To avoid misleading customers, or simply through fear of legal backlash, advertising has evolved to hide the potential shortcomings of an offer in its disclaimer.
Brands looking for authentic audience and social engagement must produce content that triggers an emotional response then get out of the way of interaction, according to Buzzfeed’s executive director of international strategy.
Speaking at the Mumbrella360 conference in Sydney today, Keith Hernandez said brands should be thinking on a personal or “human" level in order to interact with consumers. As an example, he said Buzzfeed posts fit into one of five categories that all trigger an emotional response: Inspiration, identity, helpful tips, capturing the moment, and humour.
“Capture the zeitgeist,” he said, referring to a post by a collaborative post from ING regarding the recent Federal Budget, and what it means for the Australian public. “Make it a social commentary about sharing with friends and real interaction, so it's not just about the content.”
Hernandez stressed the importance of sharing as the metric of success, and said 75 per cent of Buzzfeed’s website traffic comes from links posted on social media.
But while brands need to be inserting themselves into the conversation, it’s important to know when to step back from the story, he said.
“Nobody wants to be best friends with a brand... so start the conversation, and then leave it alone,” Hernandez said. “Tell a great story and then get out of the way.”
He also noted how brands still don't think big enough when trying to reach social audiences, claiming “social is local and global... the Internet is universal” and that if “publishers are thinking global, brands should too”.
Buzzfeed has begun working with brands to developed custom social videos, with most averaging over a million views. Hernandez said the success is in its shareability.
“If the audience openly acknowledges content as an advertisement or sponsored content but it's funny or interesting enough to share, that's a success,” he claimed. Examples of popular custom videos include Purina's Cats guide to taking care of your human and GE's Are you a visual thinker?
Another avenue brands are taking is via Buzzfeed quizzes, which recently started taking off via social media, said Hernandez. Volkswagon used this to its benefit with a recent What breed of dog are you? quiz campaign where consumers could compare different cars to different dog breeds.
Popular HBO series, Game of Thrones also created a quiz entitled How would you die in Game of Thrones.
The common thread is the human connection, he said.
“Be human,” Hernandez added. “Use the litmus test, and ask yourself: Would I share this with my friends?”
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