By Matt Pigott - July 22nd, 2016

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The third and final installment of our three-part series on content and the art of brand storytelling.

When it comes to contextualizing brand story, more thought needs to be given to strategy, and one of the most critical aspects of this is distribution. Think of it this way: even the most wonderful tale ever told, ever written or filmed, doesn’t amount to a can of beans if nobody ever reads or watches it.

A click, alone, is not enough

Knowing when and where to fire, to give your masterfully crafted brand story the best chances of success, requires a certain amount of diligence. Understanding which platforms work best then using those platforms effectively is the difference between your brand story reaching a thousand or a hundred thousand people. Clicks are important, but the key metric is time spent. How sticky is your site, your story, the very approach you take with your audience? How long do viewers spend luxuriating in what you have made for them?

If, as Toll Homes in the last piece in this series showed, you not only achieve high click throughs, but, because you have delivered engaging content and maintained attention span for the full length of your video content, and published it on the best platforms for your brand, the chances of your campaigns being successful are multiplied.

Be platform specific

One key thing that has changed for brands is that they now have to navigate a growing number of platforms. The time saved by technology, which has both enabled the creation of attractive content and, with the press of a ‘publish’ button, instant global interaction with that content, is negatively impacted by the superabundance of platforms to wade through, choose from and create content for. Straight out replication of content or crude repurposing won’t cut it either. Today, brands must adapt their content to meet the specific needs of each individual platform.

Discovering platform mastery

Take the Discovery Channel, the third most widely distributed cable channel in the United States, with ten sister channels. Its marketing team takes a needlepoint approach to reaching the right people with the right message at the right time. Several years ago, the company had, as many companies do, tried out the one-size-fits-all approach to digital marketing, assuming that what, for example, was good for a YouTuber was also good for a FaceBook user.

Far from being a paint-it-by-numbers solution to marketing, Discovery Channel’s marketing team learned that audience behaviors were more nuanced than they had hitherto imagined and that even the same individual using different platforms had different expectations.

The major discovery made by the brand was: embrace the platform and don’t ignore the time and place of social. Maximizing all-important ROI was all about getting customization right.

Seeking the right metrics

Discovery Communication's most recent digital network, Seeker has its focus on adventurers, explorers, and storytellers. Launched in 2015 the channel and resource already has 300million social followers.

Having a separate strategy for Facebook, Instagram and YouTube is the main reason that, within a year, Seeker had managed to draw such a large, diverse global audience. For example, when Discovery Communication’s marketing team found out that most people using Facebook scan through their posts with the sound off, and that the platform itself defaults to sound off for viewers, they had to reimagine their video content to get the most out of the platform. Video with bold lines of text to complement the images and grab attention was their chosen route was the answer.

Quick edits. Bold captions.

In a mobile-first world where people are often plugged into their headphones while looking at the screen, bold captions marked the difference between viewers ignoring the video, or turning the sound on to access a deeper experience. Powerful words with powerful images were the hook. The interesting thing is that sound being switched on became a key metric showing how well a particular piece of content worked inspiring viewers to action.

Read all about it! Or just watch the video.

Discovery News, which provides fun science content, has two million YouTube subscribers. On Facebook, the same brand has around 6.5million fans. Discovery does not deliver the same content to these two platforms. The demographics are different, the platforms are different, and the expectations of visitors are different.

Metrics revealed that visitors to these sites have different tolerance thresholds. Where YouTubers are happy to soak up dozens of videos, one after the other, their Facebook counterparts watch no more than three. All of which goes to show that, in today’s online, digital world, without data brands are flying blind.

Every story needs a platform from which to tell it

So when it comes to storytelling, crucially, it is the type of platform and the expectations of viewers will dictate video length and delivery protocols. Once the data has shown what these are it’s down to the marketing team and its ‘brand storytellers’ to present their chosen stories according to these parameters.

Importantly, brands that succeed in engaging their target audiences aren’t just telling stories; they’re adapting, amending and editing those stories to get the highest level of impact depending on which platform their content goes on. This might be as simple as taking a long-form video, say three to five minutes, and assiduously, retaining the key elements of the brand story, cutting it down to 30 seconds, or it might mean starting from scratch with a new piece of tailored content. Either way, the important thing is knowing the customers, knowing the platforms, knowing how your customers interact with your brand on those platforms and how and what they like to consume, then giving them more of what they want in ever new and innovative ways. 

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