Creativity for the Connected Age

View All

From Real-Time to Relevant

L'Oreal Paris tumblr

How brands can create quality social content that rises above the noise to become something impactful and engaging.

Contributed by:
John Mullin, Executive Producer, Mobile & Social Platforms, R/GA
Tracy Hepler, Associate Director Social Media, Mobile & Social Platforms, R/GA

Much like TV ads in the 1950s, social media has transformed the way that brands communicate. In this brave new world, marketers of all categories are turning to social content development as a way to increase awareness, drive meaningful messaging and build relationships.

We are currently living in an era where the world is making and consuming content at an unprecedented rate: 114 billion minutes per month are spent on Facebook, 40 million new photos are posted per day on Instagram, 58 million tweets are shared on Twitter and the list continues. Content is now a commodity.

Simultaneously, the consumer appetite for content is increasing. The average 18-34 year old now spends close to four hours a day on social media. The activity has become the number one online activity for all age groups (yes, even surpassing long-time number one, porn). Today, most brands understand that they do need to be on social media in some capacity. However, many are struggling to feel comfortable in this new role as publisher and content creator. Below, three common mistakes holding brands back from creating quality, engaging social content:

Missing A Greater Vision

“ Make your strategy your north star.” – PR Week, 2013

Brands need to have a clear vision and purpose when creating social content. Published content needs to ladder back to a brand’s overarching strategy. Just like with any effort, marketers should always start by defining the goals of social content creation: is it creating awareness? a perception shift? driving leads?

With a goal to connect with younger consumers and establish a more editorial voice, L’Oreal Paris created a Tumblr presence that coincided with their sponsorship of the 2014 Golden Globes. The L’Oreal Paris Golden Globes Beauty Lab drove awareness to the brand’s launch on Tumblr by sharing real-time tutorial videos and animated GIFs of the night’s red carpet looks. The Beauty Lab also helped followers recreate their favorite celebrity looks with L’Oreal Paris products, helping the brand connect with a younger audience in an authentic and relevant way. The new Tumblr site earned over 9K followers and over four million impressions making it one of the most talked-about brands of the night.

Undervaluing Content Creators

“Finding and acting on insights gleaned from social discussions requires the right combination of a clear objective, business planning, technology and most importantly, people to do the work.” – Forrester, August 2013.

Content marketing is a billion dollar industry, yet brands have only started hiring content experts to join their marketing team. Coca-Cola is an exception to this. In 2012, the company hired four full-time journalists and forty freelancers to reimagine its corporate website as a digital magazine, a collection of emotional stories that ties back to the brand.

The new site, Coca-Cola Journey, is heavily socialized, and reads more like BuzzFeed or UpWorthy than a corporate “about Coca-Cola” section. Through longer-form editorial content, Coca-Cola has created a site that connects with consumers on a more personal, relevant level through good storytelling and credible sources of information. The Coca-Cola Journey website has succeeded because Coca- Cola has invested in the people needed to produce quality social content.

Obsessing Over Real-Time

“Here’s the truth…real-time marketing is just a lot of marketers talking to other marketers.” – Forbes 2014

In 2013, real-time marketing became all the rage. Certainly, the tweet that fueled this obsession was Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” Super Bowl tweet. At the time, this execution showcased the marketing gold that could be achieved on social media when a brand combined the right content with the right moment. The power of this tweet certainly made waves; not only was it heavily awarded at Cannes, but the tweet set off a frenzy from other brands clamoring to have their “Oreo Moment,” too.

With a “publish or perish” mentality, the rest of 2013 was marked by brands engaging in real-time social content creation, which ultimately led to major gaffs like the “I have a dream tweet” from the Golf Channel on Martin Luther King Day, the insensitive 9/11 Memorial AT&T phone tweet, or the 2014 Super Bowl which saw brands desperately engaging with other brands.

These real-time fumbles taught brands that replicating Oreo’s 2013 Super Bowl success isn’t as easy as it seems.

Prior to the Super Bowl, Oreo built an engaged audience with the Daily Twist initiative, a 100 day campaign that grew and cultivated a community who was vested in Oreo’s pithy wit and commentary around topical events. Oreo’s community was primed, and the “Dunk in the Dark” tweet was more than just a “real-time” moment. The tweet was possible thanks to months of planning and a dedicated content resources team that was ready to capitalize when the moment was right.

The Winning Formula

Instead of pandering for a real-time punch line, brands are starting to act more strategically on social media, focusing on increasing the relevancy of their messaging; effectively owning the conversation and extending its impact.

To achieve this, brands are following audiences into ‘native’ lands, which takes a certain degree of risk. But the payoff is an authentic conversation that doesn’t get lost in the noise. After a botched ObamaCare launch, the Obama administration drove younger Americans to visit by featuring the President on an episode of Zach Galifianaki’s “Between Two Ferns.” By choosing such an unlikely channel for an official message, the administration was able to shift the conversation about healthcare and make their message relevant with younger viewers. Not only did the President’s appearance become viral content, but “Between Two Ferns” became’s biggest traffic driver.

Obama’s appearance on “Between Two Ferns” worked because the conversation was strategic, relevant, authentic, and high-quality. It was the right time, moment, and channel for the Obama administration to have a meaningful conversation with younger consumers.

Brands should employ a similar checklist when creating social media content: is it strategic, relevant, and authentic? And are the most qualified people producing it? By checking each item on the list, brands are positioned to create quality social content that rises above the noise to become something impactful and engaging.