The thought that social media will allow a brand to directly build a relationship with customers made many marketers queue up for ‘branded content’. The investments in the space grew and with that, the ecosystem of digital creative specialists and technologists also grew.
The thought that social media will allow a brand to directly build a relationship with customers made many marketers queue up for ‘branded content’. The investments in the space grew and with that, the ecosystem of digital creative specialists and technologists also grew. But the fact remains that few brands have generated genuine consumer interest and successfully built their brands using content as a route.
When it comes to content, many marketers’ instinct is to copy what has already been proven to work. But the content space is bursting at its seams and the real winners are the ones who stay ahead of the curve, anticipate what is next and ride the crest. The courage to avoid me-too strategies is the key. Take influencer marketing as an example; it exploded as a strategy in the past couple of years with brands jumping on the bandwagon to use the social footprint of influencers to reach out. But the fact remains that on Twitter, the average number of shares per piece has plummeted. A direct reflection on the glut of content without a streak of originality being used with influencers is resulting in diminishing returns. The pace of change and dynamics of engaging with consumers are changing rapidly. Through it all, some exciting trends are emerging which I believe will result in the evolution of the content marketing space:
Culturally relevant original content
Today, it is possible to find flourishing communities around any topic on social media: budget travelling, home gardening, Japanese food, green tea lover, etc. To permeate these communities, we need to understand them and the content we serve needs to be attuned to their beliefs. Building content that is culturally relevant will be the cornerstone of what would resonate with consumers.
New technology allows audiences to opt-out of traditional ways of consuming. Advertising is no longer the Holy Grail of engaging with consumers and this is creating seismic shifts in the way the business of advertising works. Many brands and organisations are now investing in branded entertainment. Brands and organisations like Red Bull, Mondelez and Pepsi have invested in internal content studios to build content and intellectual properties that enable them to make money from selling distribution rights. Mondelez, for instance, did a Stride Gum branded sky-diving live event titled Heaven Sent which then got distributed worldwide across the Fox platform — an excellent example of monetising branded content. I see this as an exciting time for content strategists. They have the wherewithal to build audiences directly and make a significant impact on an organisation and its business model. To achieve this, one needs to be deep into the game and still nimble on their feet.
The author is country head, The Story Lab India, Dentsu Aegis Network