SXSW: How to Not Sabotage Your Content.

As more brands embrace content as a strategy, they're finding new opportunities to reach audiences—if they don’t sabotage themselves first, that is. An #SXSW panel explores.

Matthew Klein
March 18, 2015 - 3 min. read

Content marketing is one of the most talked about topics at SXSW this year. It’s not the first year that’s been the case, and it probably won’t be the last: Why? Content marketing is a major shift for most brands, and everyone is still trying to figure it out. We already looked at a panel that discussed the distinction between ads and content, which is getting fuzzier every minute. 

We popped into what seemed like the most crowded panel at the whole festival: Are Brands Sabotaging Their Own Content? It featured Seth Coffrin, media strategy group manager at Target, Alyssa Vitrano, Content Strategist at Federated Media, Emily Luger, Program Architect at Team Detroit, Liz McDonnell, director of marketing for the New York Times.

The panelists came from multiple sides of the media equation (brand, content agency, ad agency and publisher), and between them they’ve had a great deal of content success. 

Which means they are particularly qualified to discuss major issues that still exist for a lot of brands in the content marketing space (including the possibility of self sabotage). 

A Brave New World (Of Processes)

One of the panel’s major takeaways was that a lot of big companies, even ones that now take content seriously, are having difficulties adjusting how they work, and it’s hindering their ability to create effective content on social and elsewhere.

In the eyes of the panel, content approval processes were still a significant pain point for a lot of companies—the layers of approval that companies set up, which made a lot of sense in an earlier environment—are not well suited to effective content creation in 2015.

Finding The Right Mix For Collaboration 

Brands are now creating content with an even greater number of collaborators—content agencies, publishers, even youtube stars. Managing this requires relationships that are as strong as those that existed in the days when brands had a single full-service agency, but with multiple stakeholders. Ultimately, brands need to have trust in the people they are working with, and constantly fine-tune working relationships.

The odds of producing top tier content in a quickly shifting landscape are much greater when expectations, and creative vision, are made clear from the outset.

Turn and Face the Strange

The discussion touched on how social channels have evolved and will continue to evolve. A major use of social used to be boosting content that was created for other mediums. Now, as Seth from Target asked, why wouldn’t you use content from your Instagram feed for a print ad? 

This group, like the SXSW panel on content and ads, was really a glimpse into how this will all work soon. Content marketing will just be marketing, full stop, and social channels will be integrated into all of it (but strategy and content for specific networks will still vary).


Cover photo credit: Kris Krüg

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