?’ takes any item you can think of—from iPads to Kindle Fire to Nexus 7 and everything in between—and see if the product will blend. Spoiler alert: it does. Every single article about “creative content” mentions the Blendtec campaign as if it is some holy grail benchmark. Of course, many content creators have done spin offs – some successful, others just a flop.
However, when Arnold Schwarzenegger takes a stab at a “Will it Blend?” spinoff, the results are….massive. Call in the field repair because this series leaves its “test subject” in absolute demolition.
Arnold crushing stuff in a tank – what more could you ask for? Oh, you actually want to ask him to crush something specific? Go ahead! He’ll probably do it! In case you’re unaware of Arnold’s active presence on reddit, especially in the fitness subreddit (/r/fitness), you should know he’s been absolutely killing it with them – well, not terminator style killing – more of the “community engagement” style killing, if that’s a thing. In addition to the Will it Crush? series, he’s also taken phrase-requests from redditors.
If social media marketers want to stop playing the “general question on Facebook game” and start writing about something new, take a leaf out of Arnold’s reddit marketing tactics.
5. Volvo Does a Split
What in the world has Jean Claude Van Damme been up to for the last decade anyway? Apparently he’s still in impeccable shape. Late last year, to demonstrate the superiority of their precision steering, Volvo released a video that captured JCVD standing on the rearview mirrors of two trucks driving backwards. The trucks gradually drifted apart and the French actor did a complete split while the trucks were still moving. To date, the video has more than 72 million views and counting.
From a branding perspective, we want to know how well the precision steering translates through this advert. When we think of Volvo do we think of this incredible stunt or is the associate lost in translation? I chose this example as a wildcard. What percentage clicks through to open the video description and clicks again to the Volvo Truck page?
Many global brands create super viral videos that are purely entertaining. Young/teenage demographics, that most likely don’t have the money to throw down on a Volvo truck, are the majority consuming these videos and sharing it with their friends.
6. Marques Brownlee
It remains to be seen whether or not Google Glass will be the wave of the future. However, in February 2013, the California-based company released a YouTube video called “How it Feels [through Google Glass]” which basically depicts people doing crazy things while wearing the yet-to-be-released-to-the-masses product.
In this example, innovate gadgets are merely the means to delivering unique content.
Marques Brownlee is a young gadget reviewer and professional Ultimate Frisbee player whose become a famous YouTube over the past few years. His reviews are well researched, high quality, and informative. His video topics are primarily cutting edge gadgets and would rarely cross over into something like cooling towers, but they have touched on Tesla, for example.
But what makes his content sing is less of a creative approach and more of a competitive advantage. By gaining early access and exclusive rights to publish to reviews about gadgets before they becoming mainstream, he becomes a specialty resource for bleeding edge technology.
7 . Internet Explorer
Back in the day, Internet Explorer dominated the browser space. Today, there are a variety of competitors for the once leader in internet browsing. Seeking to reinvent IE, Microsoft released a video targeted to children of the ‘90s that featured a bunch of relics from that decade. You grew up, the company says, and so did our product. To date, the ad has been seen nearly 50 million times on YouTube.
A rich interactive website dubbed “rethinkie” accompanies this branding campaign. In a grand attempt to win back the 90s-kid generation, they have seen mixed success. As a browser, IE11 is actually very fast, clean, and user friendly. The only obstacle – which happens to be a mountain of an obstacle – is that browser extension support is lacking for the most popular plugins like LastPass, Ghostery, Pocket, Adblock, etc. And if IE11 managed to catch up to speed in that realm, they would still lack a major USP compared to Chrome or Firefox. A micro USP, such as a pest control company conceiving poison worms to get rid of moles, is a targeted benefit. If you think about how a product like that solves a finite need, it’s no surprise that when you come up with hundreds of them – essentially all of the chrome and firefox extensions – you instill needs.
Nevertheless, their branding campaign is a sweeping attempt to rekindle a relationship that has long burnt out. Any hearts they can win back is an impressive accomplishment in my book.
I had never heard of WestJet before the most recent holiday season, and I would be willing to wager some cash that you hadn’t either. The airliner surprised 250 guests on a Calgary-bound flight with presents on their wish lists that were delivered to them when they landed. An impressively unique concept. The ad celebrating it boasts more than 35 million views on YouTube.
There’s really no recipe for creating something that is insanely unique and that will appeal to a wide audience. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But the fact of the matter remains that you should always strive to think outside the box and create content that is incredibly different from that of your competitors. Otherwise, you risk disappearing in a sea of unimpressive content.
Have any other examples of extremely unique content? Sound off in the comments below!