How to make your brand’s content ‘ownable’

Brands that are consistently successful in social media embrace ‘ownable content.’ Find out what this means for your company and clients—and how to pull it off.


During the 2012 Summer Olympics, there was a disturbing trend among brands in social media. On Twitter and Facebook, one brand after another would post some generic content asking people to “like” this post if they wanted the U.S. to win a gold medal in whatever sport was happening that day.

Many of the posts attracted their share of “likes,” comments, and shares, but they weren’t relevant pieces of content that spoke to the brands’ identify and purpose. In fact, they were posts that anyone could do (and several did).

It’s not necessarily wrong for brands to do this. It’s good that they’re trying to be reactive to what’s trending. But overall, such general content is lazy.

Brands that are consistently seeing success in social are creating ownable pieces of content. These are mainly graphic elements that are consistently woven into their content streams.

Oreo is a wonder example of a brand taking advantage of ownable content. Its Daily Twist campaign, in which it shares an image of an Oreo cookie, is state of the art in social content.

Here are a few tips to make your content more ownable:

1. Approach social with the brand’s greater marketing goals in mind

A recent story in Advertising Age, in which the team behind the Daily Twist campaign were interviewed, spells out its overarching strategy:

“The brand’s birthday mission, said marketing director Cindy Chen, has been to ‘help everyone around the world celebrate the kid inside.’ … ‘Daily Twist’ aims to filter the world through the ‘playful imagination of Oreo.'”

It should be obvious that a brand’s greater marketing initiatives must inform its social content, but this is obviously not always the case. Have these conversations early in the planning process, and let that inform your brainstorming sessions.

2. Determine what’s unique about your brand

There’s some aspect of any brand that makes it unique. In creating ownable content, you want to tap into that.

Grey Poupon isn’t the only mustard brand in social media. But it does a great job on Facebook by hitting on two things that make it unique among its peers: Jar shape and fanciness.

The brand has a great example of a piece of truly ownable content with a recent post that asks, “Tasteful Trivia: When using a monocle, do you prefer to keep the other eye: open OR closed?”

The question is asked in a graphic featuring Grey Poupon’s signature glass jar shape and color. None of its competitors could get away with posting something like this. But by hitting on what’s unique to the brand, Grey Poupon has come up with a great piece of content that’s fun, on brand, and shareable.

3. Writers, become BFFs with your designers

As writers, we can only do so much. Since Facebook moved to the Timeline feature, the highest performing content is always accompanied by strong imagery. That means that we have to lean more heavily on the creative people in our art departments. At the agency where I work, they’ve made some miracles out of some pretty nebulous ideas from our writers.

4. Test, measure, analyze, optimize

If you have what you think might be a good idea, test it. The nice thing about social is that if it doesn’t work today, there’s nothing that requires you to do it tomorrow. Test different types of ownable content. Your audience will tell you whether it’s successful. Based on those metrics—”likes,” comments, shares, and link clicks—you can determine whether you want to expand or cut these content streams and how much emphasis you want to put on each one.

It goes back to your goals. If you’re trying to get people to click through to your website, you have to tailor your posts to that end. If you’re trying to build brand awareness and organic growth through shares, that’s going to look different from a post aimed at garnering link clicks. That’s where your analysis comes in. Compare the numbers to the desired outcome, and tweak your graphic elements accordingly so that you’re more likely to hit those goals. It’s an ongoing process.

5. Evolve by asking: What’s next?

Periodically reassess your content streams and always be open and ready to try new things. Be adaptive. One of the most impressive aspects of Oreo’s campaign is that it doesn’t necessarily know each morning what it’s going to create that afternoon. Legal departments can make this difficult, but if you can get to the point where you’re tailoring your content to trending topics, your audience will respond well.

(Image via & via)

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