Sunday saw Felix Baumgartner pass the speed of sound as he broke a 52-year-old record for the highest recorded parachute jump.

While the act in itself was highly impressive, of interest to marketers was the way Red Bull achieved major exposure for its brand through this feat, making the headlines internationally and having eight million people watch the jump live. 

The jump was not simply good PR, but something more. It was great content marketing, something that will become increasingly important, according to the recent Econsultancy/Outbrain Content Marketing Survey Report.

Here are some lessons we can take away from the jump.

Develop a story

Creating a hook that will engage an audience is an important part of content marketing. What is the story? Why is this significant?

The Red Bull team decided to use multiple hooks for the jump, all of which were dramatic and engaged the imagination.

These included presenting the jump as “death defying”, stating its importance to science, involving the surviving record holder Joe Kittinger as a mentor to Baumgartner, speculating on the effects of breaking the sound barrier on Baumgartner’s body, and many more.

What they were doing is looking for all possible angles through which the public’s imagination could be captured.

While most marketers will never be so lucky to have such a story to build on, there are many brands that look to build on their heritage and craft a story which can capture the imagination of the public.

Facebook’s Timeline feature is a great method through which brands can craft a narrative and present it to the public for consumption.

Capture as much content as possible

As the details of the capsule will show, one of the key considerations was to capture as much video footage as possible to assist in further content promotion.

According to the Red Bull Stratos site, the capsule itself contained nine HD cameras, three digital cinematography cameras, and a further three digital still cameras. Baumgartner wore three HD cameras, while on the ground even more video technology was deployed.

Such a huge amount of footage will mean that there will be plenty of content to build on.

The cameras used for the jump:

The average brand doesn’t need to go to such lengths. Rather, opportunities to capture content on a regular basis should be explored.

Can team reports contain insights worth sharing on a blog post? Are photos that employees share on Twitter worth collecting and turning into an interesting slideshow or piece of marketing collateral? Has a client had success in a way that could be shared with the wider digital marketing community?

All of these provide opportunities to promote content.

Provide content worth sharing – and introduce your audience to something new

Red Bull went further than simply integrating social buttons into their site. They provided great content which could be shared and used, both by individuals through social media and for the press.

Its social pages contain many high-quality images and video clips through which they can engage their audience.

Interestingly, the social pages are not entirely dominated by the jump. There’s images of Korean rapper Psy of Gangnam Style fame on their Facebook page.

The wallpaper for Red Bull’s Twitter account shows their other activities in F1 and other sports, and the Google+ account embeds video of bike stunts. This isn’t hidden way back in posts from months ago; rather it is mixed in with content relating to Baumgartner’s feat.

I suspect this is a deliberate attempt to introduce its audience to the other forms of sponsorship Red Bull has in place. There are only so many times someone will share a photo or clip of Baumgartner on their Timeline, but providing something different can lead to continued engagement.

Get contact details for further communicatons

Red Bull has its own dedicated site for the press to use to gain photos, video, and fact sheets that make it really easy for journalists to put together stories.

Intriguingly, downloading certain material requires registration. In normal circumstances, this would be detrimental to a brand, but as the jump was so newsworthy, Red Bull has obviously built a formidable database of contacts for future stories.

Marketers should think of how they can provide enough value to gain opt-in for further communications. Whether this is additional content in return for a Facebook like, or offering a great whitepaper in return for an email, going the extra mile with content can provide an incentive for your customers to give you permission to engage with them.

Spin-out content into the future

The Red Bull jump will provide huge swathes of material for future content marketing, while the earned media impact will undoubtedly increase the effectiveness and reach of any future campaigns and promotions. There’s talk of a full-length documentary being created, while anything Baumgartner does will undoubtedly be more closely followed by the media.

One of the mnemonics used within content marketing is COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere. While this suggests content should be pushed out on multiple platforms, it also means that content which might not be valuable to one audience in its current form (such as a dense, boring shareholder report) can be spun out into another (such as multiple blog posts about how the company is doing).

Great content takes a good deal of effort to create, and efficiencies should be explored to make it easier.

What’s your content marketing story?

Have you got any tips for great content marketing? What do you think Red Bull or other brands do particularly well? Are there any further lessons to be learned?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.