There’s too much content. Here’s some content about it..
Quibi, dogs, and AI christmas carols
Greetings from our west coast office in Joshua Tree, where social media manager Charles the Dog is making a bid to become a Yeti brand ambassador:
Things have been busy at LHCHQ: we’re supporting a major conference for a healthcare tech organization, helping two Harvard professors launch a new book on artificial intelligence, and dropping our debut album on Spotify. And of course, doing the same thing we do every day, Pinky: keeping our fingers on the pulse of the marketing world! Nothing we’d rather be doing!
On to the content...
There’s too much content. Here’s some content about it.
At this point, this news is at least a few years old: the future of content marketing is content that doesn’t really look like marketing. Aggressive product-pushing and salesy tones feel as anachronistic as dramatic Mad Men boardroom scenes or Reagan-era pitch parties fueled by mounds of cocaine. Companies want branded work that is as good as the reported features they see in their favorite publications, the elegant influencers on their Instagram feed, or the entertaining clips on their favorite YouTube channel. Sponsored content also needs to be chameleonic, adapting to the rapidly changing technological landscape by finding in-roads with podcasting, fledgling social media platforms, voice technology, and more.
But this is all stuff we’ve heard before, and as this wisdom continues to become canonical for brands of all shapes and sizes, it will be more important for companies to be sharp and intentional with their content ideas, as well as creative. After all, branded content still needs to accomplish a specific set of marketing goals—at the end of the day, a company's CMO still typically needs to answer to the bean counters. With the horrifying size of the Internet now—with every SEO keyword overloaded with thousands of related pages, often rephrasing the same basic headline—it is becoming increasingly difficult to reverse-engineer alluring blog posts and find new angles on tried-and-true topics. So in 2020, the mandate is still to make branded content high-quality and informational, but it’s now equally important to find ways to make it more intelligently micro-targeted and personalized.
Confused? You should be. Figuring out what exactly this means in practice takes thinking outside of the box and coordinating more strategically throughout your organization. It might mean finding creators outside of the marketing world to offer perspectives that speak to segments of your customer base. It could mean being extra well-researched on the micro-influencers you partner with, or the social media platform you do so on, or the trending topic that you choose to address. It could also mean investing more in doing original research that generates valuable intellectual property for your brand. In other words, it’s probably smart to develop less broad-scale concepts if you want to find new and effective ways to corner the market.
It may seem like strategies aimed at greater specificity and a less obvious approach to driving conversions are based on a less-than-ambitious M.O.: giving up on trying to reel in the big fish in favor of picking off as many little ones as possible. In truth, though, it is the thinking brand’s route to longevity. Maintaining a specificity of vision builds up trust with audiences (consumers, customers, suckers, whatever you want to call them), results in content people might actually want to share or engage with, and therefore, works more systematically toward hard results.
It’s a lot to take in, but luckily, we’re here to help. Watch this space for Lighthouse Creative’s upcoming multi-part series on the scrappy, uncertain, and hopefully exciting future of content marketing. We’ll explore specific tactics, industries, formats and more, and demonstrate how, in so many ways, smarter, better, and more carefully targeted work will be the key to brands’ continuing growth and success in the 2020s.
Things are happening
Many companies are still struggling to figure out what it can do for them, but some luxury brands are really betting on TikTok.
Meredith Kopit Levien is expected to be named the new CEO at the New York Times, moving up from COO to take over for Mark Thompson.
What’s a Quibi? A new way to amuse yourself until you’re dead, or so says the NYT’s Dan Barry. It’s also an ambitious new media company that launches, to great fanfare, in April.
Now that Google is making third-party cookies obsolete, many advertisers will have a much harder time getting to know their customers.
What We're Listening To
Brooklyn quartet Cardboard Rocketship—featuring Lighthouse’s own Tallie Gabriel on cello and vocals—released their debut full-length this past Friday, and trust us: it is super fun, engaging, and more than worth your 40 minutes. The Rocketship style takes a few tracks to wrap your brain around: a dynamic combination of folk, country, bluegrass, blues, ‘70s pop, and indie rock. The group carries off elaborate swings between reference points effortlessly, conversationally passing lines both humorous and heartbreaking back and forth between its four vocalists, who are each distinctive in their own right. When they come together for pealing group harmonies, the classic country and bluegrass appeal comes through. Whether you like the Avett (or Stanley) Brothers, Gillian Welch, modern country like Little Big Town, classic country like the Carter Family, or clever indie-pop like Lake Street Dive and The Head and the Heart, you’ll find something to latch onto on Hyacinth.