Content brewing: smart, real-time, filtered, curated and creative
The production and distribution cycle of branded content has gone from 21 weeks (TVCs) to 21 minutes (tweets) in the past five years. Meanwhile, consumers are uploading 300 million photographs on Facebook every day (40 million on Instagram). Brands are being compelled to create new content at an alarmingly fast pace (given the rate of its consumption), and that poses a massive challenge for even the most talented content creators working at your typical digital agency today.
Enter Percolate.com, a fully comprehensive content marketing platform that allows brands to turn idea seeds into full-form content, ready to be posted onto their Facebook page, for example. Now, how is that any different from the content marketing solutions a digital agency provides as part of their retainer package? Let's take a look.
Social media is a very visual medium. Digital agencies typically employ a team of graphic designers and illustrators, some photographers and a Shutterstock account to aid production of visually appealing content. Some of these team members have a better understanding of the brand and what it stands for, compared to others.
Percolate also sources images from various sources, such as Getty Images, Shutterstock, Scripted, and Visual.ly, but before they do that, their platform incorporates the brand DNA into their algorithm so that most of the suggestions displayed are on-brand, helping cut through the clutter. As a value addition, their partnership with Aviary allows users to edit content without the need for advanced Photoshop skills using their interface.
Both digital agencies and Percolate try to make full use of user-generated content, however, Percolate offers FanBranded, a user-generated content procurement application created to simplify and streamline the curation process.
Digital agencies always claim full knowledge on every platform available out there but typically their strengths lie in some, not all. For example, most agencies understand Facebook and Twitter very well, and then they just duplicate the same content onto other sites. Percolate also covers Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, websites, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Google Plus, giving users publishing tools that allow brands to tie elements of their digital marketing content together based on the varying dynamics of each medium. Perhaps their unique advantage over digital agencies is how they are able to offer one place that ties everything together to create an actionable framework for managing content production cycles.
Content creation is mostly a human process that takes time. In addition, brands need to vet through every piece of content that goes out so concept-makers and copywriters at digital agencies struggle with short deadlines to deliver sheets of content way before they would be posted. But digital media occurs in real-time, so despite a content bank full of approved content, agencies get stuck in the vicious cycle of last-minute content creation, chasing approvals minutes before a piece of content needs to be posted. Again, it seems that Percolate's ability to allow teams to build concepts together in one (virtual) space allows for a much better publishing workflow.
Social media challenges brands who had previously become accustomed to not paying any attention to anyone but mentions of themselves. But we are now part of a digital world where production requires consumption. With digital agencies to act on their behalf, it has been the agencies' prerogative to analyse consumer trends and behaviour through content consumption, in order to suggest appropriate content strategies (to bring home more of those mentions). This has often resulted in one-off campaigns that may or may not even be culturally relevant.
To tackle this problem, Percolate asks brands to identify their brand's interests and to pay close attention to culture in real-time using their interface to allow for more sustained communications that are not only apt for global audiences but also relevant. They've also thrown in features such as data visualisations that draw patterns out of content to help brands understand what works best and why.
With ongoing campaigns, competitions, promotions, new offerings and what not, real-time, on-brand content creation that is inspired from latest trends, both from the real world as well as the virtual world is the challenge for every brand today. With Percolate, it seems that brands can now directly engage themselves with their consumers without the need to rely on their digital agency for everything.