Meta’s new culture codes are the official line in the sand for brands to get with it, stay relevant, and learn what TikTok is before gen-z takes over. If Meta says times are changing, we reset our watches. But how can brands embrace culture codes and up their content without losing their core message? How do brands jump on trends without seeming desperate, doing the wrong thing, or worse, looking like an agency has done everything for them?
We’re fascinated by the world of branded content, organic trends and unpicking exactly why some things do well while others don’t. And we’ve been noticing the brands, old and young, that are on board with new culture codes and are making them work. Here’s the scoop on authentic content.
Content is becoming increasingly casual, in look and feel as well as tone. What does this look like in reality? Brands are moving away from formula and rigidity, ditching call to actions and, in many cases, capital letters. When reading their content, it’s casual – but also puts you immediately at ease. Not everything has to be a statement. In this day and age, making someone smile before they scroll will do.
Call it like-fodder or boring, but brands who are loosening up on the way things look, and the notion that every post has to have inherent meaning, are cleaning up on social.
With the wave of more casual content, we’re noticing brands turn to increasingly lo-fi production values with their content. Why? Because it’s authentic, engaging and relatable. In a hurried scroll, an onlooker might think someone they know might be posting about something, and you can’t put a price on this kind of social currency.
Do multi-million dollar makeup companies, $100m valuation startups and nutrition companies with £6 ready meals truly have no budget for slick graphics? Of course they do. But uncomplicated design with a handmade feel and shaky videos of people heating up lunch do the job just fine, and with a sense of relatability money just can’t buy.
And this isn’t just a TikTok thing, increasingly, brands are caring less about a perfectly curated feed in favour of something more ad-hoc and relaxed. As the kids would say, Instagram is in its ‘flop era’. With short-form video on the rise, and short-form attention spans rising higher – brands are turning their attention to quantity over quality – but unlike your homework at school, it kind of works.
Free reign for marketing execs
Does this mean that marketing is dead? Should companies fire their marketing execs, agencies and talent in favour of a shaky-handed ‘photo dump’ every other day?
Of course not! But perhaps the five-stage approval process is done. In the past, companies like M&S would have kept a tight leash on their social media presence, with regional or spin-off accounts strictly banned. Now? It’s a key part of their content strategy, with their Romford team leading the way – and even being featured in their Christmas marketing. Content that seems a bit ‘naughty’ and unsanctioned is funny and allows users to build a connection with the stars and humans behind a brand.
The personification of the brand
Speaking of humans behind the brand, we’re noticing an increase in brands letting their executives come to the front, often, with funny results. Tactics like blatantly asking for likes, pulling the curtain and exposing the mechanics behind the brand are not crass, but humanising. The ‘controversy’ invites engagement from onlookers who are savvy enough to be in on the joke, but interested enough to retweet with something witty like; “Someone at Specsavers is getting fired for this!”
Are you as obsessed by trends and marketing as we are? We are recruiting at a number of different levels to join our excellent team of Storytellers. We’ve grown from two to ten people in less than two years, and we have an ambition to be the best small agency in the UK. If you want to have the freedom to do great work, join us on our journey.
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