Stop Thinking Content First

In an age of voice activation and intelligent assistants, developing an integrated connections idea and identifying the need for creating content is changing the publishing process, says UM’s Rob Hersey.

There are 95 million photos and videos being posted on Instagram every day, 300 hours of video content being uploaded to YouTube every minute, and 3 billion snaps created per day. It’s safe to say there’s no shortage of content which begs the question, does the world really need more?

As Creative Director for UM Studios, creating content across some of UM’s biggest brands, this may seem like a pretty radical question. On the contrary, it’s not about creating less content, it’s about making sure we are identifying the right approach that will help inform the type of content we are creating.

With so many channels and formats it’s easy to go straight to saying things like “let’s use influencers,” or “let’s create a series of long form vignettes on YouTube” or “ooh, how about 6 second videos? Those are slick!” The real challenge is identifying why we need this content to begin with. What’s the powerful insight or idea that can inform the role of content? With that said, if we’re leading with content first, we could be missing the larger point – and critical steps in between.

Upon writing this, I happened to attend an Advertising Week panel discussion called “Substance Will Be Viral” where Armando Turco, General Manager, Vox Creative, Jeannie Chu, VP Global Brand Content for American Express, and Alex Bodman, Global Creative Director for Spotify discussed this very issue.

In the session, they addressed the fact that there is a disproportionate amount of poor content to premium content and that maybe we should reevaluate both the volume of content, and its purpose in the first place. It was a serendipitous moment of “Yes! This is exactly what I’ve been taking about. I’m so relieved I’m not the only content person that thinks this.”

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