Vizeum is a strategic agency created for the new era of media. We exist to step-change our clients’ communications. We do not start with an ad. We do not start with media. We start from a different place. We combine our unique understanding of underlying human motivations and the new human behaviours enabled by the digital age, to help our clients grow their business.
Social media has grown as a business channel for companies of every size. In the race to embrace and engage communities, there is now an extortionate amount of boring, costly and wasteful content. Spot competitions, vague polls, and superfluous ‘interactive’ social questions are flooding newsfeeds across the nation.
The social content creation space is slowly realising that it’s time to go back to basics. Instead of just filling our social calendars with the recommended 2 to 3 posts/week, there is a pressing need to focus on storytelling. These stories need to be planned with rigour. Vizeum’s belief is that we need to plan for different platforms and target our storytelling so that it reaches the correct audience. But equally we need to evolve the traditional story arc so that it can sit across different mediums and make sure the story makes sense from every touchpoint.
In the third Spotlight interview, ex-creative director for Buzzfeed and Consulting Editorial Director for Joe.co.uk, Philly Byrne discussed the creation of great content for a socially connected audience. Vizeum kicked off by asking him “what made a ‘wow’ story”.
He begun by stating that a good story will provide something for the reader, whether it’s evoking an emotional response or sparking intellectual curiosity. Byrne mentioned that good content will always entertain and inform by appealing to your emotions. The recent video on YouTube and Facebook from the Spanish Christmas Lottery is a great example of a story told well. It features a lonely security guard who is eventually celebrated by his colleagues. It appeals to the human emotions of kindness, loneliness and friendship. Emotional stories don’t necessarily have to take the form of video to be effective. Airbnb’s Instagram account has developed into a collection of beautiful stories written by its users about their experiences in some of the most unique homes in the world.
Byrne elaborated that another way to generate traction is to tell a story that sparks intellectual curiosity. Content around Donald Trump has generated endless news stories and analyses. At its core, Donald Trump’s journey this year is a story, with heroes and villains, and it makes us observe the world around us. It is social honey for content producers.
Really great content should add value to our lives. As an example consider Hailo. During the recent Luas strikes, Hailo didn’t push out a funny meme that joked about Luas drivers. Instead, they launched a mass email, text and social campaign informing its customers that there would be a special discount to help them get to work on strike days. Through the production of clever, data-driven content planning, Hailo managed to move branded content way up the funnel to point of purchase.
This all leads to the question of content output. Should we produce an endless amount of low quality content to fill our social newsfeed, or should we focus on long form content that provides a deeper experience for the user and possibly a deeper brand affinity? This is what Vizeum describe as the quality vs quantity paradigm.
An example of high quality, low quantity content is the Jonnie Walker’s stunning six minute piece featuring Jude Law called ‘The Gentleman’s Wager’. This video gathered 12 million views on Youtube and its soundtrack spanned across several music platforms. With high quality, low quantity pieces like this, the brand gives itself the budget and the time to develop deep audience insights to create a deeply moving piece that is guaranteed to resonate, generate traction and deepen brand affinity.
Naturally the time and investment behind this type of content isn’t achievable for most brands. But a brand can still achieve a large volume of views by adopting a strategy to spread those views across a number of content pieces of lower production quality. A high volume, low quality content strategy refers to content like a Buzzfeed article or a weekly social post. When content is produced at such a high rate, it can be difficult to predict the ‘hit’. Byrne believes that a brand needs to produce a reasonable degree of creative volume in order to produce amazing content. Vizeum would argue that this only suits a publisher. Realistically a brand, needs to be more selective and sit closer to the low to medium end of the volume content axis. In my view, a brand’s followers will be less forgiving and be quicker to drop a brand if it is failing to provide them with value and encroaching too much on their newsfeed. Ultimately, unlike a publisher, a brand’s raison d’etre is not content.
High quality, high quantity content is generally reserved for the brands that are willing to invest in insight, technology, amplification, production and development. Burberry produce content that is nearly of a cinematic nature. They employed one of New York’s top photographers and founder of the Satorialist to fuel a user generated content-driven website entitled ‘Art of the trench’. Through the use of its hefty budget to drive a strong social community around pictures of people modelling trench coats, Burberry was able to generate over seven million website views, a strong social following and a 14% increase in revenue in the last quarter.
Last year, King crisps released a video featuring Conor McGregor chomping on a bag of King and winking at the camera while his butler described the superiority of the crisp. This piece caught the nation’s interest, and was even featured on the ‘Late Late Show’. Often content pieces find success because they hit on the zeitgeist of that moment. With a modest level of investment, this piece of content received approx. 300,000 views, far exceeding most of the other McGregor videos.
Regardless of where your brand sits on the quality-quantity paradigm, investment in promotional support is essential. Without it, your content has limited chance of going viral as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have algorithms now in place, which favour posts with paid support. Large organic reach is unheard of. When unsupported posts do manage to generate some engagement it can be fleeting and the flashes of success can be quickly forgotten without a budget prop.
Where each brand should sit on this Quality vs Quantity paradigm depends on the brand needs, budget and its goals. Above all, a brand’s content must seek to deliver value to its audience