Opinion: How brands can create original and entertaining content
As hunger for it grows, the focus of original content is evolving. The era of collaboration, personalization and engagement metrics calls into question the strategies on which businesses once relied.
Original content should say something meaningful, whether through recognizing and responding to audience desires or offering a unique perspective that helps orient the brand’s role in the world. Fueled by data and high production value, quality original content not only builds equity for a brand but can help it connect more authentically with new communities in the process.
Original content that focuses on what a brand stands for–and not its product—builds trust and relevance. Here are four other strategies to make original content stand out:
Content should stand on its own
Consumers want content they would consume in its own right, rather than an advertisement with content attached. Early Michelin Guides, for instance, included useful maps, tire repair and replacement instructions and auto mechanic listings for motorists on the go—in addition to a list of restaurants worth a stop.
Brands and service partners should look for opportunities to attract audiences with useful or entertaining content. Examples include GEICO’s caveman campaign, which spawned a TV show, and the popular LEGO film series.
Have a perspective your audience wants to see
In addition to crafting ads consumers will enjoy, brands should create content on a par with shows on streaming platforms, for example.
The YouTube Originals series “Instant Influencer” is an especially interesting example of this. The series discusses the process of creating branded content—if a little bit simplified—and features paid-promotion products that its influencer contestants sell to the judges (and, one could argue, viewers). But the series isn’t about the products being displayed; it’s about the influencers and what drives their passion for makeup. It works because viewers can relate.
As brands build original content, they should ask: Does our content stand on its own legs? In many MediaMonks projects, consumers might never actually see a product. Instead, the brand engages with consumers in the cultural zeitgeist, as when IBM Originals profiled coders developing innovative technologies for first responders in the documentary “Code & Response.”
“Consumers want to see what narrative you are helping to put out into the world, what you are showing you believe yourself to be, and is that backed up by what you’re doing,” said Chelsea Clinton during a virtual presentation at Cannes Lions Live in June.
Start with insights, then build for engagement
While brands should approach projects as content pieces (not necessarily branded), they still have marketing KPIs to validate their investment. By using data as a starting point in developing their creative idea or discovering content opportunities, brands can better inject relevance into their creative.
Consider how shopping data and consumption habits help Amazon and Netflix discover new content opportunities. I’ve seen how brands can combine knowledge of upcoming entertainment opportunities with their value and purpose. Through consumer data and partnerships, brands can fuel unique consumer viewing experiences in their original content.
Pick the right platform—and the right format
The strategy to deliver original content will vary by platform and target audience. Where’s the right place for a brand to tell its story? Does it pick a side in the streaming wars, aim for vast reach on YouTube or pursue a more targeted community on a platform like Twitch? Once a platform is chosen, what’s the right format to deliver? Consider who your audience is and the stories you want to tell to identify the best environment for them.
Each content platform goes after a distinct context or subgroup. A documentary film gives subjects’ stories the space needed to do them justice. Short-form content fills consumers’ time on their way to work or during other breaks. Livestream platforms uniquely bring communities together to interact and influence original content in real time.