As digital marketing gains a foothold on the market, and native advertising becomes the new normal, brands are starting to take the initiative in creating their own content … and sometimes that's not a good thing.
Brands can mess up their own content creation and content curation, with disastrous results.
Recently, Australian clothing brand Black Milk got into some online drama when they posted a staff-made meme that implied their usually "body positive" community only thought women who looked a certain way were attractive. Situations like this – where the company attracted negative attention and many outraged fans publicly declaring they'd never buy the clothing again – can be avoided by having a trusted, experienced content team at the helm.
That's where you, the agency, come in. You can act as an "in-house" content studio for brands, producing the content they need to continue to update their digital presence. With agencies and brands working together and playing their strengths, not only do results improve, but the quality of the content produced improves too, and that's good for everyone.
Agencies as Partners, Not Gatekeepers
Digital content can be a partnership.
It used to be that a huge part of the power of an agency was in its networks. The agency could reach hundreds of thousands of people a brand just couldn't. Now, as Digiday's John McDermott says in regard to TV advertising, "distribution has been equalised. A brand like Coca Cola with 82.9 million Facebook Fans has as much distribution power as the networks used to have. The gatekeeper has been taken away, and now production is where the value's at."
It's almost as if there is a role reversal – now, brands are bringing in the numbers, and it's up to the content creators and publishers at agencies to keep those people interested in the brand. As McDermott says, "People are going to want to consume content from a certain point of view. Niche publishers that have a unique point of view are going to continue to thrive. These are the publishers brands will want to work with to create content for them."
And these brands will be knocking on your door for content and strategy, especially if you can show them established relationships with publishers, both mass-market and niche. That's where your agency can bring out the old networking skills and become an asset to any content-producing brand.
The Agency as a Content Curation Manager
Finding curated content can b a lot like panning for gold.
Curated content is a vital facet of content strategy for many brands, but it can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to curating user-generated content. How do you ensure brand integrity when you have literally thousands of content creators, all unpaid, all with a unique voice and all without a care about your 'brand voice" or "target demographic"?
Simple, you farm the responsibility to managing, maintaining and promoting user-generated and curated content out to an agency. That agency is going to need to be very closely aligned with the brand, so they can quickly respond to new uploads and find ways to keep the brand integrity intact. Your agency's ability to locate and draw attention to high quality content – as well as encourage better user-generated content – will make you a real winner in the eyes of any major brand.
Creation and Distribution go Hand in Hand
It's not enough to simply be creating awesome content on a regular basis: To be effective, that content needs to be seen, approved and shared by a brand's core audience.
And sometimes, brands don't quite get this. You see brands all the time trying to use platforms that aren't suited to their products or services, and failing miserably. Often content distribution done from a brand level is very ad hoc – the company might be creating good content, because they've got clever staff who understand the products and positioning well, but if they're not getting that content in front of the right people, it's pretty much useless.
This is very sad, and easily avoidable by having your agency – experts in all things content – to distribute this awesome stuff. The brand will provide content, which you can edit, veto if required, and send out into the world.
The Agency as a Creative Technology Hub
Your agency should be thinking about how content will be accessed as technology changes.
At the heart of digital content marketing is technology, and that is constantly in flux. Brands are busy doing their thing – making their products awesome. So when it comes to content marketing, they are often six months or more behind the game. Some are really, really behind.
As the agency partner, you are top of the class when it comes to technology. You are already looking at content ideas for Google Glass, you have viral video all wrapped up, you are sussing out native advertising opportunities. You are always on to the next thing. That's what brands pay you for. They can come to you for strategies on getting their content on the newest, hottest platforms, and you can work on projects on the cutting edge of marketing. Everyone is a winner.
The agency of the future is seen as more a part of the brand's company – an out-of-house, "in-house" team helping push content strategy forward. Relationships are long-term and symbiotic – brand and agency play on their strengths when it comes to feeding off each other, and as a result, consumers receive beautiful, dynamic content that makes them happy.
How is your agency adapting your strategies and offerings to appeal to content-producing brands? How do you balance production and strategy and distribution of content? How are you keeping up with technology?