Brands Should Focus More on Owned “Middleweight Content” Than Social [#CZLNY]

Brands need to think like publishers in terms of content strategy, according to Jinal Shah, global strategy director for JWT. 

At her ClickZ Live New York session, “Culture, Content, & Commerce: Key Trends Shaping the Current Content Landscape,” Shah compared a brand posting all its content on social media to hosting a party at somebody else’s house. Instead, Shah recommended brands leverage social content to direct consumers back to their own platforms.

“If we think of the best brands – GE, Burberry, Coca-Cola, Red Bull – I probably don’t know what their current TV campaigns are, but in my head, I know what these brands stand for,” Shah said. “When I say ‘GE,’ you think of innovation; when I say Red Bull, you think of Red Bull giving you wings and flying and being bold. What these brands have done is protect who they are with their content.”

For a brand to excel as those have, they need to focus on “middleweight content.” Shah believes content exists on a continuum, with heavyweight content comprising thought-out campaigns that took a lot of time to execute. On the other side of the spectrum is social media. Middleweight content is somewhere in between, both in terms of effort and finances.

“We believe every single brand is an authority or has an expertise on something, and focusing on middleweight content is to highlight what that expertise is,” said Shah.

Middleweight content can include listicles, like Target’s BuzzFeed post about macaroni and cheese hacks targeted at college students, GIFs like the dancing shoes on Barneys’ website, and branded content hubs, such as Kraft Recipes or Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Center.

This isn’t to say social media has no value. All platforms have their strengths – while Instagram is perfect for dynamic lifestyle imagery, Facebook directs a lot of traffic elsewhere and Snapchat is a great place to reach female Millennials.

Shah recommends identifying those strengths and leveraging them, rather than taking a social-first approach to content creation, especially given that platforms like Instagram and Pinterest don’t appear in search results.

“We are all brand marketers first and content marketers second,” she said. “How do you create content that’s meeting the standards and expectations of the platform, serving the brand’s intent, and serving the intent of the consumers? It’s not impossible, but it’s very hard.”

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