Traditional advertising campaigns can take a long time to produce, making it difficult to keep up with the lightning-fast pace of pop culture. But with "real time" brand content production, marketers can jump on timely trends in order to drive fan engagement.
At least that’s the idea behind The Moment Studio, a new service provided by digital agency Deep Focus that’s dedicated to creating brand content that is optimized for sharing on Facebook and other social platforms—and doing it at the pace of news and memes, not advertising.
"There has been a vacuum for this kind of real-time content production from brands. It’s going to be an essential part of the marketing mix," says Deep Focus executive creative director Ken Kraemer.
Dubbed a "creative newsroom," The Moment Studio aims to keep brands relevant with made-for-social "microcontent"—short, typically image-driven posts produced, and approved by the client, quickly. "What we do is more editorial in nature than the classic creative process," says Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer. "We’re observing what’s going on in the world and pop culture and how consumers are reacting to it and then creating content that’s built to share."
According to Schafer, the content production process goes like this: Each morning there’s a one-hour "rundown" meeting where the communication managers and the rest of The Moment Studio team talk about what is going on in pop culture—the Election, the Super Bowl, the latest meme—that might relate to their brands.
"We usually ideate on the fly," says Kraemer. "For instance, if it’s a beautiful day, we might go to a dog park and take some dog shots and see what comes of it."
Since images tend to perform best on social media, The Moment Studio’s content tends to be highly visual. For client Purina, pictures of cute dogs and cats with a "quoto"—a quote that captures the moment in words—do well on Facebook.
For instance, after the quick, impromptu photo shoot of 20 or so dogs at the dog park, the team will select 5-10 images that work. Then they pair the images with a snappy quote. After emailing the proposed post to the client, incorporating any feedback, and securing approval, they’ll post on Facebook—usually all in the same day.
"For brands to engage, the usual six-week content development process won’t work. In fact, a six-day cycle is too long—the new benchmark is more like six hours," Kraemer wrote in a blog post.
Clients are learning to streamline the typically arduous approval process so they don’t miss out on timely opportunities.
"The first inclination is for brands to be a little uncomfortable with this process because it means fewer revisions and fewer rounds of approval. Those need to be sacrificed for speed," says Schafer. "Marketing, legal, and PR all have to buy into the process and it requires a singular point of contact that can give the seal of approval."
The results are worth taking some risks for. According to Deep Focus, since Purina started working with The Moment Studio, its brand-page engagement has increased dramatically. While previously, 10,000-12,000 Facebook users would engage with a Purina post, now 50,000 to 60,000 people engage with a single piece of Moment Studio-produced content on Facebook.
The Moment Studio’s real-time content marketing approach also helped Pepsi attain its goal of reaching 20 million Facebook users per week in the U.S.
"We’re creating content that’s optimized for sharing," says Schafer. "One of the most valuable forms of engagement is whether or not content gets into people’s newsfeeds. The more these individual pieces of content finds its way into people’s newsfeeds, the better we’ve done. If people are sharing this piece of content, then we know we’ve done our job."
What sort of content gets shared the most? "People like to share things that portray them in a good light," says Schafer. "Sharing a photo of a cute dog or cat makes them look sensitive. A humorous photo makes them look funny. In many ways, we define ourselves by the content that we share."
Whether or not they’re image-based, the posts that do best tend to be more timely and relevant to what people are currently talking about in social media. Deep Focus uses tools such as SocialFlow to keep on the pulse of what’s hot and to post content that people are most likely to share.
"Our job is to get closer to cultural moments and to produce content at the speed of culture. It’s up to us to be relevant to people based on what they’re already sharing," says Schafer.
Although it’s unlikely that real-time marketing will ever replace traditional campaigns, it’s clear that it’s going to be a bigger part of the marketing mix. As Schafer points out, "Historically, brands have been very campaign oriented, but brands are learning that they need to always be on."