As technology has progressed and media consumption has evolved, so has advertising, and it goes far beyond simply taking a TV ad and uploading it to Facebook. Consumer attention spans grow shorter by the day, and it’s important to be able to capture their attention “mid-scroll” — and that puts more pressure than ever on your messaging and storytelling.
Customized content for the channel you’re using can grab and hold your audience’s attention, prevent “ad fatigue” and boredom, and drive traffic for multiple platforms. Let’s dig into how that happens — and the stakes of getting it right.
Pre-internet, most video advertising was through television ads. The focus was on telling a story within 15-60 seconds, with (expensive) static production focused on one narrative. There was also only one platform and aspect ratio to consider: wide TV.
On top of that, audiences were more “captive,” since most people were seeing commercials during shows they had dedicated time to watch, and ads were more generalized to appeal to the maximum number of people (who, by the way, weren’t fiddling with multiple devices and pocket computers).
Now, consumers are viewing media on dozens of different platforms, each with their own unique formats, uses, and benefits. From social media like Facebook and TikTok, to blogs, forums, and email, audiences are looking for different things — so your content should anticipate those needs. Content repurposed across channels can make a brand look outdated and out of touch, and irrelevant content can hurt a brand more than help.
Good content marketing does more than build brand identity and promote engagement; it increases customer loyalty and dollar value. 70% of consumers say customized content shows that organizations are focused on forging authentic connections.
Today’s marketing landscape offers dozens of different channels, platforms, and avenues for consumers and brands to connect with, all with different ways of personalizing content. With CPMs climbing and competition for discretionary spend fierce, your content must be customized for each platform you use. WITHIN’s Group Director of Creative Services, Tom Olivieri, elaborates, “You have to think about both the audience and intention of the platform. Get either wrong and your creative is going to miss the mark.”
For instance, Instagram is primarily focused on sharing and engaging with images and short videos, while LinkedIn often features long-form articles or content. People use YouTube for educational, entertaining, or informational videos, but they scroll through TikTok for quick, timely snippets or niche content. And of course, digital content is vastly different from print media.
Different platforms also don’t “talk” to each other well — so make sure anything you publish is formatted for the channel it’s on, and use a data platform to analyze information.
There are guidelines and suggestions for different platforms everywhere you look. From social media and influencer marketing to pay-per-click or email marketing, your content should fit the channel it lives on.
Facebook and Instagram are highly visual, timely platforms. Use bold, eye-catching colors, employ unexpected movement, and “break the plane” of the scroll to capture your audience’s attention. Since higher engagement boosts post visibility, encourage your audience to interact with your content by asking questions or using contests or challenges to promote sharing.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, often features more long-form, informative posts and caters to a more specific audience: those looking to build professional networks or achieve career goals.
Meanwhile, email marketing is often more segmented and scheduled, with a clear call to action, whether that’s visiting a website, checking out a sale, or finding information. Your email campaigns should make use of testing and targeted audiences, as well as analytics measurements to determine engagement.
A rare exception to tailoring your content, particularly on social media, is if you’re using user-generated content, or want your posts to look like UGC — but this must be intentional. Audiences are more likely to be drawn to less “polished” content if it’s perceived as authentic and from “regular people” rather than a brand.
So what sort of things should you consider regarding platform-specific content? This should go beyond just trimming videos or reformatting posts. Analyze your audience — who are they, and where do they spend their time? How much time is being given to a piece of content? A consumer might take a few minutes to read a blog or email, while Facebook studies have shown most people only spend about a second on an ad on the platform. Your goal is to hook a customer as quickly as possible — so keep in mind different time frames on different channels.
Modular content is also a successful strategy for preventing ad fatigue and building brand identity. Modular content works like building blocks: each piece can stand alone or be a part of a bigger narrative. Creative can be run as video snippets, images, or longer posts depending on where it lives.
For example, a TikTok post could be used as a teaser for a longer video on YouTube or your website. Your content should be planned out from conception to execution, to make sure your content covers as much ground as possible. The biggest thing to remember is variety — if your audience encounters your content or ads in different places, it should still grab their attention.
Tom Olivieri compares the customer experience and building brand loyalty to a relationship: “You don’t want to tell the same story on the second and third date you told on the first; if your customer sees your ads on Twitter, and then sees them on Instagram, it should be a different ‘story’ to keep them engaged.”
There are also services like Brkfst that work with both creators and brands to create video content, syndicate across social channels, and help you manage your media. These specialized agencies can help you develop authentic, unique content via testing and a network of vetted creators.
Other things to consider are color, effects, amount and placement of copy, and length. You want your ad to stand out “mid scroll,” so use and experiment with different ways of making your content pop.
All of these components can be tested, too. In addition to exponential testing for bigger metrics including likes, dislikes, and post engagement, you can also measure incremental learning to determine best practices for details like color palettes and effective CTAs .
When planning your content strategy, consider three questions: Why us? Why you? Why now?
“Why us?” identifies why your brand is special. What makes your company unique? What pain points or consumer challenges are you addressing? “Why you?” asks why your content is relevant to your audience. Why are you targeting specific audiences or demographics? “Why now?” tells consumers why they need to act now — to take advantage of a promotion, to avoid missing out on something, or to get more information.
If your organization isn’t doing in-house creative, partnering with an agency will help you navigate every step of your content strategy, from identifying your audience, developing unique, relevant creative, and conducting testing.
A consumer’s journey is never linear, and planning your multi-platform content strategy takes time, knowledge, and expertise.
Want more ideas for producing powerful channel-specific content? We’re always happy to talk.
Bex Del Pizzo Bex (she/her) is a Content Writer at WITHIN. She’s always down to talk literature, marketing trends, DEI work, anime, the MCU, Iceland, memes, mental health, LGBTQ+ rights, and other general nerdery and pop culture.