To build modern brands, we have to feed the feeds

Credit: MediaMonks
Credit: MediaMonks

Brands need to adapt the “big idea” to digital activations purpose-built for media channels.

Brands that want to be the most talked about in their category need to show up in the places where life moments increasingly happen: across multiple online channels, from social feeds, to video games to streaming platforms. 

Yet many brands continue to broadcast a “big idea.” While that may provide reach, it offers little relevance to today’s consumers, who would rather participate in conversations than passively consume a brand message. 

To reach today’s audiences, brands should “feed the feeds” with relevant content that drives impact and conversation -- and inspires audiences to act. 

Beyond the big idea

These days, brand experiences often fall further down the funnel. That’s great for CMOs trying to build loyalty, but makes it tricky to grow awareness among new audiences. It’s much easier to treat digital as a performance channel and turn to TV for guaranteed reach. 

Feeding the feeds, or seeding relevant stories across channels, can evolve the big idea beyond a one-way message. 

Don’t get me wrong: the big idea still matters. It defines who you are as a brand, what your purpose is, and how you support consumers. It establishes an editorial mindset, elevating the role of PR in an era of earned media. 

But the big idea should serve as a guide for digital strategies and activations. 

Airbnb is a great example. A series of stunts have kept the brand top of mind this year, even as a global pandemic crushes the travel industry. Last month, Will Smith put “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” mansion up for rent to celebrate the show’s 30th anniversary, giving fans a nostalgic YouTube house tour. And for Halloween, Airbnb offered customers a spooky stay in Hell, Michigan, a rental that not only made headlines, but inspired loads of social media content from guests. 

Brands that will win the next decade will create on-the-nose stunts that encourage consumers to not just to act, but participate in the conversation with content of their own. 

Evolving the creative team 

With the pace of conversation on social media, brands have to act swiftly and smartly to become part of cultural moments. Ensuring relevance at speed requires brands to evolve their creative approaches with consumer and cultural insights at the core. 

This is where influencers, content creators and brand ambassadors come into play. These people are deeply in tune with not just what will resonate with your audience, but the type of conversations and relationships you want to cultivate. 

But the work is also internal. Brands have to overcome traditional silos. Many brands split communications, PR and creative into different buckets. That approach not only fundamentally misunderstands how the big idea translates to digital, but impedes the brand’s ability to participate in cultural conversations. 

Feeding the feeds requires brands to drastically rethink their approach to creative and consumers. Integrating communications and content and proactively engaging with audiences online is a good place to start.

Jouke Vuurmans is Chief Creative Officer at MediaMonks

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