Editorial El Dorados

by Frank Delmelle - February 16, 2015

Instagram goes beyond photographs to hire journalists’, ‘Snapchat is hiring journalists to become its own publisher’, “Journalists are in demand” at Google, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, who “become enamored of the idea of hiring journalists.” Journalists - of all people - are making headlines in social spheres. How come?

The scarse apps you and I actually use on an hourly basis scramble to sign up editorial experience. Tech platforms promise advertisers El Dorado and now look – beyond algorithms – to journalists to get those dear promises delivered.

“Traditional media outlets may be continuing to lay people off,” Digiday is reporting, “at tech platforms, journalists are in demand.” “After a decade of worrying that their careers will end any day now, journalists, will take the National Truck Driving School’s phone number off the refrigerator,” Contently’s Neil Chase recently predicted, “and instead set up LinkedIn searches for leadership roles in content marketing.”

What is it that these major tech brands hope to get from the journalists they hire? Instagram found its users want to know the stories of the people behind the camera. Google, Twitter e.a. employ editors to turn their piles of data into stories. Snapchat hires journalists to establish itself as a place to consume content (for which it doesn’t just want to rely on partners).

In a way Instagram e.a. seem to draw conclusions from a key insight that started dawning among consumer brands some time ago: audiences tune out anything that bores them. To grab and hold their attention, any brand’s content needs to compete with ‘the best stories out there’. In the words of Y&R’s global planning director Sandy Thompson: “Showing beautiful imagery – alas! – doesn’t seem enough anymore.”

Brands like ING, Airbnb, Whole Foods or Dell – to name just a few – already understand this reality well. ING’s online magazine “aims to inform and inspire readers in their strategic choices.” Whole Foods serves recipes and Airbnb shares features on popular host cities, whereas Dell’s ‘Global Technology Adoption Index’, a recent ‘paid post’ in The New York Times, “outlines the barriers of entry when it comes to SME’s adopting cloud technology.”

Likewise, at These Days Y&R we’re pleased to engage our editorial profiles to re-position a telco brand as a rich source of inspiration, to design the DIY-Vines that draw in a power tool brand’s leads top-funnel, to come up with the edutaining stories convincing financial players’ audiences to subscribe etc.

As these examples suggest, two qualities in particular fuel brands’ editorial interest: brand journalists both master the art of listening and contribute the know-how to ask interesting questions. In today’s media reality, those are the skills that generate page views, reduce bounce rates, increase time spent, trigger conversions, raise recommendations, …  – in brief – reap marketing return.

Whether in a paid post, an app, a magazine, a documentary or a sponsored snap, “success or failure has come to hinge on editorial quality” (as opposed to crap).

If brands used to dream of pushing people linea recta through their funnels, these days’ techie trendsetters too now turn to editorial assets such as relevance, inspiration and their own journalists’ curiosity. Like Patagonia, Telenet, Land Rover and many more brands before them – Snapchat, Instagram and Co have come to understand they’d better tap into their audiences’ inquisitiveness to pull them towards their respective ‘El Dorados’.

How about your brand? Ready for a ride to the end of the rainbow?

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