Every movement begins with a moment.
Building a content machine in 2015 will be like consecutively threading a thousand needles while the sun — and your sweat — is in your eyes. And all the content in the world counts for nothing if your content strategy is a little bit fluffy at the beginning.
The truth is: Approximately 70% of brands do not have a content strategy. That means the companies who have tested the content waters and invested ahead of the curve are likely to come out way ahead in 2015. But if you haven’t already started, the question is: Where do you begin?
Stories for people, not products
Advertising folk love to talk a big game. But more often than not, many continue to do what they’ve always done — hawk products and ascribe to the 30-second wow factor. Unfortunately it’s 2015, and the marketplace is populated with uber-savvy consumers who can research your story in seconds — and poke holes in it. (Just take a look at the parody video that debunked the Chipotle Scarecrow video in 2014.)
Humanity and authenticity will always reign supreme. So content must start with and finish with people. And in order for brands to be effective storytellers, a meaningful and relatable experience needs to be strategically crafted around the promise or opportunity. When done effectively, this overarching story becomes the driver for consumer engagement and the source material for additional story-based content — campaigns, videos, contests, experiences, etc. — that can foster brand affinity, drive activity across the digital landscape and create engagement in the real world.
The revolution of the marketing feed is also as good of a spot as any to begin. In 2013, the feed truly changed the way consumers consumed content. And in the coming years, it’ll continue to evolve and enable us to produce in-feed advertising that targets life’s true moments. (Remember, it’s about people not products.)
Alternatively, think of it this way: As humans, we are natural voyeurs of other people’s lives. Why else would shows like “The Real Housewives,” “The Bachelor” and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” exist season after season? That’s why, when we sell benefits over the features, the ROI tends to be significantly stronger.
The feed dominates online content consumption — from the news we read on mobile devices to the social networks we check constantly. In fact, in a meeting with Facebook at this year’s CES, the social networking machine mentioned that the average American checks his or her account 15 times a day. Meanwhile, Twitter has topped 200 million users worldwide. Staggering numbers indeed — and that doesn’t even include the growing love for Pinterest, Redit, Snapchat and Google+.
What this means is that you can now cleverly blend your brand into consumers’ lives with real-time content — significantly harder to do when preaching from the pedestal of a 30-second TV spot.
Content is advertising. And there is no shortage of content. There is, however, a shortage of real-time content.
Good content strategy, and thus good content, understands the target audience’s thoughts and desires and delivers the best content to them via the right channel for the right return. Simple enough. But generally speaking, content has a short-lived lifespan: minutes, days or weeks.
And this is where partners can help. It’s virtually impossible for your agencies to build 100% of your content. In 2015, we will see a further blurring of lines between media and content creation and, thus, the ability to form partnerships is critical. AOL, for example, has done a tremendous job of delivering a wealth of resources and top talent to the forefront. Its growth — and growth in its share prices — is strong evidence of the growing need for these relationships. See on.aol.com for the content and branded content AOL builds.
Turning the ship
2015 is not going to be easy for a lot of people. And for agencies struggling with the always-on approach, it’s going to be painful. They have to move quickly toward business-change consulting, innovation (including the development of branded digital services), brand development and myriad production capabilities (both large and small).
Clients, too, will face changes. The need to rethink structure and speed is critical. What’s hot one minute won’t be hot the next, and if, say, legal is a roadblock, then opportunities will be missed. And how does one get branded content quickly through a system built on the backbone of television and print?
So while it’ll be a tough year, it’ll be a hell of a lot of fun.
Anthony Reeves is the Chief Creative Officer at Moxie. He leads the Creative, User Experience, Content Development and Future Experiences teams across all North American offices. Before digital and content, his experience included creating hundreds of television, radio and print campaigns across Asia-Pacific and the U.S.
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