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The future of content for brands, by Hashtag’s Reine Jalloul

Hashtag’s head of content, Reine Jalloul, looks at how high-tech and authentic content can help brands rise to the top.

The digital space is ever-growing, with various opportunities for brands to display their products
and services creatively. However, in a space already cluttered with content, brands are racing to stand out and grab their audiences’ attention. It’s important for brands to always be on the lookout for emerging digital trends, especially those that can benefit their content strategy and build on their brand equity. We are always entertained by endless streams of content, but what creative content opportunities lie on the horizon?

NFTs

If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that human existence is not bound by physical presence as
much as we thought it would be. A new space is emerging as a combination of virtual and augmented reality, which collectively is known as the metaverse. And with the metaverse came the NFTs, digital representation of real-world objects that can be sold and traded online. They allow creators to maintain their ownership rights over the content they have created. NFTs are to us what the internet was to our parents: ambiguous but a great opportunity to invest in. But how can brands take advantage of products that only exist in the virtual realm?

Much like moving their offline businesses digitally to social media and e-commerce, brands should act fast and use NFTs as part of their marketing strategies. It’s important to tie NFTs to their core product or value, and one way to do that is by commemorating an iconic product or experience. Coca-Cola’s successful collectable series, for example, included a ‘Sound Visualizer’, which exemplifies the experience of drinking a Coca-Cola, like the pop of the cap and the fizz of the soda. Brands can also cooperate with artists to create digital collectables, which they can sell but also give away in competitions, helping drive brand awareness. We will be seeing more of brands getting creative, jumping on the NFT bandwagon and incorporating them in their content strategies.

Interactive content

The average attention span for humans decreased from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8.5 seconds in 2015; imagine what that attention span will look like in another few years. In a content-cluttered digital space, brands race to grab their audiences’ interest in the first few seconds of them consuming content. That’s why we see a decline in static, text-based content, and a rise in interactive content. Interactive content gets higher engagement than static content and is shared 25 per cent more, according to outgrow.com. Social media platforms now provide users with a plethora of features that allow followers to engage with brands beyond liking, sharing, and commenting. Brands should think about getting their audience involved in their content, rather than just consuming it, which will help them discover their audience more. Instagram, for example, has rolled out interactive features like polls and quizzes on Stories, which is why audiences engage with story content more than content posted on the feed, according to socialladder.com. With social media platforms always expanding their technologies with various new features, we will see a rise in engaging content that the audience can interact with.

Storytelling content

We are seeing less sales-oriented content and more empathetic and purposeful content. Today, consumers are more conscious and shy away from content that purely sells. Instead, they are attracted to brands that put themselves in their shoes and tell a story from their perspective. And what better way to trust a brand than to hear their story or align their product with an emotional narrative? That’s why future content creation will be more empathetic. Brands should benefit from the art of telling narratives to connect their businesses with consumers, build brand credibility and establish long term relationships with them.

Transparent and authentic content

Social media platforms were created with the average user in mind, its features designed for people to easily navigate and create personalised content through a mobile phone. With the introduction of ads and the start of digital marketing, brands have jumped on the bandwagon bringing their large offline productions online. We see brands try to professionally produce content, which appears rigid and inorganic amongst a sea of real content made by real people. However, some brands adopt the user-generated content approach because it’s authentic content that doesn’t come from marketers who position products in the best light in order to sell. These types of content are more effective, according to postclick.com, and help brands stay authentic and transparent and also resonate well with consumers. For example, 83 per cent of millennials prefer to purchase from brands that align with their values, while Gen Z, is labelled as the ‘True Gen’ by mckinsey.com, for valuing self-expression and avoiding labels. That’s why brands will be soon adopting a more unbranded content approach that is produced organically with a phone rather than a professional production house.

In a fast-growing industry, brands must always be on the lookout for emerging digital trends and new technologies to better serve their purpose and grab the attention of consumers. Embracing the metaverse, interacting with their audiences and telling authentic and real stories is a great way to start as we move towards a new era of content consumption.

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