“We don’t need help with content production , we already do it in house.” If I had a dollar for every time I have heard this reply after offering up my external content creation and production services, I would be able to go on a sweet sweet trip to somewhere tropical.
With the rise of content marketing and influencer prices skyrocketing over the past decade, many companies have opted for the creation of in-house content production and marketing instead of relying on agencies for running constant campaigns.
While this is an understandable business move that provides more control and swifter content material, which is crucial to compete on rapidly changing, trend-based platforms, it comes with a few downfalls.
In the end, it’s all about balancing and diversifying content creation for brands. By staying solely in one lane, businesses might shoot themselves in the foot by cutting costs and delivery times while still not achieving the competitive edge that they thought it would provide. Let’s break it down.
Social Media is about community, connecting with others and living vicariously through content. It isn’t a digital billboard as so many companies are treating it.
Organic content with real life people faces works the best way.
Just like TV advertisement like to show people who are “not a paid actor” in ads to create relatability and simulate word-of-mouth marketing, social media has real people content at its core.
For this very reason, UGC has exploded over the past two years.
Consumers are constantly smartening up to new and trending marketing hacks and tricks. Blog banners are hardly perceived anymore and just accepted background noise.
Product placements on TV are easily spotted and social media users also like to call those out. (Which can be free marketing or the general sentiment shifts into the negative.)
Perfectly curated and glossy visuals in social media feeds instantly stand out by not feeling organic. They can fall prey to the doom scroll and disappear as quickly as they appeared. This in turn means, longer campaign runs with repeated exposure to the target audience before a click might occur.
The danger with the same visuals for in-feed ads is content fatigue. Seeing the same image over and over again might increase familiarity with the brand and may entice curiosity.
It can also lead to the feeling of being annoyed.
Tiktok actually recommends changing up content every seven days for that same reason.
This means, additional and fresh content is needed on a regular basis.
In marketing, the Seven Points of Contact are often cited to created brand awareness. And with social media too, constant exposure helps build trust.
To deepen it, not only does the content need to entice, but it needs to be seen. The algorithm can be rather unpredictable at times and requires almost daily content and interactions.
A full in-house content creation team would therefore need to be able to create content while also monitoring their online platforms every day. Weekends are a great downtime for social media users, so content needs to be produced for those days as well.
Having external content creators and user-generated content creators gives brands the opportunity to generate a whole backlog of content regardless of office work times (for example also covering vacation times and having seasonal content way in advance).
This not only reduces employee work load, since social media marketing is a full time job that needs multiple people to run effectively by itself, but also helps put the focus back on optimizing marketing techniques and optimizing content created.
While running on the content churning wheels, workers tend to not be as effective at optimizing if they have to constantly switch back and forth between creative production and analytical approach.
Creative content in itself is a skill. Professional creators and influencers have honed that skill and know exactly how to tweak it to fit different stories, products, angles and trends.
Companies and brands are often highly hierarchical and regimented, which leaves them in a content bubble. It’s part confirmation bias – what works and what has been received well by the marketing team before feels safe in presenting similarly again.
And working at the brand leads to the familiar catch 22: you cannot see the forest for the trees. You are too involved with the story you want to tell that you don’t know what it’s like to hear the story without knowing the story already.
Fresh eyes can be of great advantage here, which is why outsourcing content creation can be so powerful.
On top of that, you not only get a variety of new ideas and stories that you can further tweak and integrate into your content branding and strategy to build upon. But they a variety of creators also means different backgrounds, new faces and authenticity.
UGC creators can be fans, employees or creators who k ow how to showcase a product in an organic way that fits the feed and doesn’t scream ad at first glance.
Showing different people in their homes, how they use the product throughout their day, combine looks, come up with creative usage or sing praises and maybe even give feedback on the product further helps build consumer curiosity but also opens communication.
Fellow social media users feel much more enticed to comment and share their own experience or reaction if they see someone else do it. If a brand asks directly, the message lands entirely differently.
Brands tend to forget that they are seen as “faceless” institutions out for money. Adding a range of genuine representatives that offer a place for mutual discussions or answer questions makes the consumer feel seen.
A chatbot on the website could never!
A big mistake I often see brands make on social media is handing out a detailed briefing and essentially treating their creators as talent and actors.
More often than not, this backfires, as in the famous Kim K debacle of the copied and pasted ad text on Instagram. It might lead to extra PR but can cause a lot of ridicule for brand and creator.
People know what a tailored ad text sounds like. Just as they know what unaffected speaking is.
Social media, especially with video based content like on TikTok, sees in-the-moment, unrehearsed talking to the camera stories as the most effective. It’s charming and a clear step away from overly curated and polished content overall.
The customer tastes changes and brands need to keep up. They can’t if they try to control creators and not actually use their skills and knowledge. Again, this isn’t a traditional billboard space with paid actors/models.
I am in no way saying that there is no need or space for in-house content creation or that any content creator is the best solution for effective marketing.
As always, the situation is a lot more nuanced. A good look at strategy, ideal customer hangouts and how to effectively evoke the brand voice in content marketing should inform various ways of going about it.
The general advice always is to no lay all eggs in the basket. Just as there are ad spends on magazine ads, TV commercials or billboards, there should be various funnels for social media.
And all of these need to be optimized.
Growth can only happen with constant evolvement and being open to change. Something that external voices and professional content creators for hire can bring in at a much faster and contemporary rate.
Tried and tested can only work so long on social media. And you wouldn’t want to be caught “out of touch” and fall prey to the scrolling finger. That’s not very business minded.
If you are interested in hiring me for external content creation to freshen up your feed and provide additional and bespoke resources to your visual library or to talk about how to optimise your content strategy, schedule a free connecting call with me here.