Zach King is on stage talking about how he made it as a globally renowned Vine star. At the start of his talk, he shares his latest video on Instagram. It’s a 15 second vid he made last night in Hong Kong. 19 minutes in, he takes his phone out of his pocket to check how many likes the video has got. 13,000 in 19 minutes. But it’s not good enough. He can, and has done, better. In fact, he’s probably going to re-edit and post it again. For most of us, 684 likes per minute is the stuff content dreams are made of, but his sense of disappointment sets the tone of the morning perfectly: great content isn’t something that happens by chance. Far from it. Content creators are going to great lengths to make their video the best it can be for their audiences. The game has changed. So as brands, advertisers and creators, how do we change with it?
#1 Fail better
Samuel Becket famously said “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Coca Cola’s Pratik Thakar is on Samuel’s page, and you should be too. We’re programmed as humans to want to succeed, but successful content doesn’t necessarily come first time. It’s a process; trial and error. As Pratik says, “If I expanded on our failures, I’d be here for a week”.
Let’s face it, nobody wants to tell the boss that their idea didn’t work. So how do you fail well?
- “Try fast, fail fast, if it works scale it up”. Coke lives by this rule. Take risks through incubation and test ideas in one market before going big
- Zach King doesn’t do fails. If his content doesn’t get as many likes as it should, he reads the comments, finds out what’s wrong, re-edits and reposts later on. The lesson? Don’t be afraid to be bold about your desire to create content that people want
- Take a long-term view of content. Make it a science. This allows you to experiment
#2 Saturation, Saturation, Saturation
Welcome to generation hard to please. And we’ve only got ourselves to blame. As advertisers and brands, we’ve seen channels multiply, we’ve seen our audiences adopt three screens at once. And we’ve bombarded them with content. The result? A highly demanding audience, with advanced bulls**t detectors.
As today’s speakers talk about reaching our audience, what they want and don’t want, how to make them happy, I can’t help but conjure up an image of a grumpy toddler at feeding time. We’re trying to get them to eat, they need to be fed, but for some reason they don’t want the hyper-nutritious mush we’re trying to stuff down their throats. They’re distracted and reject it, until, that is, we pretend the spoon is an aeroplane and, ouila, they ‘open wide’. For content marketers, it’s much the same conundrum (minus the mush). How do we dress up content and make it into something the audience wants. How do we entertain them?
- Listen as you publish, says Alex Light from Vice. And respond to your audience, all the time. And King says the reason he’s here today is down to the commenters, who keep coming back for more.
- This generation doesn’t understand advertising, says Light. Make your language visual, and your content interactive. It’s all about image and video
- Talk to a culture, not to an audience, says Pratik Thakar. What’s more, don’t be afraid to be niche. As long as your consistent, people will keep coming back, whether you’re a brand, creator or publisher
#2 Be less adult, more child
Zach King shared three ground rules for content creation: make it clean, make it contagious, but most of all, make it appeal to people’s inner child, make them curious. And for Coke’s Pratik Thakar, content marketing is a playground.
But despite the swings and promise of frolics, playgrounds are scary places, and there’s always a kid who’s ready to steal your lunch and your friends. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it can be a challenge to convince a company, and the powers that be, to be playful with their budget. So how do we embrace our inner children to unlock great content marketing, without forgetting the stuff that matters?
- Calculate the cost and impact of content creation will help you gain support for your ideas internally, says Coca Cola
- Persuade. Open as many doors as you can inside the brand, find the stories in as many places as possible, and the company will start to buy into content. This makes it easier to grow the potential of the content machine. Nissan’s Dan Sloan
- Create content that you love. Play with your content. See what works, what doesn’t. Build on it and learn. This gives you the freedom to create content that works better each time.