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4 content marketing tips from ITV’s Love Island


Sam Akbari - July 11, 2018 - 0 comments

When everyone from your teenage niece to your 60-year-old boss is hooked, you know that a TV show has really made it, we look at this from a content marketing angle and analyse it for content marketers. Yep, this year’s surprise reality hit was the questionably titled Love Island, a nightly series where numerous ‘sexy singles’ (ITV’s words, not ours) vied for a place in one another’s hearts over the course of an eight-week stint in a Majorcan villa. Aside from love, airtime and OK! cover shoots, this bunch were also after the public vote – with the least funny/pretty/nice/Machiavellian ejected on a weekly basis.

That’s all great, but what does it have to do with content? How do the shenanigans of a gym-honed group of 23 year olds tell us anything about what it takes to create brilliant content?

Well, firstly, Love Island producers have done something that few can lay claim to: they’ve turned even the most sceptical of viewers into fully paid-up, shouting-about-it-on-social reality TV aficionados. They’ve managed to impress journalists from the left (Guardian) and right (Daily Mail), and in doing so they have made the show a national talking point, with everyone from former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan to Oasis rabble rouser Liam Gallagher talking about it – not to mention the panel of BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour.

What can we learn from Love Island’s success? What lessons can be applied to the complex world of content creation?

1. We’re all just looking for an emotional connection

Whether you were after a slow-burning romance, a tense love triangle or a budding bromance, Love Island had you covered. This was storytelling at its finest (or most mindless – you decide). But while the power of the narrative is universally recognised, many B2B (and some B2C) companies fail to capitalise on its value with their content, often focusing too rigidly on their products rather than their customers. With too few taking the time to present their message in imaginative content formats, it’s no wonder they struggle to pique potential customers’ interest.

Those that consistently get it right know that their audience – no matter their sector, vertical or seniority – want a beginning, middle and end. They want to be hooked from the get-go, they want to be surprised and delighted, they want to read/watch your brand’s content and actually feel something. Who does this successfully? Well, we particularly like Caterpillar’s efforts to communicate the emotional value of giant machinery, and Motorola’s campaign to give its brand a whole new purpose.

2. Everyone loves to laugh

While humorous highlights of this year’s Love Island included synchronised swimming and dodgy rap battles (yes, seriously), not every brand can expect to elicit deep belly laughs – or even half-smiles – from their (often very niche) audiences. Or so you’d think.

A multitude of big players prove that this doesn’t have to be the case. Slack does a brilliant job of making its customers and prospects smile with videos like this, while Workfront made us chuckle with this one. And while ‘funny’ might not fit in with every brand’s guidelines, it’s worth remembering that the subtle interweaving of humour into a campaign or piece of content can have far-reaching consequences – of which being memorable is only one.

3. Driving conversions is crucial – but strike when the time’s right

While gating content can generate bucket loads of leads, it can also be something of a bugbear for content-hungry users who aren’t yet true fans of your brand/product offering. After all, there’s nothing more irritating than a lengthy sign-up form or an in-your-face pop-up, particularly if you’re unsure about whether this is content that’s really worth your while.

While Love Island generated revenue with audience-appropriate advertising (e.g. lithe millennials in tiny swimsuits), it also introduced a delightful collection of Love Island personalised water bottles about halfway through the series. Call it swag, call it merch, call it what you will. The beauty of this wasn’t the water bottles themselves, but the timing of their promotion – three weeks in, when the show’s tribes of fans could talk of nothing else.

In the world of content marketing, the takeaway is clear. Timing is everything: the benefit of your content has to be evident before you even start vaguely alluding to your product or offering. Give your audience something that helps them, and only when they’re truly captivated do you start (subtly) pointing them towards your own solutions. Less me, me, me; more you, you, you.

4. Build a community of fans and keep the conversation going

Even if Love Island wasn’t your thing, it’s unlikely you missed its stratospheric rise to TV fame over the last couple of months. And this wasn’t just because every media outlet was covering it, but because channel-wise, Love Island was ubiquitous – talked about on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and everywhere in between.

What does this tell us about the creation and promotion of successful content? Well, amplification is super important. There’s little point putting effort into producing brilliant content if you’re not going to generate a buzz around it, and if – like many brands – that buzz doesn’t come organically, you’re going to have to proactively work on it.

Brands that totally ‘get’ the power of social include Cisco, Lenovo, Sprinklr and Salesforce – these guys understand that content that flies is content that resonates across multiple platforms, and speaks to its different audiences in ways they love and understand. And, as with Love Island, the savviest brands out there are those that not only kick off the conversation but continue fuelling it over time, building a level of interest that doesn’t die out with a lone tweet or Facebook post.

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