Rethinking Content — Insights From Rethink Conf // 2015.

Author: James Towers, Founding Partner, 16K Agency — Stockholm, Sweden.

Rethink Conf // 2015 hosted in Stockholm, promised to deliver critical insights into what it takes for brands to operate at the pointy end of the field and lead their competitors. With speakers like Social@Ogilvy MD, EAME, Marshall Manson, Lego’s Global Director of Social and Search Marketing, Lars Silberauer, Rachel Goodman, Head of Brand Partnerships at Pintrest, Afonso R. de Sousa, Media Strategy Lead, EAME, at LinkedIn and Global Director of Brand Identity at Kodak, Danielle Atkins the room was in for a high-powered day of discussion.

Credit: Rethink Conf // 2015

What quickly became the subject of the day was that familiar C-word…content. Brands have been in a rush to create it and now consumers, well, they’ve reached peak content overload.

‘Consumer’s bullshit radars are a few settings higher’

Creating poorly planned branded content and pushing it out on social media used to work for brands relatively well at the start of the ‘content era’. It used to be a refreshing difference from the clutter of paid advertising that brands assaulted the public with day in and day out. But consumers are not paying attention anymore, as today their bullshit radars are a few settings higher.

So What Does it Take to Get Consumers Attention?

Think micro, understand the audiences within your audience and speak to them in a way they’ll happily listen. Mashall Manson shed light on the demise of mass branded content being pushed to a brand’s ‘community’ labelling the strategy as out-dated. “To succeed, the content has to be fit for the feed. Earn attention, earn space, only the feed matters” he quipped. People are on social media having conversations and interacting with each other, they don’t react well to being harassed by brands trying to make a dollar. Manson described the lazy approach by marketers in a humorous example “You don’t walk up to people at a party and interrupt them mid-conversation asking if they want to buy a pair of shoes. That’s just weird.”

The Platform

Brands need to earn consumer’s attention, but they’ve also got to understand the platform on which they are trying to speak with their consumers. Rachel Goodman spruiked the power of the Pintrest platform and noted that well over 80% of the Pintrest audience will go on to purchase because of something they’ve seen there. Rachel spoke of a key difference in the platform “Pintrest is about the future” and “it’s about planning for life’s biggest events.”

When brands understand what their desired audience is on a particular social platform for, they’ll have a far better chance of creating content that’s relevant and that sits well in the conversation. Facebook shouldn’t look like your Instagram, it’s a chance to tell a deeper story, Instagram shouldn’t look like your Twitter, Instagram is there to inspire and Twitter is great at giving 140 character running commentary to the daily activity of a brand.

Making Content That Resonates

Lego’s Lars Silberbauer said to make content that will strike a chord with an audience you need to understand why people are following a particular brand on social media and what branded content they, as consumers, are willing to engage with.

It’s finding the social need of the audience that has been a key for Lego. Lego worked at establishing three core social needs of their audience as building together, pride in creation and value creation.

He’s employed ‘within the brick’ thinking (and some help from his mother to tap into his inner child) to help discover exactly what Lego should be for its consumers.

Probably the best evidence of this theory working is the runaway, viral success Lego have enjoyed with playful campaigns like Life of George. This was a campaign with virtually no budget that enabled fans around the world to create their own version of the George story and share it on social media. It tapped into the core social needs of the audience that became the backbone of the campaign’s success.

The Life of George campaign was branded content that resonated at huge scale for Lego. Something that Afonso R. de Sousa spoke of as key to successful branded content. LinkedIn has 1 million publishers of content currently and much of it is amiss with the desired audience “you need to offer relevance at scale, the right message, delivered to the right audience” he said.

Being Relevant

The underlying theme of the day seemed to be relevance of content and just how crucial relevance is to survive in business today. A brand that found out about not being relevant anymore is Kodak. Kodak is one of the world’s most recognisable brands, amazingly even after its 2007 file for bankruptcy, Kodak enjoys 58% brand recognition, surpassing power hitters like Apple and Coca Cola.

Danielle Atkins discussed how the rebuilding process for Kodak relies squarely on creating relevance with consumers again. Kodak touched on the importance of relevant collaborations that have enabled the iconic brand to become relevant again today. Danielle said the path to resurrection of Kodak lies with three key pillars; capitalising on assets, collaborations with advocates, and celebrating the company’s products.

The Future of Content

Although it seems we’ve reached peak content overload, the last few years have been about brands coming to terms with the way they should act on social media. The smart brands are getting themselves sorted, understanding that social media is an extension of the human need to be social and not just another channel to place ads.

Consumers are more than happy to consume branded content but it’s got to add value, fit the feed in which it lives and be more relevant than ever.

About the Author:

James Towers is a Founding Partner of 16K Agency, a Stockholm-based media agency focusing on introducing a smartphone-based Augmented Reality platform for the media and retail industries in the Nordic region.