A Window into Brandopolis

With the construction of our cityscape coming to a close, who better to talk us through the multimedia report than the writer herself, Lydia Laurenson.

Take a look at the video as Lydia talks you through the four key pillars of Brandopolis and what you can expect ahead of its launch this Wednesday 23rd October. You'll find the transcript just below and you can sign up here to receive access to the full thing first.

DistilledLive | A Window into Brandopolis with Lydia Laurenson

Hi, my name is Lydia Laurenson. I am a journalist and analyst, and I'm visiting DistilledLive today because Distilled had me write their recent Brandopolis report.

It was very exciting for me to get this assignment, because it gave me the chance to hunt down stories about content strategy at top brands. I do a lot of content strategy myself as well as writing articles. So it was really cool to be able to do a lot of interviews, and desk research, and stuff like that about how really major brands are doing content online. Some of the brands that I talked to included General Electric, Coca-Cola, Dell, SAP, L'Oreal, and others. It's all going to be in the Brandopolis report, which is going to be released this month, October.

I divided the Brandopolis report into four sections. In the first section, I was really just talking about content and social ecosystems, what they are and what they mean. The idea of a brand ecosystem has really been thrown around a lot lately, which I think is happening because it's a really great idea, and it is the perfect word for what we're seeing online, where we're really seeing ways to track all parts of the cycle and all the different feedback areas and loops that are inherent with the brand's relationship with their customer.

There are really two ways that people talk about brand ecosystems. Facebook is a really good way to talk about those two different approaches to a brand ecosystem. One thing is that brands will have a page on Facebook. That means that that's their presence in the Facebook brand ecosystem.

Then, the other way of thinking about it is that Facebook is itself both a brand and an ecosystem. Facebook has all these users that sort of create Facebook since it's a social network, and they also have to manage different brands, different marketers, and different people who work for those brands, like people who are hired to make pages, people who make apps, stuff like that. It's the perfect example of what an ecosystem is and how every aspect of it feeds into every other aspect.

Smart brands have been working on ecosystems for a while and have really seen the potential since the beginning. Dell is a great example. They started their IdeaStorm website years ago before social was really even a thing for brands. They wanted to make a website where people could contribute their technical insights and ideas to Dell. At this point, the IdeaStorm website is this place where they have this thriving community of people who all contribute ideas. They talk about those ideas. The really good ideas get developed into bigger ideas in conversation with a Dell representative.

Other brands are doing this, often not as well as Dell. But many, many brands are doing the same thing, where they're just trying to harness the enthusiasm of their audience and figure out how to get them to contribute their ideas directly to the brand instead of complaining off in a corner of the Internet or something like that.

The second section was early adopter stories, which I think are really interesting, because early adoption of social platforms is still poorly understood. We don't completely know what's going to make a social platform succeed or a content platform succeed or fail. So it was cool to talk to these different brands that really did a good job of getting in early and working with other innovators on these platforms or creating their own innovative, unusual content early in the platform's life cycle.

An example would be SAP, the business and software brand, which worked with Forbes, which is like a technology journalism site. Forbes introduced this content platform called BrandVoice where they allowed brands to buy blogs on the Forbes website.

SAP was number one on the Forbes BrandVoice platform. They bought the first blog, and they started having their thought leaders create content to go on this blog. The content has been really good, which means lots of Forbes readers have read it and told other people about it. As a result, SAP has gotten tons of exposure from this blog on the Forbes platform.

There are a whole bunch of different issues wrapped up in being an early adopter. One of those, which I think is really well-reflected in the SAP/Forbes relationship, is that sometimes it's really controversial to be an early adopter.

So SAP really had to field a lot of criticism and so did Forbes. Both SAP and Forbes had to field a lot of criticism for this sponsored content they were creating on the Forbes platform, because a lot of people feel like journalistic sites shouldn't be selling articles to brands. They should only be selling ads or whatever, the kinds of things that we're used to from newspapers, where you have all the ads in a separate place and it's not affecting the content.

Forbes and SAP have together talked to a lot of critics, and SAP has really taken that on as part of this project of being an early adopter. That's one thing that you really need to keep in mind if you're going to be an early adopter. I talk about that and other issues in Brandopolis.

The third section of Brandopolis is all about brands as publishers. If you're in content marketing, you totally know what I'm talking about when I say brands as publishers. So I won't dwell too much on the kind of stuff that I talk about in that section. It's mostly how brands are measuring their content, what it means to be a publisher, to be hiring journalists, and stuff like that.

Then, section four I called hypercontextual, because it's all about how contextual this content can get and how it can really augment a very specific activity or location. For example, L'Oreal, the makeup megabrand, is amazing at this. They've made all kinds of apps, and their sub-brands have made all kinds of apps.

One example is that one of their sub-brands made an app where you look at your fingernails through your cell phone view finder, and you can change the nail color on your fingernails to different nail colors that are being put out by this makeup brand.

Another example is an app that they released as part of an arts festival in Toronto, where people who go to this arts festival can get this app. Through the app they get a gallery that they can view only in a specific town square in Toronto during this arts festival. So they really got to emphasize their artistic side, their design side. They got to interface with these people who were at this arts festival and really kind of hook into that locational idea.

That's just an example of some of the content that's in this content strategy report. There are lots more stories. I really had a good time writing it.

Please, if you take a look at it, feel free to get in touch with me and let me know what you thought. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

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