Creating compelling marketing content is no easy task, according to Justin Andrews, co-founder and executive producer at Animus Studios, a full-stack video marketing agency. “How do we make it easier to make better content that aligns to our goals, our brand and our audience?” he said during Content Marketing Conference 2020. “A great answer, especially right now, is: By producing authentic content.”
Andrews defines authentic content as infusing your brand’s personal style in an impactful, honest and trustworthy way. He added that creating authentic content requires a willingness to not be afraid. “You have to recognize that there is a certain population that is not your audience and that will not like your marketing, so produce content that is bold, interesting and authentic to the audience that you’re actually targeting—and don’t be afraid of doing that.” He added, “Let some people hate it; produce content that your audience will love.”
He offered up some hard and fast rules about what not to do when creating authentic content:
- Don’t use fake testimonials – The only exception is if you’re doing it in a way that is intended to be funny and authentic to your brand—and your audience is aware of that.
- Don’t make non-actors act – People tend to struggle with reading scripts that aren’t in their own words or that they contributed to writing and editing.
- Don’t exaggerate – While it’s okay to be aspirational and put out a message of where you’re headed, it’s important not to be inauthentic or fake.
- Don’t use perfect English. In videos, you don’t need to speak in the same way that you write in a product description. Instead of being overly eloquent, he suggests that you should should “talk like a human.”
- Don’t make false promises – Always underpromise and overdeliver, because people will “sniff out” what is fake.
- Don’t aim for perfection – Part of being authentic is realizing that even if you make the best piece of content, 80 percent might love it and the rest could hate it.
- Don’t act too important – You shouldn’t act like you have all the answers, because that’s often a recipe for producing content that isn’t aligned to the brand or the audience.
- Don’t let your ego get in the way – You have to be able to separate the things that you love from the things that also are good for the brand.
So then what do you need to create authentic content? Andrews offered four key components.
Know your brand
The first step toward creating video content that is authentic to your brand is to actually know your brand—including your mission, what you stand for and the challenges your brand solves.
He suggests scheduling a meeting, including key stakeholders as well as people you might not traditionally invite, to define what is authentic to your brand. Ask questions about what your brand looks like, sounds like and what famous character your brand would be to keep the conversation flowing.
“It’s very important to have your brand worked out and clearly understood by all because it’s your brand who’s actually the author of all of this content,” he said. “The final test for launching a piece of content should be: Would our brand, would our character, put this piece of content out into the world?”
Know your audience
Understanding your audience can be just as important as understanding your brand. Andrews suggests scheduling video conference interviews with five customers to find out who they are, where they are, what they care about, how they buy and what kind of content they consume along the journey.
He also suggests taking notes, recording the sessions and transcribing them if you can. “That might give you a better sense of how they talk, and you might want to work with some of that language in writing content. You can learn a lot from your customers.”
Create a culture
He said the best way to create authentic content is to “create a culture where you’re focused on curating great authentic stories.”
To do this, Andrews suggests scheduling a creative meeting to inspire your team and other invited attendees to brainstorm and share. He also suggests encouraging “weird brainstorming” and challenging attendees to look for inspiration in the world around them on the way to work, at coffee shops, from other industries and really anywhere they might come across inspiring ideas. “You want to inspire people to think and get creative and loosen up a little bit, so that there’s not a rigidity around what your content has to be,” he said, adding that you should track the ideas that come up that resonate with your brand in a form, spreadsheet or board.
Filter and commit
Once you have a lot of content, you have to filter it to find “the fascinating content your fans will love,” according to Andrews.
He suggests scheduling a review with a smaller team, then adding detail to the top three ideas (including imagery) and creating a simple scoring rubric to help you decide.
And then once you’re ready with an idea, you need to be able to commit to it. “You need to get the idea to where it needs to be, and then not be afraid to get messy and make it happen—and have a blast doing it. If you’re not having fun doing the work that you need to be doing, it’s hard to be authentic and genuine.”
As part of the commitment, he suggests taking out your calendar and scheduling a deadline for a new campaign or piece of content. And he adds that while it’s also important to craft your story and production plan, you should also be ready to pivot. “The best plan is where you’re confident and comfortable enough to improv, adapt and go with the flow.”
Marketers have a “superpower,” according to Andrews. “Put it to use, make authentic content, make content that you’re proud of, that your brand is proud of and that your audience actually likes to consume.”
For tips on how to use your smartphone to create video content, check out the Hightail blog post, 5 steps to create videos on your smartphone. Ready to get started on an authentic video project, and need to collaborate? You can use Hightail to easily leave precise feedback on videos, without needing to write down time stamps.