As "Paid, Owned, and Earned" becomes the mantra for media executives and marketers, brands need to closely examine how they utilize their owned assets. Their social media numbers are growing, and many have amassed millions of "subscribers" to these new channels. Overnight, brands have built their content distribution networks, and they're coming to realize the challenge of programming to an audience. (And, they thought the guys at NBC had it easy.)
Brand communication in these channels has to be more than sales and product benefits. Instead, marketers will need to curate content for their audience, aligning programming choices with brand values. They will aggregate, license, and ultimately create more content than ever before, and will also have to deal with their content being mashed up by consumers too. So, to all the new programming executives, a few things to keep in mind:
Audience, Audience, Audience
Content must deliver a benefit to your consumer. Whether it's a joke, a recipe, or even a drama series, the audience is looking for something of value. They've connected to you by choice. And, can easily disconnect. Respect the audience and why they've chosen to spend time with you.
Over-branding Devalues Content
You love your brand, you think others do, and so you'll have the urge to put it in every frame. Let it breathe. You can still have brand attribution in balance. No one loves an infomercial, unless they're getting the royalties.
"You Had Me at Hello"
The first rule of programming is to hook your audience. You need to grab their attention early and bring them in. Just because you've built a following today, doesn't mean that they'll come back tomorrow. You constantly have to charm at the door.
Collectively, the Audience is Smarter than You
It may sound foolish, but you'll never pull one over on the audience. Together, those millions are smarter than the few executives sitting in your conference room. And they'll let you know that loudly. Be authentic, don't try to stand for something you're not, and don't dumb down your content.
Distribution Partners Know Their Audience
In order to be successful, you will need to partner on both content creation and its distribution. On TV, it's not your airwaves; online, you're borrowing someone else's users. Those distributors presumably know their audience — what they like, what they need — that's how they've amassed their followings. Respect their input, and realize distributors have another brand in mind to protect, their own.
Chet Fenster joined the agency in 2006 to launch MEC Entertainment, which specializes in entertainment strategy and original content creation. Working across languages, genres, and platforms, Chet has lead MEC Entertainment, since its inception, to the forefront of branded content. Chet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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