October 4, 2018

The Age of Hyper Content

People like to say that content is king and queen, but with such an overload of branded content along with all the user-generated stuff out there (not to mention TV shows, movies or music videos), is it all becoming a bit of a blur? How can any brand hope to stand out amongst all of that? Even two years ago the writing was on the wall that branded content isn’t working hard enough to capture the attention of the audience. Socialmediatoday.comwrote that “in 2016, researchers from TrackMaven examined the activity of 50 million pieces of content from around 23,000 brands across six channels – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and blogs. The study found that brand content output had increased by 35%, while engagement with that content had decreased by 17%.”

Content isn’t going away but it can do so much more than it does right now. We’re going to start seeing more examples of branded content that is more meaningful, multi-dimensional and effective. I like to call this Hyper Content, not in reference to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop pipe dream but in connection to the origins of the world wide web – hypertext. The term was coined around 55 years ago and, to quote Wikipedia, “can be used to support very complex and dynamic systems of linking and cross-referencing”. While a lot of content is passive and goes nowhere, Hyper Content is always leading to somewhere else and inspires interaction. It is dynamic and fluid. It’s not a dead piece of film that leads to a dead end. Hyper Content is alive and kicking.

Being something of a science geek, I looked at the world of physics to describe how Hyper Content looks and acts, how it connects and engages with an audience. This non-linear, dynamic approach to content ideation & creation has 3 dimensions – GRAVITY, ENERGY & MOMENTUM. Let’s dive into each of these and look at some examples:

1 – GRAVITY

Hyper Content starts with why, as Simon Sinek likes to say. Without a brand purpose, content has no meaning. It doesn’t have to be a grand purpose, not every brand needs to make the world a better place, but it needs to have a reason to exist. It can anchor everything you do and attracts potential customers into your orbit. Purpose gives the brand a role in people’s lives and when it is expressed in the right way it can become a belief system that provides a foundation for everything a brand says and does. AirBnB found their gravity a few years ago when they introduced their award-winning BELONG ANYWHERE campaign.

From a brilliantly simple idea, it has blossomed into a rallying cry for community, diversity and inclusivity. It has shaped the company just as much as how people see and experience the brand. Not everyone agrees with the result of AirBnB’s disruption, but it has changed the lives of millions of travelers and hosts.

Everything AirBnB does, from the stories it tells on social media to its host engagement strategy, is all about giving the brand an almost cult-like status. In this interview with Douglas Atkin, Global Head of Community for Airbnb, we find how how they achieved this sense of purpose for the brand.

2 – ENERGY

A lot of content is passive, it goes nowhere and gives very little to the viewer. Hyper Content has real energy that uses the brands gravity (or purpose) to slingshot the audience into taking action. A great example of a project that had huge energy, moving people to become part of the content, is the Steinlager Fight for Territory campaign – a Grand Prix winner at Spikes Asia 2018.

The Lions Rugby Tour was going to New Zealand – a once-every-12-years event. To maximize the publicity, All Blacks sponsor Steinlager found somewhere the fans and teams spent the most time: the airport. It bought every sign, in every terminal, and made them interactive. It then told its rivals Guinness – the Lion’s sponsor – that it could have the signs for free. It just had to fight for them.

3 – MOMENTUM

Just like good old hypertext that always takes you to the next link, Hyper Content has no end point. It always leads to something and can take on a life of its own. This might mean taking action, sharing, participating, creating and more. Content can be fluid, changing with each person that interacts with it, just like the AUTOADS campaign from Australia for Carsales.com.au. Another big winner at this year’s Spikes, it gives every second-hand car its own moment in the spotlight.  For a limited time, carsales offered every private seller the opportunity to have their very own big, expensive-feeling car ad, titled AutoAds.

Although it has been a little overexposed, last year’s Fearless Girl was a great example of Hyper Content that had real momentum. It became a story that had perfect timing and sparked a conversation about equal pay as well as female representation at the highest level of companies. Having real purpose, people gravitated towards it as the countless photos on Instagram and Facebook can attest. A sculpture can be as much a piece of Hyper Content as can a video or an installation.

So start thinking how your next piece of content can rise above the mundane and become Hyper Content. It may do much more than generate real results, it might even shift the world on its axis just a little.

 

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