If content is king, let me introduce you to the queen

Jenni Armstrong

Former Brand and Content Manager, Google

Today’s guest blog is from Naomi Dunne is Head of Connections Planning at creative agency Mr President.

She talks about the importance of building distribution into digital content and gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how she put theory into practice with a couple of her fantastic recent campaigns for Bacardi and Nike.

Three hundred videos are uploaded to YouTube every single minute. So, how does that lovely piece of film that you created for your brand ever get seen? Equally – how are potential new customers going to find that awesome Twitter competition you’ve created or that beautiful Instagram of your product?

Quality of content is no doubt important – hence the mantra ‘content is king’. If your content is good enough, your audience will share it with others – driving a lovely virtuous circle of sharing. But don’t think that even the best quality branded content will spontaneously fly on its own. You’re competing for attention against a tsunami of material already out there. Dove Beauty Sketches and Red Bull Stratos had some pretty monumental distribution strategies behind them to kick off their virtuous circles of earned reach.

Achieving reach in digital is now fundamentally more complex than the traditional comms planning approach of ‘creative + media spend’. A smart distribution strategy is not quite as simple as ‘spending your way to the top’. As the scale of digital content increases, relying entirely on buying attention through paid media placements becomes increasingly expensive. Compounding this, search rankings are biased towards the context of content; reputable journalists and bloggers (with momentum behind them) rank higher than those with less of an influential network because their content has proven popularity. Authorship is becoming increasingly critical to visibility.

When planning branded content for digital channels it’s therefore smart to build distribution into the idea by slipstreaming what the audience are already engaging with. This means making branded content for communities gathered around genuine interests (rather than communities gathered around brands) and directly involving the linchpins within those communities as part of the activity. Media is still a powerful tool to generate visibility, but it should ‘accelerate’, rather than be the sole traffic driver.

We call this “Connections Planning” – a strategic approach to connect brands with the audience that they are trying to reach. Below are a couple of campaigns that we’ve done at Mr. President, that bring this approach to life:

How do you get guys to order a BACARDÍ Cuba Libre (rather than a generic ‘rum and coke’)?

Working off the insight that there’s always one guy who can’t make it out on the night out, for one night only we gave guys the opportunity to give their absent friend ‘a taste of freedom’ by sending them a BACARDÍ Cuba Libre. But how do you get the word out there…and fast?! Not by just relying on the incremental earned reach from owned social communities…

In order to get immediate scale, we partnered with UBER (who maintain a massive customer base in London).  Users could log onto their UBER app, hit the BACARDÍ bat icon and nominate a friend to receive the drink. Mixologists then delivered the free and freshly mixed BACARDÍ Cuba Libre right to their door. Heavy influencers in our demographic kick-started the activity using #UberLibre (which reached 6.7 million people, and trended on Twitter). As a result, there were more social mentions for BACARDÍ Cuba Libre in a 48-hour window in the UK than the whole of 2014 combined.

How do you use social channels to promote the latest women’s running shoe?

We needed to get girls excited, over the summer, about the new LunarGlide 6 running shoe – designed to be fashionable as well as functional. Based on the insight that packing for holidays is tough (and this shoe ‘kills two birds with one stone’: daytime run, plus night time fun), our idea was to get girls to design (using the Nike iD tool) their own LunarGlides based on their holiday destination.

But this message would have been lost in the ether had we just ‘put it out there’. So, we built distribution into the idea by commissioning influential health and fitness bloggers to design their own pair of LunarGlides, based on their summer holiday.

On the Nike website you could explore all of them. Influencers shared their designs with their communities and designs were picked up by editorial distributors – all creating a groundswell of buzz. Online shops even started selling influencer designs as ‘special editions’. All this added up to a ton of online sales.

The message to take away: smart digital planning requires clever creative content, but you also need to be creative about distributing it.

 Naomi Dunne is Head of Connections Planning at Mr President.

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