Planning for digital content promotion

Blue Planet promo clips

This article on digital content promotion is in a series exploring technology themes from Web Summit that are relevant to media brands.  Read about the other themes here.

Digital content is now increasingly discovered through social platforms and via influencers.  So media owners must work out their tactics for digital content promotion from the very earliest stages of planning new features, and become familiar with analysing data on how previously published content was discovered.   Content creators and media brands have to review their relationship with distribution platforms like Facebook.

So what can media brands learn from programme makers, influencers and digital publishers?

Plan your digital content promotion upfront

The BBC’s natural history blockbusters, such as Blue Planet, are now planned with content promotion in mind.  Before shooting starts, creating clips for Facebook, Snapchat and WeChat is built into the plan.  (Check out examples on the BBC Earth facebook page, with some videos achieving 44m views).  Producers of major series set up partnerships with Chinese digital platforms upfront, to share content to build interest in the broadcast of the full length series. When building up IP in a series, it’s essential to have the clout to attract talent, and the funds to invest in new filming technology.


Watch the data and also look for the story behind sharing

Buzzfeed drives traffic through sharing on Facebook.  With 600 pieces of content published per day, they need to look hard at data on what drives high volumes of shares.  But there is often a complex story behind the share, so it’s key to also analyse the comments and the reasons for sharing content.  Buzzfeed have learnt that there is often an emotion behind the share, so they then look for other pieces of content that evoke a similar emotion.


Successful influencers test and learn to grow audience

It may appear that influencers’ growth in audience reach is all down to luck, but Julius Dean (15 million followers) believes it’s more about learning.  He creates different styles of content for different platforms:  Facebook video has to grab attention in the first few seconds, while You Tube can be more leisurely.  Plus subtitled, vertical format video works best on mobile.  Plus he built audience by reaching out to Facebook groups and asking group admins and commenters for shares.


Brands can ally with influencers for creative content and reach

Brands and agencies are collaborating with social media influencers to co-create content and expand to new audiences.  The skill is in selecting an influencer who reaches the right audience and is a good creative fit.  If you get this match right, then there’s no need for close control – just allow the influencer to be creative.

Tread carefully with Facebook and Google

It’s a complex relationship between content publishers and major platforms, especially Facebook.  If the commercial deal around Instant Articles doesn’t work for publishers, they will be reluctant to publish content on the platform.  If Facebook change the news feed algorithm unilaterally, this can have a devastating impact on publisher traffic.  So the challenge is balancing how much content to share via these platforms, and building a longer term relationship with the tech giants.


So for media brands and content creators alike, digital content promotion has to be considered right at the start of the planning and creative process.  Even for features with a far smaller scope than Blue Planet, there is plenty to be learned from the BBC’s single minded approach to digital content promotion. And after the fact, in depth analysis of the stats will help uncover new insights into what content is shared, and why.


If you’d like to discuss how some of these ideas could apply to your media brand, do get in touch for a chat over the phone or over a coffee.

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About the author:

Carolyn Morgan has over twenty years experience launching, growing, buying and selling specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events. Carolyn now advises publishers large and small on their digital strategy and writes and speaks on digital publishing strategy.

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