If you were asked to name some of the challenges surrounding branded content, what would you say? There are a number to choose from: ensuring that your content is discovered, encouraging viewers to spend time with your brand, convincing them to come back for more. A single video rarely manages to satisfy every content marketing pain point. But there is a strategy that comes pretty close.
In the spirit of the holiday season we just enjoyed, think of the content development process as akin to making cookies. After you roll out the dough and shape the perfect treat, you’re left with excess material that didn’t make the cut. You could throw this away. But isn’t it far better to reshape it into something just as enticing?
In digital media, this excess material takes the form of “behind the scenes” video footage and outtakes — the stuff the camera captures just before or after you get the take right. It used to be that consumers would never see this material; it was deemed superfluous. In fact, it can be used to extend your content marketing strategy. Leveraging on-set secrets and project sneak peeks can help you tell a deeper, more engaging story about your brand.
It’s a trend we’ve been seeing a lot of online as marketers look for ways to enhance the content marketing experience for consumers. Best Buy’s Ultimate Holiday Showroom campaign relied on hilarious celebrity outtakes to entertain its viewers once its commercial has come to an end. Community design site Threadless routinely profiles artists on its blog and by way of exclusive videos made available to fans online.
Last month, Airbnb launched its first national ad campaign, created by commissioning artists to replicate fifty of its most popular rental homes in birdhouse form, and recording the results. The short film that captures the process, called “Home to You,” incorporates outtake-type footage from the get-go, but the scope and ingenuity of the project necessitates a more in-depth report.
At related campaign site Birdbnb.com, consumers can access three exclusive videos about the creation and installation of the birdhouses in a New Orleans park. Seven additional audio clips invite viewers to get to know the artists and ornithologists who brought the venture to life.
In some cases, a look behind closed doors can become the inspiration for a campaign as a whole. This past summer, Australian news and parenting blog Mamamia launched the first in a series of online videos designed to give its users a look at what goes on behind the scenes at the site. The resulting video (the first in a series) is a funny and fresh way to connect viewers with the Mamamia editorial team as its bloggers brainstorm stories for the day. It also represents an advertising opportunity for brands; the content sponsor, Post-It, is featured by way of logos at the start and end of the clip, as well as through product placement.
The Mamamia staff uses the colorful sticky notes to map out an editorial calendar on the wall, and the product makes a second appearance in the office environment (see if you can spot it on the team’s mutual desk).
When we build a brand or product site, we strive to provide value to its visitors. The content we choose to feature must be engaging, informative, and entertaining. Branded videos should be treated in this same way: not simply as stand-alone marketing assets, but as part of a greater content offering that’s far more immersive than a single video could be.
Providing users with a glimpse behind the scenes not only gives them something more to explore, but lends authenticity to the content itself. Projects like Birdbnb are more interesting when you understand how much energy went into creating those tiny birdhouses in the exact likeness of real-world residences. Exclusive content designed to accompany branded videos and short films gives the advertiser’s message strength. In this way it can extend not only the life of a campaign, but the degree to which it impacts your audience.