Content is the creation of stories that are to be expressed through every possible connection. (Coca-Cola)
All brands are now content publishers
I’ve first come across the concept of brands turning into content publishers at a MeetUp over a month ago, and it’s been stuck in my mind ever since. Nick Cohen shared an extraordinary story of Red Bull – yep, the vile-tasting energy drink that gives you wings – as it goes from making drinks in Austria to a global media powerhouse. Red Bull is one of the big-brand pioneers of content strategy, and considering how successful the brand is, they must be doing something right.
Brands are turning into media companies
Creating quality content is cheaper and easier than ever, and coupled with the rapid attention fragmentation (consumer attention being shared by an ever-increasing number of channels, thoughts and activities), it makes sense to try and create as much varied content as possible to share your brand story. Red Bull is a fine example of taking this idea and building a brand on it – did you know that more than 400 people now work for the Red Bull Media House, telling the world a story about living your life to the fullest?
The brand operates their own TV station, produces films and documentaries, runs one of the most successful magazines in the world, develops apps and games, maintains over 900 internet domains, and produces a ton of content for the web across all the different social networks. In fact, one of the most successful YouTube sports channels is run by Red Bull. And the pace of content production is ever-increasing – soon Red Bull will grow its own wings and turn from a drinks manufacturer to a full-fledged lifestyle brand such as Virgin.
Marketing department learning revolution
The content explosion backed by brands is here to stay (and this is a good thing – a lot of content competing for our attention means that only the valuable and relevant stories will stand a chance). But how can marketers make the most of this opportunity? The good news is that no one (including Red Bull) has figured out yet how to best go about becoming a content publisher. And they couldn’t have – with the current pace of technological and cultural changes (did you know about Pinterest last Christmas? Here’s RedBull Racing Pinterest site), the only possible answer is trial and error – and learning along the way.
While some things can be copied from the publishing/media industry, many questions remain open – who should develop the content? Should it be agencies, creative freelancers, or brand fans? How should content (=stories) that develops in social media conversations be managed and encouraged for maximum impact? What about fan-generated content? How should marketing budget be allocated between old and trusted content types and new experiments? These two videos give a fascinating insight into content thinking at Coca-Cola, and are well worth watching.
As I always say, these are fascinating times to be involved in marketing. What is your take on the content revolution? Do you see brands becoming major media players anytime soon? Where does inbound marketing fit in? Will be happy to hear your thoughts in the comments or on facebook/twitter