As digital content takes on different shapes and formats to create impact, it is time to look inwards and create new mutant formats
If digital is the universe then ‘content’ is the new mutant! By definition, a mutant is a being (usually, otherwise human) who possesses a genetic trait called an X-gene that allows it to naturally develop superhuman powers and abilities. In short, that’s how content can be viewed today — a mutated form between what has been and can be; a progeny at the next stage of evolution! Feared and intrigued by other mediums because they are different, digital content is a heroic mutant, evolving with special powers that are redefining the content landscape.
Let’s understand the mutant qualities:
You can’t cage the ‘Wolverine’
What has emerged in the last few years is a phenomenon which is parallel to TV. Digital is more personal and enjoyed in a silo. Hence the content and characters that cut across have a different flavour. So what we have now are new superheroes in content, ruling the digital medium. Fiction or non-fiction, we already have a plethora of superheroes or villains. So let’s try and understand how this mutant behaves.
Possesses the ‘Nightcrawler’ teleporting ability
Finish household chores by 7:55pm because favourite soap begins at 8pm? Set the table at 8:10pm when the first break comes in? Finish dinner before the second serial begins at 9pm? No more; this is more of anytime and every time. The concept of primetime now largely applies only to sports and live events. For everything else it’s: ‘I will watch it when I want and where I want’. Breakfast, commute, work, lunch or bedtime is the new primetime! Content mutant follows you where you want it to be!
‘Mystique’ shapeshifter who can change appearances
In the good old days, brands just had two options — either pure play 30-second ads or in-your-face product placement. It’s a different story today. Great examples of content today include long ads or short format content. These stories are media-agnostic, which are told in two minute humour, five minute drama, five minute music videos and 15 minutes’ series to even bite-sized content (Twitter) and in pictures. Content can take either of the forms or all of it together through audio, video, text and pictures. Are we talking about 5-15 minute ads or is this a new era in storytelling?
‘The Storm’: from airing to sharing
Organic growth, an unheard phenomenon in the ‘90s, is now a reality! Social media coupled with great content grows exponentially without any or miniscule distribution budgets. Hours of videos are uploaded on YouTube and Facebook every minute garnering millions of views at the same time. The story on text and photos is no different across other platforms.
Speaking versus listening: measure what you see
Content now is a two-way street — I talk and I listen as well. What the content connoisseur thinks matters a lot. How is she reacting? Reach has changed to engagement and is no longer about views. Remember the reach metrics — ‘x’ number of people have seen my programme? Remember the old saas-bahu days when the discussions centered on its high reach, rating and always negative word-of-mouth wondering who watches them? Well, it matters now. Metrics have moved from reach to engagement (share, like, positive sentiment, etc) — 15 million views don’t matter; a higher percentage of dislikes and negative word-of-mouth can make the content spiral downwards.
With distribution and stars no longer a barrier to defining great content, creativity and production now have many faces (read sub-genres). Old niche is the new mass. Science, tech, food and fashion enjoy immense popularity with a huge subscriber base as does Bollywood. But it is just not enough to have fashion divas walking the ramp — quick tips (read DIY), articles (blogs) and sketches create impact.
If women are looking for inspirational videos and are conscious about body image and traction for short format, it makes for a new content recipe.
Fast, agile and adaptive like ‘Quicksilver’
Everyone needs a hero or two, but the hero content is not defined by what it does when you have planned it, but more by the transformation for the unplanned. Not reactive but adaptive is the new word. Being prepared for the unexpected holds the key to long term engagement.
Is this mutant an evolution or the revolution? Take a guess…
The author, Devendra Deshpande is head, Content Plus, Mindshare