If you are on social media, you are most likely engaging in content marketing and you don’t even know it. Often times I will email a friend a helpful how-to blog post or link to a funny video on a friend’s Facebook wall without realizing that I am participating in and perpetuating content marketing. That’s the brilliance behind content marketing – brands are creating valuable articles and videos that I want to share, even though it’s actually an advertisement. I’ve realized that content marketing is the only advertisement anyone ever shares and reads enjoyably.

The Content Marketing Institute explains that content marketing is, “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, engage and clearly define and understand target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Almost every type of business is using content marketing, companies like Oreos, Red Bull, Charmin Toilet Paper and even Estee Lauder. The secret to a successful content marketing strategy is simple – create value.

Take Estee Lauder for example, as they are one of the many cosmetic companies that has honed in on the content marketing power of blogs. In 2012, Estee Lauder appointed influential blogger, Emily Schuman, as their social media and digital guest editor. Emily Schuman is the brain behind the successful Cupcakes and Cashmere blog. As explained in Schuman’s blog name, her blog mostly deals with food, fashion and makeup, which makes Estee Lauder a relevant affiliated partner. Schuman has cultivated 127,484 Instagram followers, 78,000 Twitter followers, and her website gets about 120,000 hits daily. Schuman’s audience is made up of women ages 18-44, and as a dedicated fan of her site, I am one of those women. I, along with the rest of her one hundred and twenty thousand followers, trust her opinion and feel as if I can relate to her.

Estee Lauder realized the strong relationship Schuman’s built with her followers and saw it as an opportunity to merge their brand with Schuman’s young audience and build their online presence. Estee Lauder integrated Schuman into their franchise by giving her products for free and having her review their latest products on her blog. In Schuman’s blog posts for Estee Lauder, she remains consistent with her feminine writing style, and explains to her viewers why she is ‘obsessed’ with an Estee Lauder product. This consistency conveys a sense of authenticity and true appreciation of the product to the audience. Schuman also uploads videos on her blog in collaboration with Estee Lauder, where she answers reader’s beauty questions. This blog is engaging, informative and relevant to the audience, but it also allows the audience to put a friendly face and voice to the Cupcakes and Cashmere blog.

Schuman stated, “When I initially thought of Estee Lauder, I thought it skewed a little older. I had known the brand because both my mom and grandma had been using it for years. As soon as I started using the products, my perception shifted.” This was the same case for myself. Before Schuman started blogging about Estee Lauder’s products, I would always pass the Estee Lauder counter at Nordstrom, because I always associated Estee Lauder with an older generation. But, after reading Schuman rave about their products on her site, I now stop at the Estee Lauder counters instead of breezing past them. If “good content marketing makes a person stop…..read….think….behave…differently,” than Estee Lauder is doing it right, and other companies should follow suit.