Payal Shah Karwa

The mutation of content marketing

It has gone way past paid 'viral' videos. A look at other popular formats and how brands are using them.

The digital world of marketing is mutating fast. On a cold Thursday afternoon last week, as I was scrolling through Instagram, I chanced upon this uber cool reel by social media influencer Viraj Ghelani - ‘If Gujjus go on an adventure with Grylls’. It was a spoof on how we Gujaratis would travel for the Bear Grylls’ show. But wait! The reel was not just a parody, but actually a promotion of Vicky Kaushal’s episode of Man Vs Wild. And it was hilarious! He had managed to pull this off pretty well. How?

He had cleverly integrated the brand message in his trademark style, plus he had won over 67000 views and 200 comments, organically.

This is it, gentlemen and ladies. Welcome to the new era of content marketing where paid ‘viral’ videos are passe and modern methods like influencer content, memes, podcasts, camera marketing are trending. A quick scan on each of these and how some brands are using it.

What are the ‘pods’?

Heard of podcasting (pun intended)? This is already a global trend with top brands creating their own podcasts to build a rapport with listeners. For instance, Microsoft’s .future and McDonald’s The Sauce.

"Brands like Cred and Aditya Birla MF have created podcasts to educate listeners. Brands are either creating their own audio content or partnering with popular podcasts."

Back home, the podcast audience is touted to be 176 million by 2023, as per the PwC 2020 report. Little wonder that brands like Cred have partnered with IVM to produce their finance related podcast. In fact, even Aditya Birla Mutual fund has its own Hindi podcast to educate listeners. So partnering with existing popular podcasts or creating your own episodes is in vogue as a content marketing tool.

Payal Shah Karwa
Payal Shah Karwa

Tic Toc Toe-ing the line with Influencer Marketing

After Tik Tok, a new chapter in influencer marketing started with Insta reels and apps like Moj or TakaTak lending a new boost to influencers who connect with today’s audiences. And this industry is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 25% till 2025, making it an INR 2,200-crore industry, according to the India Influencer Marketing Report.

Talented content creators like Viraj Ghelani or Dolly Singh are ruling the roost on platforms like Insta with over 1 million followers and an ER of over 9 per cent, due credit to their ‘tongue-in-cheeky’ stories that connect with the younger audience. And now brands are lining up to collaborate with them to reach out to this audience. For example, Nykaa recently did a promo with Dolly in one of her BFF videos which gained over 1 lakh views within 2 weeks.

Though influencer marketing is the in thing, it needs to be tackled smartly in terms of context and storytelling. If not done right, it can be pretty trite. For instance, Amazon did one with Dolly and actress Nusrat to promote the new horror flick - Chhori. But IMO, it was too controlled by the brand, and turned out to be ‘horror’ible in an attempt to be humorous. I prefer Dolly in her natural flow. Sometimes brands need to let go rather than stay too scripted.

"Though influencer marketing is popular, the context and storytelling has to be appropriate. If not done right it can come across as trite."

There are several options out there like mommy micro-influencer networks used by brands like Sirona Hygiene. Or stand up comic artists used by brands like Bombay Shaving Company.

Besides bigger brands, even startups can wisely use the right Influencers to reach their exact target audience. Go where your audience is without burning a hole in your pocket.

Lights, Camera, Marketing!

The new lens on the block - camera marketing - could be the crown prince. Simply put, it is the use of AR or VR filters by brands on platforms like Snapchat. Brands can use AR tech on original camera content shot by the user to enhance the visual experience or sell its products too. Imagine a virtual retail store online where the user can click their picture and try on the latest Winter collection through AR-created images, without actually trying them on!

"The new kid on the block is camera marketing. Simply put, it is the use of AR or VR filters by brands on platforms such as Snapchat. "

It’s not science-fiction exactly because Lego and Snapchat just opened an AR enabled pop-up retail store and sold clothes without housing a single piece of clothing, using only camera marketing. How did that work? The ‘store’ had a plinth-posted Snapcode that let users shop virtually on their phone, and it gave a sneak peek to the exclusive collection.

Are Indian brands trying this new tech out? Recently, Cadbury’s ChocoBakes tried an AR filter of a Cookie-eclipse on the occasion of a Solar eclipse. Not exactly award winning material, but at least they tried. So, I think camera marketing is at a very nascent stage here, but categories like fashion and make-up brands have immense potential to maximise it.

Chat Shows

Bingo’s Comedy Adda, McDowell’s No 1 Yaari Jam with Rana Dagubatti, and Flipkart Originals Talk Shows are examples of how brands seem to have picked up this new content format of a chat show, recently. With IMBd ratings between 7 and 9, some of these have struck a chord with audiences. Ranging from Bollywood Masala, fashion, finance or simple friendship, the brands have found a new storytelling style to integrate their brand in the lifestyle of their audience.

The Meme Heist

But in the end, it is Meme Marketing that steals the show. Byte-sized and witty content that plays on viral trends certainly has a way of being more powerful than the long form formats. Nestle’s ‘auqat’ meme, Edelweiss’ Tokio Life Insurance ‘Thoda aur Khayaal’ meme and Netflix India’s ‘Netflix is a joke’ meme campaign are some examples to go by. Here’s what is making brands going mad about memes - 1) owing to the lockdown, meme impressions have gone up from 19.8 million in August 2019 to 24.9M in July 2020, which is a decent 26% rise. 2) Brands are getting as much as 60% organic engagement. Bella Ciao, old content marketing tools.

It’s pretty impressive how content marketing is evolving and becoming more democratic. Brands are learning to shift from the traditional, tear-jerking videos to more fun and positive emotions. And that’s what I love about content. Its squeezing our creative juices more than ever.

Reset your content marketing button, adapt these new creating content formats and have lots of fun along the way!

(Payal Shah Karwa is the Content Director and founder at The Word Jockey. Her content agency is a member of afaqs! Marketplace.)

(Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels)

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