The Brand Strategy Research Group (BSRG) alongside others recently conducted a research project into the future of branded content. They concluded that what pulls in audiences post-internet is no longer flashy adverts, but creative and reactive content. This is no surprise given that social media is now being driven by Generation X, those born after 2000 who have grown up surrounded by computers and smartphones.
Traditional adverts are being replaced with ‘social influencers’, celebrities of the digital age who rake in epic incomes whilst promoting products to their millions of subscribers. Take Youtuber Zoe Sugg, aka ‘Zoella’, a beauty and fashion ‘vlogger’, who’s short intimate videos earned her a reported £50,000 per month last year according to an IB times report. It isn’t the adverts at the beginning of her video which earn her the majority of her income; most of them are skipped anyway. Her endorsements of products arguably count as interactive creative content. She takes a ‘hyped’ product and then discusses it with her followers, most of whom are aged between 13-17. Despite her videos having little relevant links to current events, her style of video (read: advertising technique) has contributed to her not-too-shabby following of over 10 million followers. It’s the personal, trend driven element of her video that gives her the most success.
Another symptom of Generation X is a short attention span, exasperated by short viral videos on vine, Facebook and Snapchat. Whilst informative adverts by charities rarely reach over 60,000 views, our recent viral “Still The Most Shocking Second A Day Video” surpassed 54 million views partly because of it’s appeal to young people easily drawn in by dramatic superlative titles. This can also be seen in US based creative news agency Buzzfeed. The interweaving of articles such as “Everyone’s Losing Their Shirt Over This Insanely Pretty Rainbow Highlighter” and serious exposées on Lycamobile or EU referendum coverage draw in a large audience based between 13-25. The addition of a Buzzfeed Snapchat story takes advantage of young people and their smartphones and keeps Buzzfeed on top of trending topics with daily updates.
These days young people are motivated by social media. It’s becoming less common to hear of a news event through the BBC or the Times. Instead, Facebook has released new add-ons which inform people quickly of events. The Check in app allows people in a disaster zone, or more recently after the Paris Shootings, to ‘Check In’ as safe letting loved ones know they are alive. This was hijacked by those wanting to spread awareness of the Paris Shootings quickly and express solidarity with those affected (perhaps somewhat tactlessly as their statuses detracted from those who were in actual danger).However, it was the first time that people around the world were aware of a disaster before it had even finished, and proved the power of interactive media.
The beauty of the millennials’ social media monopoly is that viral content reaches everyone regardless of social groups, and can then be passed on to the older generations. Luckily, for a generation raised on adverts, Generation X tend to ignore un-targeted advertising and react mostly to thoughtful emotive content.