Plagiarism is not a good look for any business.

But when it comes to digital marketing, it’s more than ok to see what the most successful businesses are doing… and benchmark their techniques.

Don’t feel guilty about that.

In fact, you should feel guilty if you’re NOT doing that.

One of the best shortcuts to improve your online marketing is to take inspiration from the techniques of businesses who are smashing it out of the park.

Innocent, the fruit smoothie company, is a good example.

They sell over 2 million smoothies per week. Okay, so they might now be owned by Coca Cola, but their success is down to the way they behave online… not like a corporation, but like a quirky, funny individual.

Let’s take a look at what they’re doing – and see what inspiration you can take from them.

WEBSITE: As you’d expect, Innocent have a website where they share free content on an updated blog.

This isn’t just a load of dry information about smoothie manufacture, or a load of sales guff and special offers. They offer information of value to their ideal, health-conscious reader’s life. This includes fun tips about a healthier, more active, happy lifestyle – plus humour and jokes that match their jovial packaging.

Here you can see their ‘daily thoughts’…

What can you diarise from your life or work? What can you share that’s fun, personal and entertaining for a visitor?

TWITTER: Using Twitter, Innocent share their latest blog posts, as well other exclusive ‘Twitter-only’ thoughts, stories, jokes, ideas, photos and useful links.

Thanks to this they have 261,000 followers. Remember that every time one of those followers retweets an Innocent post, it goes to all their followers, so the spread of people Innocent reaches on Twitter goes way beyond that.

What news items, joke, wisdom or insights could you share with you customer that are NOT directly related to your products, but will make you seem more personable and human in their eyes?

Share something like this on Twitter once every day, as well as your usual blog posts, industry news or other more expected items.

FACEBOOK: On Facebook, Innocent have over 568,000 page ‘likes’ which means that they appear, or have appeared, on 568,000 people’s Facebook feeds, where all of their friends, family and colleagues will have seen it. So you’re easily looking at a reach of millions.

But Innocent don’t endlessly repeat product promotions. They attract an audience by acting like a friend on Facebook – sharing jokes and photos.

Here’s an example of a recent post.

See how they use humour? But also look at their Black Friday offer…

Rather than promoting Black Friday, they go the other way and say that they’re not bothered about this hugely stressful shopping day.

In doing this, they’re re-emphasising their brand, which is irreverent, fun and about enjoying a healthy, stress-free life.

It doesn’t seem like an advert, but who knows how many of their Facebook fans ended up buying an Innocent drink while out shopping that day?

Can you think of a theme or idea that will resonate with your customers and show your ideals, beliefs and values?

INSTAGRAM: Innocent share funny, heart-warming pictures on Instagram, a forum where people can post photos and also follow other accounts. Here they have 69,600 followers.

As you can see below, they’re taking quirky pictures of their product in different locations. It’s actually really strong advertising, but their followers will see it as fun and entertaining.

Do you have a product that lends itself to photographs?

It could be food, drink, toys, clothes, art, furniture, jewellery. Or can your business be expressed with visuals, for instance landscape scenes, famous people, cartoons charts and graphs?

If so, consider posting them on Instagram to build a following.

Some tips:

– Buy a good camera for product shots and backgrounds that won’t compete with your product. Simple white backgrounds – or rustic, wooden surfaces, or green (garden) backgrounds – can look great in soft focus. If you can afford it, invest in a photographer for professional product photos so you look as good as the big players.

– Beneath the photo use lots of #hashtags that sum up the keywords relating to the photo. These help people find you on Instagram.

– Try and get customers to send in photos of themselves using the products or holding the product. It helps create a sense of community.

– Mix in photographs that aren’t related to your product, but that relate to the themes of your blog.

LINKEDIN: Innocent are also on LinkedIn, a social network for professionals and job-seekers, where they have a more business-to-business presence to enhance their credibility.

Could you use some valuable new business connections? Is there industry news to consume and share? If so, sign up to LinkedIn and begin to post weekly updates on what’s happening in your business. This will give you industry credibility.

NEWSLETTER: Finally, Innocent package their best information into an email newsletter that offers ‘love and friendship’ (as opposed to ‘special offers and deals’). For information on using newsletters for free content, please see the February and March issues of Digital Upstart.

Summary: How to use the Innocent Formula to retain happy, loyal customers

• Rather than filling the internet with sales pitches, they treat their customers as human beings – offering information, news and entertainment. This gives them a strong brand loyalty.

• When they post their content (including pictures, recipes, jokes and health tips) it gets shared willingly by their followers, bringing even more people on-board and creating a free form of word-of-mouth advertising.

• All of the content that appears on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn helps push traffic to their blog, helping build their email list, make online sales and forge business connections.

I’d recommend you go and look at their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn pages and be inspired by their posts for your content marketing.

I hope you found this useful. Please feel free to join the conversation in the comments section below.