Why It Matters by Mary Beth King
In 2013, the digital landscape has seen some of the most creative branded content pieces on social media. The year 2014 promises to be an even more exciting time for branded social content with more money than ever being spent on social advertising and content creation. The following trends emerged in 2013 and the brand examples that follow exemplify each trend as some of the strongest cases of digital marketing in their respective industries and verticals.
1. Branded Storytelling
Storytelling isn’t a new phenomenon, but the interesting thing about storytelling in 2013 is the way marketers branded and sold it in the digital space. AdWeek’s Jon Hamm wrote, “We are in a world where a brand’s values and the emotions they evoke are narrative material.” To stay relevant, brands have to figure out how to connect on an emotional level with their fans, and humanize themselves in compelling ways. Microsoft* has doubled down on its storytelling efforts this year with its Stories platform. Its first installment on the site was 88 Acres: How Microsoft Quietly Built the City of the Future, a story about the man behind Microsoft’s intricate and unique facilities-management system. Sharing this tale of uniqueness, personality and innovation by such a large brand built emotional connectivity among its audience. Finding and sharing great stories is a great way to inject personality into your brand and engage audiences.
2. Real-time Content
What you say is just as important as when you say it, particularly when it comes to relevance and reach. Brands injected themselves into trending topics at an unprecedented rate in 2013, so marketers have taken to the Creative Newsroom approach: “planned real-time” content, anticipate trending events and creating appropriate, brand-relevant content. A great example of this approach is PayPal’s* content strategy, including posts referring to events like #SFbatkid or Royal Baby. This is a great workaround for brands that want to hop on trending content, but don’t want to take the risk or costs of a war room approach.
Instagram Video and Vine presented micro-videos as the new frontier on social media in 2013, forcing marketers to create relevant, meaningful, branded videos in 15 or six seconds, respectively. Lowe’s Fix in Six Vine campaign offered stop-motion how-to fixes around the house, giving the brand a useful, concise, and playful way to engage their audience. Lululemon* has made a splash on Instagram Video by using the platform to showcase the brand’s personality and passion. The notable thing about both examples is that they ideated and created content based on the platforms, rather than creating content and trying to force it to fit within the platform. Distinct content strategies are important for every channel, but perhaps none is as important as these micro-video platforms.
4. Converged Media + Breaking Through
With 1 billion Facebook posts and 400 million tweets being published every day, breaking through the noise on social is a major challenge for marketers. And now with things like Facebook’s changes to the News Feed algorithm, marketers are also faced with the challenge of breaking through social platforms’ limitations to get their content seen. Integrated strategies that include paid, earned and owned media are crucial to amplifying messages effectively. Strand Books in New York City engages strong partners like celebrities and other social brands to amplify messaging and drive awareness, compels loyal consumers and media alike to promote their events and promotions organically, and utilizes various custom content strategies for their social channels in smart ways based on their unique audiences. As marketers, it’s critical to approach content from all angles to ensure it’s seen by the right audiences.
5. The Rise of Mobile
In Q3 of this year, Facebook reported that 48 percent of its daily users are accessing the site via mobile only. This means that we, as marketers, have to be smarter with our content and ads for mobile. In Mashable’s How to Improve Your Mobile Marketing Strategy, Michael Blumenfeld said, “The big lesson here is to not try to stuff 10 pounds of information into a two-pound bag.” Many brands, like Poshmark, have found a sweet spot using mobile by keeping content tight and targeted, maximizing efforts and ad dollars. Knowing that mobile will continue dominating as a platform on which people consume content, all content in 2014 should be created with mobile in mind.
What trends have you seen emerge in 2013, and what other great campaigns have you seen in the last year?
*An Edelman client