Knowledge is power. Someone famous said that once presumably. And it’s as true now as it was back whenever that particular person probably said it.

Knowledge also, if ’80s action flicks are anything to go by, gets you waterboarded.

By Chuck Norris.

But dangers of action-star torture put to one side, in a marketing sense, imparting knowledge to your audience through branded content is a brilliant way to go about your next campaign.

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Educating the masses on subjects in your organisation’s field can afford you a level of respect from the public that will never come from a cheeky viral video or punny hashtag campaign (#lYESMAMM). It’s the old professor/student dynamic – “ooh, look at that important, scholarly, badly dressed man speaking self-assuredly about astrophysics. He knows what’s up.”

Gaining trust and respect in the current marketing climate is not a common nor an easy thing to do. The reason is that it requires more resources – money, time and others – than an entertainment based strategy does. You have to do the research, you have to fact check that research, you may even have to run the research past legal eyes to check that your advice isn’t going to end in a GDP-of-Ghana sized lawsuit. The road less travelled can be challenging.

But it can be done. And inspiration as to how can be found in a few places.

Whole Story, the blog belonging to the whitest, most middle class supermarket America has to offer, Whole Foods, is testament to what can be achieved with savvy educational content.

Their business is almost custom made to preach to its audience. Their customers go to them under the impression that they are the guiding light to healthy eating in a country long soaked in the fatty oils of the fast food industry.

As such, when Whole Foods speaks, people (white, middle class) listen.

From posts on basic healthy eating tips and food safety standards, to a whole range of articles regarding the company’s mission and values, the database is as comprehensive as even the most vegan, GMO free, gluten avoidant, salt intolerant, no-seafood-pescetarian could possibly need.

Whole Foods customers are not only a receptive audience, but they are also very inclined to share their knowledge with others. Whole Foods fosters this habit with a whole mess of shareable content that links back to their blog, bringing more and more members to the green army.

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On the other end of the scale, and probably not one’s first thought for an archetypal educational content example, is the after-hours grownup’s fun website, Pornhub.

“Never heard of it,” I hear the lads say. Me neither.

Pornhub sits on an absolute goldmine of raw data. The world’s viewing habits for adult entertainment sit within the recesses of their servers. So in 2012, as part of an end-of-year roundup, they displayed some of the choice cuts from their database.

And people loved it.

Now a webpage that gets 300,000 visitors a month, the entirely safe for work Pornhub Insights has been a huge part of making Pornhub the most popular adult site on the internet. The regular posts cover a huge range of topics, from country-to-country preference comparisons to the discussion of the changing of beauty ideals. It’s hard not to click on every article.

Pornhub now teams up with a range of online publications – Mashable, Mic. and Gizmodo, just to name a few – to produce content that is interesting, shareable, and about as good and clean an advertisement for a porn site as one could hope for.

Obviously, educational content marketing isn’t a tack that everyone can take. It’s hard to imagine a tape-measure manufacturer coming out with a stunning piece of educational videography about measuring the height of a wall. But for many companies, it’s not just a viable option, it’s by far and away the most effective.

Sir Francis Bacon. It was that lawn bowling, philosophical public disgrace Bacon who said, “knowledge is power.”

Boy, I would’ve been tossing and turning all night.