How brands can leverage content for community building

In this episode of Pepper Content’s Top of the Funnel, Natasha Puri, Content Marketing Lead at Pepper, caught up with Dipashree Das, Senior Marketer with a Global OTT Platform, to talk about the power of storytelling and content creation in crafting sustainable brands.
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Dipashree Das, Senior Marketer with a global OTT platform, and her team, have banked on a carefully executed, creative storytelling strategy to market their OTT content.

In conversation with Natasha Puri, Content Marketing Lead at Pepper, Dipashree traces the evolution of content marketing, as it came to be in recent years, noting that a consumer-centric approach is at the heart of content marketing

The initial stages: Marrying marketing with content

According to Dipashree, while she stumbled into content marketing “by serendipity, quite by accident”, she knew that marketing, branding, and entertainment, or better yet, all of the above, would be her playing field.

During her stint with NDTV, the worlds of marketing and content collided for her. In 2009, she realised the shifting attention of the world towards “snackable YouTube content” that has now evolved into “15 mins, then 16 to 20 seconds, if you are lucky.” A brand that serves the consumers’ interest would be able to hold their attention.

Storytelling at the centre of content marketing

Dipashree spoke of the importance of storytelling in weaving a brand strategy, stating “how storytelling and having a well-thought, scientific, really nuanced strategy at the core of your marketing could make a huge difference to how you launch and scale a brand.” She firmly believes, “Stories are the best way to sell stories.”

She added, “All marketers are storytellers, at least the good ones are.”

While she raves about storytelling as an optimum brand strategy, she also talks of the importance of devising an “evolved, nuanced, science-based” technique for better results.

The role of community in brand building: Tapping into people’s interests

Dipashree quoted Harley Davidson, one of the OG community brand builders, and shared that the “power of identifying people with common interests and making their brand one of the facilitators that brings them together” is never to be underestimated. She said that a lot of brands get it wrong, assuming that people come for the brand. But they come together for the shared interest and community feeling.

Dipshree Das in conversation with Natasha Puri

Community building: Rooted in history and data

Backing her beliefs with history and statistics, like the detailed marketer that she is, she explains how brands have to use community building to leverage the power of 70 million consumers joining the internet, since last year (as stated in the 2020 Google Report). She goes back to the primitive eras, citing examples of how people always dwelled in communities to feel a sense of belonging and stresses the need to adopt a similar mindset.

She says, “at the end of the day, in a hyper digitalised and increasingly polarising world, because of the physical distance and for several other reasons that we won’t go into, we are looking for a sense of belonging.” People have always come together to share stories and form communities. It is only that in the modern era, our spaces have become digitalised. A need for community building has always been there. It is up to the brands to recognize that need and leverage content to build that community.

Content marketing during the pandemic

Content marketing is always evolving as people and their interests are always changing. She notes that marketers have to also constantly evolve to stay on top of their game. We shifted to a completely different system in the pandemic.

Dipashree notes that when 70 percent of internet users say that their habits have forever changed, “it is contingent upon marketers of any form in any category to try and understand in their category that what is the change that has permeated.” Most marketers had to resort to ingenuine tactics like Google Duo using their employees to promote their content amidst the pandemic to leverage results. When people were forced to “think in the box” during the pandemic, it birthed beautiful and creative campaigns.

Dipshree Das in conversation with Natasha Puri

Relevance and Consistency: the pillars of content marketing

Dipashree points out mistakes that a new brand often makes. They are often unsure of their customer’s wants, seeing the future of their content plan, and wanting rapid results. She advised brands to tone their creative excitement with scientific data and patience.

“Content marketing is not a fling, but a marriage. And we all know what marriages are like. So, before you get into it, think about it.”

Culture Junkie and Consumer-Centric: the future of content marketing

The cookie-cutter approaches to marketing would no longer hold in the future. Dipashree states that brands have to go deeper into the culture of their consumers and customise content completely tailored to their consumers’ needs to hold their attention.

“Valuable, relevant, and consistent”, insight-driven content planning is the future of content marketing, according to Dipashree Das. She signs off by saying that brands have to be “truly consumer-centric, instead of just pretending to be.”

Edited by Megha Reddy