Is content just a new label for sponsored story telling or something far more sophisticated and commercially accountable?
Brands are either fully engaged with the content revolution or at the very least actively looking for opportunities to jump on the bandwagon. However, like anything "new" there is already a wide spectrum of good, bad and downright ugly work being sold and produced. The purpose of this post is not to name, shame and congratulate, but more an attempt to demystify the "c-word" with a dose of common sense.
Content doesn't have the pushy personality of traditional advertising. People have to be compelled to consume it actively. There has to be a good reason for them to spend more than 30secs of their valuable time with your brand. Arguably the best story telling ads from the past compelled the viewer to do the same, so what's changed?
There are clearly many more accessible places to tell a story these days, "a fragmented media landscape" - as those in the expensive shiny suits might tell us. Cut through the buzz words and this really is a big opportunity for brands of all shapes and budgets.
For stories with stand-out
- Think about a long-term content platform aka an idea that can grow and develop, plus stick to areas where you have heritage and interesting properties.
- Look to enhance the experience by allowing the audience to influence and contribute.
- Keep it simple and tell your story in a way that has emotion and an implicit brand connection.
- If you are integrating your brand story within something that fulfills a consumer need, they will happily engage, share and give it a life of its own.
- Test and learn. Curate content in real time as much as possible and make a pilot to mitigate your risks.
- Act like a publisher and make sure you have the skills around you to carry it off, including some solid socially savvy PR resource.
- There is no shortage of content. The nightmare is navigating it, so make it as easy as possible to find. Use your owned media to fuel this process.
- Be prepared to spend inline with your audience and your ambitions in terms of reach. Yes, it's possible to create a low-fi indie masterpiece for a luxury brand, but you'll still have to spend on some great production and directing talent.
The definition of great content is if you stop consuming, it leaves a hole. Therefore it's as simple as great stories well told then? Well, yes, but like all the most successful blockbusters it takes more than just a talented lead actor, maverick director or Oscar-winning screenwriter to make it.