Marketers continue to have a seemingly inexorable appetite for content, and content quality always seems to be left by the wayside. There are many reasons for this; from the ever-expanding media placement opportunities, to continued organic or “community-building” social strategies, to the need to test-and-learn about new platforms that consumers spend their time on, marketers tend to need more brand, product or offer-related messages than ever before in an equally large number of formats.
How much of this is strategically needed is a whole other critical topic, for which I offer Moment Studio’s Content Marketing Framework here.
On the supply side, marketers luckily have more options than ever for sourcing content. Content agencies, internal agencies & studios, publisher studios, influencers, influencer platforms, stock houses and even creative agencies all offer a piece of the content universe for a price.
Navigating this landscape can be complicated. But we offer 5 simple things to look for when choosing a content partner.
1. Creative AND Production
Choose a partner with both creative and production chops. This means “real creatives” need to work on the team. Technology and expediency has driven a need (and ability) for outstanding Creative thinking to be married up with production capability. Agencies that do this seamlessly will provide higher quality more efficiently. At Moment Studio, we mix brand-building creative and storytelling talent with modern production talent on every project and team. This is a central principle on which I built Moment Studio, which is a Creative/Production hybrid at its core. You can learn more about the new creative/production paradigm here.
2. Cultural Sensitivity
The right partner sees enough brands, publishes enough content and is close enough to consumer platforms to have the right cultural sensitivity to make content that matters to target audiences while coming across as authentic. This requires an understanding of not only consumer insights, but cultural patterns on the whole. It also requires deep understanding of the unique cultures that exist within the platforms where a brand’s content will appear. Content for YouTube, Reddit, Imgur, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest will all look, feel and play out its story differently on each platform. The right partner understands both popular culture and platform culture, and can help a brand avoid PR disasters that come with culturally-insensitive content that reflects an internal echo chamber, rather than what a target audience will relate to.
3. Creative impact, not just efficient reach
Make sure you’re buying actual creative content, and not just reach. Publishers and influencers are really selling their reach – the audience they’ve collected. Audience is a commodity and can be purchased cheaply. When a partner is providing creative as part of a media buy, remember where the provider’s focus is, and what their main business is. Chances are they’re not investing in the creative talent needed to come up with great creative. Reach, engagement, and action are all important, and Moment Studio provides a product called “Distributed Content Bundles” that bundles media solutions with high-quality content to guarantee media results. But story and brand must come first.
4. Strategic Guidance
Think editorial strategy and channel strategy. Many content providers are vertical platform experts – publishers understand destination media. Instagram influencers understand fashion on Instagram. Etc., etc. Working with one of these partners means you’re getting a solution that fits what they are selling. It’s a little like shopping for a five-course gourmet meal at a hot dog stand – there’s only hot dogs for sale there. A partner like a content agency will provide editorial and channel strategy: thinking that considers the many messages, cadences, paid and organic strategies, reach and frequency considerations and platform decisions that can make a content marketing platform perform. Typically they can do a one-off execution (need that 30-second spot transcreated to work on Snapchat?) very well too. Moment Studio provides strategic advisory from workshops, to playbooks to business objective analysis through to editorial strategy and planning to ensure that your content is actually “precision content” – content that performs a purposeful function at all times.
5. Quality Creative Capabilities
Related, many content providers are specialists in their one area – one minute Instagram videos. 10 second snaps for Snapchat. Two minute Facebook videos with branding in the first three seconds. Nothing wrong with any of this. But content isn’t “cute creative.” And most marketers’ content challenges are more complex than a single format or platform can handle. Further, simply managing a whole range of platforms and formats is another full-time job most marketers don’t have the time for. A content agency can help prioritize, strategize and then create specifically for the brand’s goals. Not the inventory a provider specializes in. And a content agency will have a full range of creative talents on staff to tell whatever story best captures a brand’s needs.
Content marketing has grown up, and the right content agency partner can help brands get impressive results from their social and content campaigns.
Ken Kraemer is CEO and Founder of Moment Studio. He started Moment Studio to provide a high-quality, efficient way for brands to create great social content that gets equally great business results.