The Secret to Winning Social-first Content is Ditching Traditional Production Models, says Movement Strategy



Daley and Mitchell came together during #SMWNYC to discuss best practices for strategizing social-first tactics and what new production models they’ve tapped into that drove success.


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Global sportswear brand Under Armour has successfully transformed its social feeds from being advertising space to content channels. Since partnering with Jason Mitchell’s Movement Strategy, they’ve become a force on the internet by making stuff that people actually want to watch.

As times change, the world changes. Old methods and ways of doing things become repetitive and simply don’t work anymore. That fact sticks with production models. These days, brands can’t promote their product by flooding one production with media dollars and rolling it out onto all their different mediums. There’s got to be some deliberation to it. There’s got to be specificity.

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During #SMWNYC, Jack Daley from Under Armour and Mitchell talked attendees through the ways their brands have partnered to make the most of out their posts, creating targeted posts for YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and even traditional television.

People are different.

Just like different platforms have different users, so every user is different in their own way. Under Armour are trying to target specific audiences with their branded content – but even those audiences are completely different. Take a 16-year-old basketball player, a 24-year-old gym goer and a 30-year old marathoner. They’re not all going to react to an advert the same – or be tempted by the same advert. While the marathoner might want to shop Under Armour, seeing a video of a basketball player in Under Armour gear isn’t going to whet their palate. It’s the same vice versa.

There are questions that need to be answered, said Jason. These include:

  • “What nuances do we need for each audience?”
  • “How will the money be spent on connecting with the audience?”
  • “Where is the audience?”

Test and learn.

One of the most drastic changes in models is the way that both time and money are spent on creative and production of content in the modern age. If brands are still focusing on one piece of content for six months, they’re probably doing it wrong. Instead of that, the key is to roll out new stuff every single day. If it works, keep it. If it doesn’t, scrap it. The consumers won’t know any different – and less waiting time, plus more variety in posts, can only be a good thing.

Captured, not produced.

Both Jack and Jason mentioned their metric study on what works and what doesn’t – especially for Instagram. The main thing they found is that their view rate was increased by 73 percent for content that seemed ‘captured, not produced.’

By this, they were mainly referring to AGC – athlete-generated content – that is familiar with social users for being a short clip usually filmed on a phone – of the athlete taking part in their day to day routine. The point is, there’s no planning involved – and people seem to prefer real rather than staged content.

The importance of responding to the metrics that reveal indications as to what the consumers want is hardly worth mentioning. But as Jason says;

It’s so critically important that we’re producing content that people actually want to consume for the platform we’re posting on to be effective for us.

More views on the videos drives more people to the profile, and subsequently, Instagram algorithms mean that UA’s future posts will be catapulted to the top of the user’s feed – and the circle continues.

UA’s example of how they’ve worked this to their advantage is through their #UAChallenge series – where notorious athletes ‘film themselves’ doing an athletic challenge – with hardly any editing and post-production involved – and post it on Instagram as a collection of stories and a post in the feed. The quotations marks are to indicate the framing – while the athletes look like they’re holding a phone, they’re really on a professional shoot and have their hands in the air for effect. Crazy, right? But it optimizes performance because it looks more natural. This way, UA can still get their content in a clip without making it look like an advert.

Use it all.

Another tip that Daley discussed is optimization of filming time. Despite the fact that these new production techniques and ‘natural’ filming – where less of a brief is given to the athlete (or influencer) in question and instead, the cameras are left all but rolling for the entirety of the shot and the best footage is clipped out – seem like they’re only purposeful for getting exactly what you need out of a shoot, you might find that some leftover footage can be re-used for a different platform. Even multiple clips can be optimized for use on different platforms – even TV – because the new production techniques produce better, metric-boosting footage anyway. Get the most out of what you film.

Opportunistic moments.

Leaving the camera rolling and keeping it natural can lead to opportunity in two ways – one, because the influencer does or suggests something that might work for your channel – or because, when you’ve finished working on the planned content, you might have spare time left over and, if you’ve drafted other ideas into your brief, you might be able to execute them and get more content than you anticipated in your final twenty minutes. ‘Flexibility’ was their word. But preparation is always key. Storyboard your main plan out first. Make sure you have extra ideas just in case.

Consistency is key.

Finally, Daley and Mitchell mentioned their other top-performing platform. Anyone’s guess? YouTube. You’d be correct.

They found consistency to be the key takeaway from their learning curve on YouTube’s positives and negatives. A weekly cadence helped their ratings majorly – and it’s something that works with other brands too. Content consistency works as well. Take three different interview series and you’ll find that Hot Wings’ interview series, Wired’s Most Searched Questions series and similar channel versions of the same idea are the best performing of the lot. UA implemented this with their own ‘Shoot Your Shot’ series – and saw an improvement in video performance. Simple things can go a long way. But, as before, testing and learning is the way to certify it works before you commit to it.

UA and Movement Strategy’s partnership has worked wonders in improving the performance and building an audience for UA’s content. Mitchell mentioned how longer-form content on YouTube meant that some videos had an average of watch time of ‘six or seven minutes.’ And if you can get that on a ‘glorified advert’ then, well, you can do just about anything.

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