NEW YORK, United States — In 2014, Paper Communications’ Drew Elliott launched his #breaktheinternet campaign featuring Kim Kardashian. Using his unique formula of "maths and magic," Elliott drove 16 million people to Paper Magazine's website in just two days.
Elliott began his career as an intern at Paper Communications and is now the co-owner and chief creative officer of the renowned New York publishing and communications company. During his career, he has established himself as an authority in creating content that connects with global audiences — and he is now sharing his insight through his online BoF education course, Digital Marketing with Drew Elliott.
“This course is for everyone who wants to get ahead in communications and marketing… whether you need a brush up, or you are just starting your career in digital,” explains Drew Elliott. Here, he shares a part of his formula in how to create content to engage your audience.
What does content mean to you?
Content is a word that is loosely thrown around. In my mind, content is a set of images and text that really tells a story and then it has a complete roll-out plan. If you can put a capsule around it, that's what content is.
Content is also just an aspect of digital marketing. While there's advertising and public relations, content is where you really hold a lot of the power. You can really tell those stories. Broaden that out, and tell something that's a little bit more robust than just a static ad.
It's using editorial thinking and putting it toward an audience. I think that most of all, the audience needs to be considered first when you are building content and that’s really, really important. It is kind of your customer conversation.
What is the first and foremost requirement when looking to engage your audience?
The number one thing is understanding your audience. That's the math side of things. You should ask questions like: What's their geographic location? What are their interests? What are they liking across social?
Understanding where they are, who they are, their ages — as much information as you can — informs what type of content they are looking for. The complexion of your audience is really going to dictate what it is that you should be making for them. Their age, for example, affects how we speak to them. Also, what they are interested in is going to be impacted by their age. Understanding the audience can help you dial into the exact target for each of those messages.
What digital tools can you use to better understand your audience?
We can find these insights using different social platforms built-in native tools. Facebook's insights are very different than Twitter's insights, which are very different to YouTube and Google's insights. Putting all of those in aggregation, you will be able to develop an audience that will be right for your project.
The social systems also give us tools where we can find people who we may not know and serve them content, which is called lookalike audiences. They are the people in social that look a bit like your customers in their behaviours, their opinions or the different things that they are choosing and liking.
How can you approach content creation to keep your audience engaged?
There are lots of different types of content that's happening. If you're a media brand, you have evergreen content that can be published at any time. You have your news churn which is happening every day and is always breaking. Then there are special projects that you're creating.
You don't have to drop everything just to do one single campaign — you can run all of these things simultaneously and you have different strategies that all line up together with one major strategy that overlooks all of those running concurrently. But make sure you don't spread yourself thin. You have to have whole teams and whole people focused on each of those areas. Make sure you're concurrently working in a way that is going to make you successful.
How did you approach engaging your audience for Paper’s Kim Kardashian cover?
The “Break the Internet” cover came out of a problem that we had internally. We knew that we had Kim Kardashian, but she had basically become ubiquitous. She has been on the cover of every magazine and has such a huge thriving social media property that we needed to show a new side of her.
We wanted to attract her audience and bring them in to the Paper brand. We needed to understand a little bit more about them, as well as how she would be seen inside of our social systems, so we did that investigation. We then asked, “What is the goal?” The goal was to break the internet or to create a digital phenomenon that would turn Paper magazine into a digital thriving property.
What I love about it is, now every time something that is extremely popular is released, someone uses that hashtag #BreakTheInternet. It always brings it back to the Paper brand.
So, once you have created your strategy, where do you go from there?
I call it SPAM, which is the process in place that enables us to really engage our audience, and this is done at scale. What SPAM means is strategy, production, amplification, and measurement. This makes up the math and magic equation.
To learn the next steps of Drew Elliott’s SPAM process to create content to engage your audience, click here to take BoF’s online Digital Marketing course.