Image courtesy of imagethink.net
The star of this year’s SXSW Interactive was neither app nor gadget. Sure, the event had its fair share of new services and trendy wearables, but 2014′s real hero was content. Even on panels where topics ranged from data to devices, content managed to steal the stage, with much of the conversation focusing on the role marketers play in the processes of creation and distribution.
Whether it bore the label “storytelling” or “native advertising,” the goal of content marketing was never under dispute: it’s all about engagement. Brands want to create content that’s sticky and fosters a sense of love and loyalty; consumers, on the other hand, are looking for anything that brings utility and value into their lives. It’s a tension that few brands have been able to resolve.
According to Shane Snow, co-founder of Contently, the days of self-centered branded content are over: “they’re ads, and ads don’t work in a world ruled by the Social Media-empowered masses.” No surprise there: it’s always been the relationship that matters. The quality of a brand’s content will determine the degree to which consumers and influencers invest, whether they will care or share. And all of that leads to – you guessed it! – engagement.
The role audiences play in distributing content was among the many topics covered during a Q&A between “House of Cards” producer Dana Brunetti and entrepreneur Randi Zuckerberg. Extolling the “power of the Social Graph,” the pair discussed a device-agnostic future where streaming content would live and thrive, where actors and actresses with “massive Social Media followings” would be sought and hired.
It’s a paradigm that worked well for Netflix, but can it be applied to channels where influencers and brand coexist?
Only time will tell.
Image Courtesy of Social Media Week
Recently staffers from the Digital Leadership Team attended sessions at the Social Media Week in New York City. One of the sessions, 5 Ways Millennials’ Habits are Changing: How Content is Made and Shared, was a panel discussion with Megan Berry from RebelMouse, Markham Nolan from Vocativ, Adam Ostrow from Mashable, Rich Antoniello from Complex Media, Chris Altcheck from PolicyMic and Samantha Skey from SheKnows. It drove some interesting discussions and we’d love to share our top takeaways.
Official Hashtag: #SMWMillennials
1) Ditch ads and think branded content
Millennials are used to being bombarded by new content and they’ve gotten really good at ignoring ads. They don’t click them and they don’t remember them. The solve? Try branded content – it appears in-stream, which is critical, and it can work just as well on desktop as it does on mobile. Just make sure that consumers know the content is branded (or sponsored) and keep it authentic.
2) Non-traditional sources and new news
One of the misconceptions brought up during the panel was that Millennials don’t care about traditional news sources. The truth is that they do — they just don’t turn to traditional media as a primary source because they want news before it reaches mainstream media. They’ve adopted social network streams as their main news source.
3) Know your platforms and choose your battle
Millennials are native experts on every social platform and they’ve been conditioned to expect a wealth of options online. They adapt quickly, which means brands need to be nimble. Since the barrier to entry is so low in social it’s harder to stay on top. While you shouldn’t be on every platform, don’t depend on just one either, or your business would suffer if it went away. Be willing to reinvent yourself.
4) Know how to package content
When producing content, always keep in mind the device the content will be viewed on and what the user experience is. The type of media people consume on the go via mobile can be quite different from what they would at home on a desktop. Think of mobile as “lean in” and desktop and “lean back.” For example, watching video on a mobile is not the best user experience, so unless the content is super timely content, many prefer to watch on a desktop. Also, be mindful when pushing consumers to apps, as this barrier might interrupt their experience and turn them off.
Image Courtesy of Social Media Week
At the recent NYC Social Media Week conference, I was lucky enough to land a seat in one of the most popular sessions of the week, a keynote speech and discussion by the CEOs of Upworthy, a site dedicated to bringing to light issues and topics that matter. In 2013, more than 286 million unique visitors visited Upworthy. The socially conscious site has shed light on global problems, curating content from across the Internet and delivering it in a streamlined, user-friendly site. They have inspired a community to both care about and act to solve these problems.
Getting people to care and act is no easy feat and there is much we can learn from Co-CEOs Eli Pariser and Peter Koechly of Upworthy on how brands can drive meaningful conversation. “It’s simple,” Pariser maintains, somewhat tongue in cheek. “It only takes 5 steps.”
1. What’s Trending Isn’t Always What’s Important: Brands trying to push through the clutter to reach fans should use caution when jumping on trends that aren’t necessarily important to their readership. Instead, stick with trends that are aligned to your mission.
2. Metrics for Success: Upworthy boasts more than 5 million attention minutes per day. If you’re more comfortable with clicks, page views, and unique views, Pariser suggests you reconsider your metrics. Brands often focus on getting eyeballs on a page, but it’s more important to hold attention once they’re there.
3. Get Out Your Checklist: Pariser shared that in a study, only four percent of a million-person sample had read 10 substantial news articles over three months. That number isn’t necessarily shocking. Think about it. Often news is presented in such a displeasing way it’s easier to turn off the TV, close the newspaper, exit out of the browser and ignore it all. The antidote according to Pariser? Make sure your content is compelling, hopeful, emotional, and important. Everything needs to have an energy, Koechly adds, and while content can incite anger or passion it can not be dispirited, directionless, or confusing, or a brand risks consumers turning away.
4. Data Support What Creativity Drives: Once you’ve garnered attention, the next steps are gathering data and moving forward with a creative strategy that continues the momentum. The heart of everything is editorial judgment and creativity, Koechly stresses, but a brand needs data to effectively guide that creative intuition.
5. Don’t Simply Look, Ask: Finally, don’t overlook your audience as a resource. Pariser announced that in 2014 he wants his Upworthy community to have more of a voice in directing the editorial calendar for the site. Brands should follow suit, by asking consumers what they would like to see and subsequently giving them more of what they want to help ensure a stronger, more meaningful relationship between the brand and the consumer.
Upworthy’s meteoric rise reflects a changing tide in social media where the headline, “Girls Don’t Run the World. But They Should” is just as captivating and matters just as much to consumers as “What Downton Abbey character are you?” Brands that follow Upworthy’s strategy will be well-suited for the changing landscape of social media, hopefully achieving Upworthy’s goals of inspiring consumers not just to care but to act.
Image Courtesy of Google
We’re in the home stretch towards the weekend, but already this week we’ve seen some rockstar campaigns from some of our favorite brands. Need some inspiration? Check them out below and sound off in the comments about what inspires you!
The ever-iconic Coca-Cola makes our list once again: yesterday, the multinational brand took to YouTube to advertise their newest non-beverage product, the Social Media Guard. Based on the insight that “the world spends 4 million years online every month,” Coke has created a device that’s designed to cure “Social Media addiction” by keeping users from checking their phones every eight seconds. It’s basically a pet cone – no joke! – and part of a Social stunt that’s clearly meant to elicit a laugh. Will it bump up their dismal earnings or even sell soda? Who knows… more here.
With their latest content experiment, Chipotle continues to take non-traditional advertising to a whole new level. Farmed and Dangerous – a four-episode comedy series in the vein of the brand’s Back to the Start (2011) and The Scarecrow (2013) – presents a controversial narrative that pits industrial farming practices against small-scale progressive growers. Described by some as “propaganda” or even “satirical,” the series’ first installment barely mentions the brand, and that’s okay, says creator/producer, Piro. They’re far more interested in the PR and media that surround their effort and “not simply shoving the product name down your throat.” More here.
Historically speaking, apps that combine activities like shopping, sharing through Social Networks, checking-in and/or contests generally perform well, particularly when millennials are involved. To that end, Victoria’s Secret’s Pink brand has just launched their #PINKSpringBreak scavenger hunt, an effort centered on their Pink Nation app. Through March 8th, the brand will encourage consumers to find four icons (on the brand’s website, in-store and on-campus) that spell out P-I-N-K. One letter will be released each week; the first 100 to scan it will get a “freebie;” others a “sweet surprise.” All who play will be given a shot at the “best vacay ever.” According to the Pink website, Pink Nation boasts 7.4 million advocates; over 3 million have installed the app. More here.
Riding the crest of Pinterest’s growing popularity among retailers, Target is working with three of the platform’s most influential pinners on a campaign that celebrates a new era of tastemakers. Per the agreement, Pinterest super-users Joy Cho (of Oh Joy!; 13.7 million followers), Jan Halvarson (of Poppytalk; 8.3 million followers) and Kate Arends (of Wit & Delight; 2.7 million followers) will each create a series boards that highlight Target’s party-planning collections. It’s a great example of working with online influencers, something we at MMC do so well! More here.
Talk about real-time marketing! Out before the Games even began, American top-ranked skier Heidi Kloser is poised to turn personal tragedy (read: a much-publicized fall) into advertising gold for Liberty Mutual. Inspired by a tweet sent to the insurance company by ad-legend Alex Bogusky, Kloser’s spot is scheduled to air during tonight’s broadcast, a mere 13 days after the horrific accident that fractured her leg and tore her ACL. An example of agility that’s uncharacteristic in the world of advertising, you can read all about it here. My prediction: loads of post-air chatter and an Olympic-sized view count.
Image Courtesy of Venus
Gillette Venus is all about helping women find their “perfect match”: a razor that truly delivers great results for smooth, beautiful skin. This year, Venus is celebrating the exciting launch of two new razors: the Venus Embrace Sensitive and Venus Snap with Embrace. At the official launch event, MMC and Venus hosted media influencers and their “perfect matches” (BFFs, moms and colleagues) to learn about the Venus products best matched to their skin and lifestyle needs. Attendees also participated in activities tailored to their lifestyles, such as indoor rock-climbing, surf set and yoga. The new Venus Embrace Sensitive and Venus Snap with Embrace will be available starting in March. Check out the online buzz with #VenusPerfectMatch.
Check out some of the top social media campaigns generating attention from last week.
H&M’s Super Bowl ad (you remember: the one that asked consumers to vote on whether or not star David Beckham appeared #Covered or #Uncovered) is still getting attention for its clever use of Social Media and a “T-commerce” platform that made the spot “shoppable” for SmartTV owners… (Source: Today).
In related news, brands like Oreo, Heineken’s Newcastle Brown Ale and Nestlé’s DiGiorno Pizza are among those being recognized for their clever newsjacking efforts during the Big Game… (Source: Digiday).
Old Man Winter has truly been tough on the airline industry these past few weeks. In a scramble to provide support to inconvenienced travelers, one company – JetBlue – has received accolades for their transparent use of Social Media… (Source: BrandChannel).
For their tweet that poked fun at Grammy-winner Pharrell Williams’ hat, sandwich chain Arby’s continues to attract buzz. Touted by real-time marketing experts as a “responsive marketing coup de grâce,” their efforts even merited praise from the likes of Pepsi and Hyundai… (Source: Ad Week).
Ajax has just launched an app that “treats your Social Media presence like a dirty counter.” how you ask? By removing unused content and SPAM from your Twitter feeds and Facebook News Feed… (Source: Fast Company).
If riding shotgun in the Weinermobile is on your #BucketList, you might want to check out Oscar Mayer’s latest Twitter campaign. All who tweet using the hashtag #Tweet2Lease have a shot at that “Grand Prize”… (Source: Ad Age).
Do you remember when Facebook was called TheFacebook? The platform celebrates its 10th year anniversary this February.
It’s had a bumpy ride but continues to dominate the social media space despite competition from other social and messaging apps such as WhatsApp and SnapChat.
“With 1.23 billion active monthly users as of December 31st, and recent revenues highlighting growth, [Facebook] looks set to continue its dominance for some time yet,” says The Drum. And it remains a critical destination for social marketing.