Probably the hottest topic since the dawn of social media, content marketing is almost an industry in itself, with some predicting it will represent $300b by 2019. Brands have had to learn fast – with content accounting for 32% of total marketing budgets (Content Marketing Institute, 2016). Despite all this attention and growth, there’s still a huge amount for brands to learn and adjust to.
Firstly, the way we are consuming content is changing, and our unquenchable thirst for video is making waves. By 2017, Cisco predict it will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, and top content distributors (think Vice, Buzzfeed) will need to react. I’m all for a good listicle, but I reckon audiences will increasingly reject content that isn’t more engaging.
Consumers are quickly gaining greater control of the brand messages they want to engage with. Requiring instant gratification, our short attention spans and an easily accessible ‘skip’ button leave brands at the mercy of our preference. Brands must react accordingly with their creation of content. An old colleague regularly spoke about applying a ‘Give, give, then take’, philosophy to content which I quite like. Others talk about the need for brand ‘storytelling’, which to me is a fancy way of saying ‘doing cool things to make us like the brand’. However you look it, there are some key content principles brands should follow to help achieve the differentiation they crave.
Increase efforts to understand the audiences more and do it regularly. Stop seeing them as demographics and actually build out research for a more humanized approach. If consumers engage with content on their terms, what are those terms – short, snappy, video? If it’s a football brand, consider what would footie fans find fun to watch/learn about? Red Bull do this expertly with all manner of extreme sports, but the thought process can be applied to even the most generic of branded products (see www.willitblend.com). The danger of course, is moving too far away from the communication objective in pursuit of amazing content, so there’s got to be a defined strategy first that bridges the content and the brand.
Don’t forget that audiences are complex and multi-faceted; for example on Instagram they might be different to that of YouTube, so ensure the content is platform specific. Gone are the days of replicating content across every channel; it’s lazy and won’t fly with fans anymore.
Ideally content will be high quality, little and often, though it’s not always achievable. Whilst some of the big players have the might of a full production/media house (Marriot recently declared “We’re a media company now”), most have to focus their efforts. Perhaps less frequent, thoughtful & valuable content does allow for greater creativity. But not all brands need to go into space – creativity can be applied to all budgets. An example I love is Glenfiddich whisky’s recent collaboration with creative technologists, wherein they apply the science of Cymatics (soundwaves affecting liquid) to dramatize the effect the Caribbean has on their whisky. What made this so successful was connecting a product ‘truth’ with a totally unique approach.
For me, if content isn’t creative, then brands should be brave enough to pull it. “I love that brand, I just wish they had more content” said no one. Ever.
Embrace content as a culture
Probably the hardest of all is to truly embrace the culture of content. Collective buy-in is a must and the fostering of a pro-content infrastructure (e.g. new department/jobs) can take time but is essential to adjust to the demands of modern audiences.
It’s an exciting time for brands; one in which to take risks, discover and communicate what they’re all about.08.01.16 Archive