The ongoing impact of COVID-19 is creating a ripple effect across the digital media ecosystem, leading to a transformational shift in how people are consuming social content. Victor Potrel, VP of Platform Partnerships at TheSoul Publishing, discusses why brands should look to these trends and invest in the types of empathetic content (like ASMR) that people are viewing in isolation right now.
Marketing strategies are shifting: On the heels of COVID-19, a majority of marketers are readjusting their messaging to align with the cultural moment.
The growth of ASMR: Global audiences are increasingly looking to empathetic and soothing video content to help them get through the current state of unrest
Understanding generational viewing habits: brands should look to Gen-Z in terms of how content trends are going from niche to mainstream
The phrase “organic growth” has become ubiquitous in today’s business world. Business leaders across all industries are constantly looking for opportunities to expand their business not just by making acquisitions, but also by using the resources that already exist within their organization.
In the content creation space, one area that’s seeing organic growth and increasing audience engagement during these turbulent times is autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR).
So, what is ASMR exactly?
Simply put, it’s a feeling of well-being in response to a specific gentle stimulus, most often a particular sensation derived from sound. There are many explanations as to why the popularity of this content is growing right now, but it may simply be that viewers are seeking calm in this current state of unrest.
The increasing demand for empathetic and soothing content like ASMR
First, let’s look at the numbers. Just recently, the Association of National Advertisers reported that 92% percent of marketers are readjusting their messaging to reflect the cultural moment and sensitivities surrounding the health crisis.
Brands are starting to pivot, seeing that right now, consumers in isolation are seeking reassuring and empathetic content that helps them weather the storm. ASMR is proving to be that type of content, and as videos continue to rack up millions of views on YouTube, ad dollars are starting to follow.
ASMR has been steadily gaining popularity online for a few years, and last year’s Michelob Ultra Super Bowl ad featuring Zoe Kravitz certifiably took the trend mainstream.
Especially now, more and more major brands are beginning to increase their investments in the content strategy. Moe’s Southwest Grill recently tapped into the trend with its meditative queso dip video, and ASMR is now taking over various beauty brands’ TikTok accounts.
It helps that TikTok is a great platform to deliver an immersive audio-visual experience, but it applies to other platforms as well.
TheSoul Publishing’s ASMR content continues to see surging viewership, and the trend may prove to be a key indicator of where content creators should be focusing their resources moving forward.
Understanding generational shifts in content consumption
This shifting cultural moment and the demand from younger millennial and Gen-Z audiences seeking utility-based content like ASMR indicates more than merely a blip on the radar.
The social fascination behind ASMR has staying power, and the category will remain appealing for brands long after the current crisis has passed.
Even before the pandemic took hold, we’ve seen Gen-Z viewers continue to consume content across social platforms focusing on stress reduction, which is one of the key selling points for ASMR.
Over the past decade, videos of gamers playing video games have become one of the most popular forms of ‘organic’ entertainment for Gen-Z, changing the marketing paradigm on how to launch and create new gaming titles. This content trend started to appear from small niche communities that ultimately went mainstream over time.
Similarly, ASMR content is filling a gap that was not covered by television or other more closed platforms with strict programming schedules. This is why the openness of platforms like YouTube and TikTok act as great incubators for younger cord-cutting generations.
Algorithms aside, the mass audience feedback mechanism will tell you the exact type of content these demographics are craving, leading to the organic growth in views and subscribers that brands are ultimately looking for.
During the pandemic, we’ve seen a staggering number of viewers in the coveted 25-34 age range seeking ASMR videos, and once they get a taste of this type of content, they often come back for more.
As the ASMR content trend continues to explode, content creators should also consider expanding its use into videos that may not necessarily fit neatly into the category.
Many viewers may be unaware of the soothing impact, and once that first exposure happens, they often seek more without even knowing the cause of the good feelings.
Why the ASMR trend is here to stay
The feelings often stimulated by ASMR (and other stress relieving content) will never be able to replace those induced through daily interactions with family, friends, and colleagues.
But as more and more people discover its benefits, particularly in this current climate, the genre’s popularity will continue to grow. Focusing creative efforts on content that is attractive to younger audiences and speaks to their current interests on a variety of open platforms is one strategy brands should leverage to achieve peak organic growth at a critical moment in time for content creators around the world.
During a stressful period for many of us, we have seen a newly engaged community of online users who are seeking out practical and helpful content like ASMR. For brands, it’s critical to understand that audiences are eager to decompress with videos that are relaxing and soothing.
The ASMR trend can help inform a broader content strategy that not only drives views and brand engagement, but also helps people cope through these challenging times.
Victor Potrel is VP of Platform Partnerships at TheSoul Publishing, an independent digital studio that produces enjoyable, informative and inspiring original content for a global audience. Formerly at YouTube and LEGO, Victor is based in London and works closely with key distribution platforms including YouTube, Facebook/Instagram, and Snap. He simultaneously oversees TheSoul Publishing’s management of all global partner relations and advises on future distribution opportunities.