During a recent Digital LA panel in Hollywood last month, entertainment minds gathered to discuss how the independent film industry created branded entertainment. As avid readers of FMM, we don’t have to tell you that the sources for inspiration and knowledge often lay outside of our own industry. When was the last time you explored other verticals? Well, here’s what I learned some some of the most colorful characters in Hollywood Entertainment.
Entertainment is continually shifting towards online mediums. How you translate traditional ways of producing shows to gain the online attention without interrupting the experience is becoming an art in all facets of lifestyle marketing – Macala Wright
Six Tips For Successful Branded Entertainment
- When it comes to created branded entertainment that sells, you have to have edgy, provocative content. Creating successful content starts with personal life experiences. Take the things that have happened to you and build them into your narrative; it makes your work unique. Why? Because no one can be you. Make it reflective of who you are, then you’ll get the investment from the people you need to make the dream a reality.
- Learning your craft, and honing your voice. Tying into the first step, always know your voice, know your core. Always operate from the indie mindset and stay in the trenches, it keeps you on course. Remember, you’re in this for the long haul. Even if you evolve your brand to the point that you’re getting money left and right, operate like a start-up.
- Social Media and DIY are your best friends and marketing tools. Find your passion, find the audience that loves your passion and kill them through tireless, beautifully curated, created content. Then push it out and find new, innovative ways to get yourself out there. DIY, baby – art shows, conventions, seminars and panels, do anything that helps you get your name out there. Start with what you do really well and your work will come through in the project.
- Test new distribution channels regularly. Syndication companies are great, but test new channels regularly. If you find something that sticks, build it into your brand marketing and content syndication strategy. You can work with partners to test new audiences, but make sure you’re coming up with partnerships that fit what you’re working on.
- Fail your way to success. It’s a statement all entrepreneurs seem share, but it’s true. As indie content creators and professionals, we need to learn more from your failures than successes; if you don’t, there’s something WRONG. What you’re doing and creating better be interwoven into your being. If you are persistent and dedicated – you’ll eventually reach your call. If you’re not, you’ll fall by the wayside and won’t be known or remembered.
- Make sure the message fits the medium. Start with the concept, then make the content of the concept fit the medium you’re looking to express it in. No matter what you develop, make it heavily visual. You must take time to plan and develop your concept. As in fashion, it’s better to measure 1,000 times and cut once than just go off the cuff. You’ll end up with something hideous and haphazard looking.
How Content Creators + Large Sponsors Create Mutually Beneficial Relationships
When it comes to branded entertainment, there are always too many cooks in the kitchen. Trying to integrate multiple messages with multiple partners is the biggest challenge for independent content producers.
Overall, the night was an amazing evening and here was my advice for making brands and indie producer relationships successful (very similar to fashion bloggers and brands):
- Let the BRAND/SPONSOR come up with concept.
- Let the CONTENT CREATORS/PRODUCERS write the script and handle the production; let them integrate the brand messaging, fit the brand logos and creative into their mediums. Content creators and producers can spin your message and weave it to make it work better. Why? Because no one knows their audience better than they do. They will know what will”click” or “resonate” best with them.
- Meanwhile, CONTENT CREATORS need to look for the message behind what the brand hands them. Why are they asking you to do a certain thing? All brands have different integration requests, some what product, some what headline titles and some what alignment with no products or anything, they want association with the overall audience’s lifestyle. Find out what’s behind their requests and work to that intelligence into what you’re producing for them.
- Remember key buzz terms like co-collaboration, co-creation (what floats your content boat). Brands have to work with indie producers to get the best result.
- When content creators and brands work together, remember that niches are the most compelling places to be; that’s why these robust online communities exist! Tailor your message to create experiences amongst a small number verses millions. If you do, you’ll most likely reach millions through the emotional connection you made with a few (see my last article on social influence).
- UCG (User Generated Content) is a blessing and a curse; you have to embrace to a degree. While there are risks associated by turning fans into content contributors, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Retailers like Lululemon, Nike, PUMA and LXD are perfect examples of this; by empowering their consumers and making them feel like they contribute to something of value, these brands fuel interaction from online audiences that consist of current brand enthusiasts, customers or soon to be converts. Big brands have to decide how much control they want to give up. But let’s me make a case for a lighter hand on the reigns. We’ve always structured reality of consumers via traditional forms of marketing and advertising; we’re now structuring reality in different way.
- Social networks urge all consumers to be themselves (or really the people they perceive themselves to be) online. We have much better opportunities to talk to that ASPIRATIONAL self in digital mediums because they can actively become part of something. Now that the brand will speak back in the form of a simple retweet or Facebook comment drives consumers deeper into the brand experience. The digital content leads to connection with the brand that leads to online and offline commerce.
Branded Content ROI – It’s not investment, it’s innovation. – What are you trying to measure?
According to Shop.org’s Social Commerce Study, 42 percent of online consumers have “followed” a retailer proactively through Facebook, Twitter or a retailer’s blog, and the average person follows about six retailers. The amount of time spent engaging with the content those brands produce is dependent on the type of content and what the purpose of the content is. But overall, online audiences do engage with branded entertainment and content, and all of them share content that speaks to them. So how are you engaging and delighting your target online audiences? Are they responding?
Retail Stats On Social Commerce & Content
Social Sharing & Distribution of Content