Our EOFY Sydney Harbour Yacht Party

To celebrate the EOFY, Newsmodo hosted clients, family and friends aboard Larry Kestelman’s yacht on a cruise around the Sydney Harbour to relax and talk content, from personal insights to industry trends. The event was a great opportunity to share knowledge and talk about the future of content marketing. 

Sydney turned on the weather as we enjoyed a seafood feast fresh from the harbour, and prepared by the crew that morning.

Brand agencies and publisher representatives from a wide variety of industries, turned out in numbers and had a chance to let their hair down and take in the breathtaking views from aboard the yacht as it did a circuit of Sydney Harbour. 

After a busy and exciting start to the first half of the year, we’re looking forward to even more opportunities to build on our success over the next 12 months. 

The Newsmodo team would like to offer big thank you ou to everyone who made the day so enjoyable, from the dedicated crew to our guests. 

The outlook is bright and we’re looking forward to announcing more events in the future. 



The Ultimate List: The Best of the Best Brands on Social Media

Need inspiration? Don’t know what content marketing trends to follow? Want to know how the top brands are using social media? 

We’ve created the ultimate best of the best list just for you. Keep reading to find out which brands are making social media work for them, and how you can make it work for you too.



The New York Times

Username: @thenytimes

If you want to learn how to use Snapchat as a storytelling platform, The New York Times account can help.


Username: @hubspotinc

Hubspot is leading the way for B2B brands showing them they can use the platform as both a marketing and recruitment channel.

Taco Bell

Username: @tacobell

Snapchat can be used for more than just behind-the-scenes footage. Taco Bell shows brands they can create quizzes, games and share events to create long-lasting relationships. 




Nike combines style, athleticism and inspiration quotes that not only inspire their followers but encourages them to take action.


This brand knows how to take the mundane and make it newsworthy, all you need to do is add humour.  


Oreo show’s how important it is to build a strong content strategy. It’s not enough to just talk about the product anymore. 




This brand shows even the most intellectual of industries can create content that speaks to people on a ‘human’ level.

National Geographic

Pictures are powerful engagement tools but so are catchy headings that leave you wanting more. National Geographic uses titles to drive traffic to their website.

Pizza Hut

Social media is all about two-way conversations. Pizza Hut knows how to talk with their customers and encourage meaningful feedback. 



Old Spice

The Old Spice brand commercials are even more famous than the product highlighting the power of tapping into pop culture.


Salesforce understands giving away free information won’t harm your brand, instead, it gives your customers a reason to keep coming back.


This brand knows what its customers’ problems are – buying unique gifts – and sets out to solve them.

How to engage your audience with creative storytelling

Joining us on Brand Storytelling this week is the Founder and Director of Anecdote, Shawn Callahan. We talk to Shawn about how his role at Anecdote, the stories that inspired his book, Putting Stories to Work and how brands are effectively telling their stories.

Before starting his work at Anecdote, Shawn’s experience included working for IBM and as a consultant. Shawn’s book, Putting Stories to Work, has earned him critical praise for his storytelling.   

Download and listen to the full show and read below for a preview of Dan’s insights. 

Subscribe to the Brand Storytelling podcast on iTunesSoundcloud, and selected Android apps.  


Rakhal Ebeli: You say on your website that you published a little insight about how you initially were against storytelling. Maybe this goes to your point around not using the S-word. How have you come around to storytelling in general? What made you change your mind?

Shawn Callahan: Part of it was just persistence on behalf of our customers. The most important part was that we decided to take an approach which was all based on real life experiences in small stories. As long as we didn’t have to craft stories and make stories up, we were happy to help people with their storytelling. The other thing too is we always said, “You have to do it for good, not evil.” I think that was the other thing that was sitting behind it.

Rakhal: That’s a great point too. When brands out there are listening to this podcast starting to dig into their own history books, what tips and tricks could you advise to actually identify great stories in their brand adventure? 

Shawn: I think part of it is actually getting out in the organization. I speak to a lot of marketing and communications groups, and they’re so busy with the business of what they do they don’t actually go and talk to the business. I don’t see them in the business spending time with how people work and what they do. You can’t find good stories by sitting in your marketing and [communications] section hoping a good story will just go past you. I think that’d be the first thing I would do.

The other thing is to be able to have that ability to spot stories. We say to a lot of people, “I have to develop this narrative intelligence where you can say, ‘That’s a story. That’s not a story.'” It’s some basic things that give it away. As soon as you hear someone say, “Just the other day-” or “Three days ago-” … We just call these time markers. If you hear a time marker, chances are you’re just about to hear a story. Of course, “Once upon a time” is the classic time marker, but as we say, “It doesn’t work so well in business.” The thing about it is just tuning your ear so that you can actually hear those stories.

Rakhal: Let’s say that you’ve discovered a few stories. How do you know or forecast which ones are going to hit the mark?

Shawn: There’s certainly a hierarchy of stories, in terms of a sense of what humans care about. It’s very biological. At the very top of the hierarchy is anything to do with death. It’s why we have so many CSI programs and detective stories, etc. Just underneath that is safety of children. Again, we want our species to continue. We have to have our children safe. We know it. As soon as you hear a story of kids being in an unsafe situation, it goes to the top of the new cycle. The third one, and this is a bit hard to build into business content and brand management in some ways, is sex. We’re very attuned to that.

The fourth one, which sits very close to that, is power. Anything to do with power. For example, that could be hierarchical power, money power, celebrity power, beauty power. All of these types of powers are actually great things that we care about and we want to actually know the stories behind it, because usually people with power can affect our lives. That’s why we want to know about stories about those things. I would start looking in those 4 spaces. I tell you what, if you can double them, triple them up, then you’ve got something that’s potentially on a bit of a skyrocket for you.

Mentioned in the show: 

Opening audio sourced from As The World Turns (April 18, 1961) 

5 Key Takeaways: 

1. Don’t use the S-word!    

2. Ask yourself, why are we doing what we’re doing? 

3. No matter the location, culture or brand. Everyone has a story to tell. 

4. Never let up once you have the lead. Just ask Michael Phelps. 

5. Tell your stories out in smaller forums before telling the world. 

Connect with Shawn on social media and visit his website: 

Twitter: @ShawnCallahan

Instagram: shawndcallahan

Website: www.anecdote.com/putting-stories-to-work

What the “digital-first model” means for quality content

Australian journalists and readers continue to feel the fallout following Fairfax’s announcement in March to make 120 full-time editorial jobs redundant across its news and business divisions. Fairfax spokespeople have said the proposed cuts were a result of the shifting and highly competitive media environment, namely declining print and advertising revenue. While Fairfax is confident in their “digital-first model” we are yet to see what this means for quality, investigative journalism.  

Where’s the money gone?

People used to depend on newspapers for more than the news: classified ads and stock-market quotations. And these, in turn, brought in money needed to fund quality journalism. Now, this “newspaper business model” has collapsed thanks to the internet.

The internet has poached most of Australia’s newspaper classified advertising, and what the online advertising brings in isn’t nearly enough to cover costs let alone the content. This doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon either, which means the money that financed quality journalism for a century has disappeared, and there’s no replacement.

Will moving online save newspapers?

While Fairfax confirms it will continue to cover key news topics, including federal politics, state politics and policy, sport, entertainment, investigations and justice, as it always has done, it has been reported that the company wants to reduce the amount of news it produces to one-third, or 6,000 articles down from 9,000.

Newspapers have also been known to deflect their print problems by boasting about the size of their online audiences compared to newspaper readerships but these numbers don’t give a clear picture. The reason why newspapers like the Age and SMH have four to five times as many online readers is because the majority of visitor’s access free information like weather updates and celebrity “ clickbait” articles. They aren’t there for “quality” journalism and they aren’t interested in paying for it, either.

Who’s reporting the facts?

The recent Paul Sheehan scandal over the incorrect reporting of a rape case story in the SMH called into question corroboration and fact-checking responsibilities. The formal review included a comprehensive examination of editorial processes and found unacceptable breaches of fundamental journalistic practice.

With significant cuts to editorial staff across Fairfax as well as reduced contributor budgets and travel costs, it seems hard to believe the remaining staff can continue to produce quality journalism. Especially with the growing pressure to produce content 24/7 to meet the demands of readers. While Fairfax’s new newsroom model will be designed to support reporters and editors to focus on great stories, videos, graphics, photos and multimedia, spokespeople for the company haven’t announced what shape and depth these stories will take.

Perhaps the question shouldn’t be: what does the “digital-first model” mean for quality content. Instead, it should be: is there a place for newspapers in our digital world at all?

How to breath life into your e-newsletter

Email marketing is still one of the most effective communication channels for marketers. But as the average attention span gets shorter, the average inbox busier, it is imperative to not send out average newsletters. 

Storytelling in e-newsletter

Many of us view email marketing as sending out targeted, segmented, sequential campaigns. But that is only the science part of it. To hook and keep readers engaged, storytelling comes into play.

You can build up suspension and expectation just like producing TV series. Examples include email courses – where marketers provide educational value to readers. A bigger umbrella term is “drip campaigns”. However, we are not discussing the technical details of how the emails are triggered here. 

Source: Pardot  
Source: Pardot  

In the context of newsletters, marketers can gradually build up value and brand familiarity through storytelling. Examples: 

  • Sharing personal stories or success stories of others.
  • Having interested and relevant themes (not just design-wise)
  • Offering irresistible freebies that tie in with the story theme. 

Don’t forget the technical side

Although obvious, many make the rookie mistake of sending out emails with broken images, dead links and so on. Thus, test if you email displays are working properly on different email clients or mobile devices. It is always a good practice to give readers the option to read plain text emails if rich HTML format is blocked. 

Source: Pronto Marketing
Source: Pronto Marketing

Unsubscription is not that bad

If you are measuring your email campaigns using vanity metrics, you will most likely lose sleep over a high unsubscribe rate or a sudden hike. 

Like open rate doesn’t give marketers a meaningful picture on it own. It is better to have a small email list of active and engaged audiences than a huge list of mildly engaged or not engaged at all contact. 

The lesson: Monitor the engagement rate with metrics such as clickthrough, conversion and bounce rates. When you notice inactive subscribers, try re-engaging them first. Otherwise, don’t be afraid to clean up your email list so that it only contains high-quality leads.

Case in point: HubSpot purged 250, 000 subscribers from its list to avoid sending out graymail – “email you technically opted in to receive but don’t really want.” They even implemented an automatic workflow that unsubscribes unengaged subscribers 

How to apply humour to your branded content

We are joined by actor and comedian Dan Ilic to talk about his upcoming projects and his experience working with publishers both home and aboard. We also discuss how brands are turning to humour to build and engage an audience through branded content. 

Dan’s resume includes Channel 10’s, The Ronnie John’s Half Hour, the ABC and the Al Jeezera Media Network. He is currently working on the ABC series, #Twitchhike which is airing through the ABC’s iVIew before moving into a role as an executive producer with the Fusion Network in Los Angeles. 

Download and listen to the full show and read below for a preview of Dan’s insights. 

Subscribe to the Brand Storytelling podcast on iTunesSoundcloud, and selected Android apps


Rakhal Ebeli: I think that that’s a great way to look at things these days particularly with the diversification of content and the many channels within which we can reach audiences. There’s no point pigeon-holing yourself in as a comedian or a content creator or a journalist these days. It’s fantastic to have so many different strings to your bow.

Dan Ilic: Well, I’ve kind of found that everything that I’ve done lately seems to be kind of coming to ahead like it’s all the experiences that I’ve had over the last 10 years in this new world extremely valuable. All of a sudden I feel like my time might be coming as a content creator and a media strategist. It’s really kind of an exciting period for someone like me.

Rakhal: Yeah. It’s been a fascinating journey I guess from on the stage to then on the screen and now, as you say within content and we’re talking about content across so many channels. I know you were the head of satirical content for AJ+ which for our listeners is Al Jazeera’s online news and current affairs channel. What did you take out of that in terms of the content that audiences are consuming these days with Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and so on?

Dan: The biggest thing I took away from that was that for people my age like I’m … I don’t know how old you are, Rakhal, but I’m 34 and realistically I’m kind of a millennial because I don’t watch television and I haven’t watched television in such a long time. The medium of television itself, it becomes this strange antiquated based that still exists for old people. What I took away from AJ+ was just how powerful Facebook is as a channel for Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera created AJ+ with the intent to broadcast itself to millennials in a brand new way by making standalone content that can sit together, that’s shareable, that plays with identity politics, that gives people something they don’t know, that enriches their lives in some way. They make it shareable and fun and interesting not just for millennials but for anybody who uses Facebook. The strategy over the last couple of years seems to have worked. What I’ve enjoyed most about my time there was being able to run any idea I wanted to and running little experiments with content to see how to retell a story a couple of different ways to see which one will get traction.

They’re very open to that kind of experimentation. Just because you made a video about something on one particular subject doesn’t mean you can’t remake it again in a different way because those videos through the algorithm will eventually find different audiences. That’s really cool. That was one of the big takeaways I took from them and also just the power of embracing video in a digital setting with text driving it, with story driving it and knowing that you can, with something very simple, you can get great results.

Rakhal: Such an exciting time for both industries and when I say both industries I’m talking about I guess the comedy industry but also the content industry because I think we’re going through an incredible phase of exploration where brands that we’re once really conservative and now opening up their doors to customers through I guess being humanising the brand and having a sense of humor. At the same time, you know, you spoke about the antiquated platform of television for old people. Now, the content and the ways that we can reach people through Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever it might be, is so diverse. When you talk about how it’s all coming to ahead for you, I’m really keen to I guess understand is that on both of those I guess sides of the fence both the comedy and what you do in that hand goes hand-in-hand with the platforms that you can distribute.

Dan: Yeah. Well, I’m about to move to Los Angeles to work for Fusion Networks in America as an executive producer of satire for them. There I’m going to be building products not just for their Facebook video channels but also scalable projects to run on television in America as well. It’s one of those things where if you’ve got a great idea and you’re in a new breed of media company, you should be able to find the right channel to suit that idea. What’s been really exciting here at the ABC, for instance, is the amount of digital exploration that’s going on. I just thought particularly with the stuff I’ve been doing with “Twitchhike,” it’s been cool to be able to do something so cheap and so free willing for the ABC just to kind of experiment with the idea I’ve been kicking around for ages but also looking at other comedy iView opportunities that have been coming out. There’s been a lot of piloting going on through just the digital platforms here at the ABC and also take a lot at Sammy J. If you haven’t seen any of Sammy J’s election content, I recommend jumping on iView and checking it out. It is hysterical.

What was mentioned: 

Singin’ in the Rain – Make ‘Em Laugh

“In that clip, they have pretty much every kind of joke. There are visual jokes. They have the rule of three jokes. They have slapstick. They have word jokes. They have puns. Everything in that old 1950s, old 1940s movie has every style of joke.” – Dan Ilic. 

5 Key takeaways: 

1. When it comes to content creation, make it memorable, make it shareable. 

2. Have a flat out structure to get your social media ideation plan executed as fast as possible.

3. When you’re the creative and you’re connected straight to the client, that’s the best relationship you can have. 

4. Tell your story without boring your audience. 

5. Surprise your audience. Deliver the unexpected. 

Connect with Dan on social media: 

Twitter: @danilic

Instagram: danilic

Website: www.danilic.com

3 Content marketing lessons from Netflix

Netflix is finding its way into millions of homes and onto screens globally. First believed to be just another library with a good interface, Netflix has proven itself worthy of our attention. The billion dollar entertainment company understands the importance of putting the customer first, second and third.

Here are three content marketing lessons from Netflix you can apply in your business today.

Give your customers what they want

Do you know when, where and how your customers want information? Find out, and use this data to inform your content marketing strategy. Netflix maybe an entertainment company but they live and breathe data. They know it’s not enough to create good content that appeals to the masses. You have to develop tailored content that appeals to your niche communities, too. 

While your niche communities might not stand out on your Google Analytics dashboard they are probably some of your most loyal customers. Take the time to segment your markets so you can easily identify these customers and create custom content that answers their specific questions.

…put your customers first not your competitors.


Personalise your user experience

Netflix understands the importance of personalising services based on previous viewing history and time spent on the site. They learnt their viewers loved to binge-watch television series so they made the decision to upload all episodes of the original series at once. 

Do you know how your customer likes to interact with your content? Do you suggest products to your customers based on previous purchases? You too can easily personalise your service and improve your target marketing. It’s about moving away from traditional methods of marketing and selling that focus on what brands wanted their customers to do, and when. Now, it’s about engaging with customers with the focus being to build long-term relationships, and provide support at every step of your customer’s journey.

…if you want to be seen as an expert in your field you also need to create original content


Diversify your content

When Netflix first came onto the scene it was a content curation company. Curating content is a great way to attract more people to your site, especially through social media. However, if you want to be seen as an expert in your field you also need to create original content, and it has to be good. Netflix realised this too, and it wasn’t until House of Cards and Daredevil aired that the company finally got the recognition it deserved.

Like Netflix, you need to produce high quality, unique content offerings and deliver them consistently. Your content needs to be worthy of your customer’s email addresses so they will download it. And the more intriguing and valuable your content is the more likely your customers will talk about your brand. 

Don’t just create another e-book because others are, put your customers first not your competitors. Create content that builds trust, adds value, and highlights what you do best. Look back through your data to learn what type of content attracted your customers, what keeps them interested, and build your strategy from here.

Follow Rachel on Twitter and visit her blog

Photo credit: giveawayboy via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

How to channel your content through social media

We are joined by social media guru and CEO of Maximise Your Social, Neal Schaffer. We talked about the rise of the Snapchat business model, the amount of content travelling through social media and how your brand can capitalise on the action. 

Download and listen to the full show and read below for a preview of Neal’s insights.  

Subscribe to the Brand Storytelling podcast on iTunes, Soundcloud, and selected Android apps


Rakhal Ebeli: The thing that we’ve got to remember with all of these platforms is, it’s rented land. You’re talking about the decline of Twitter. A year ago, I had people on my podcast, who were Twitter experts or are Twitter experts. They’ve spent and invested so much time in building that audience. Then all of a sudden, we’ve got to now migrate everyone across to Snapchat and then they’ve got to start thinking about, what’s next and how do they create that content that’s suitable [for] that platform?

There are shifting sands in all of this. I guess, there’s got to be an element of future pacing around, what is the most appropriate channel for our brand? I know that that’s difficult for you to provide advice on, given that we’ve got so many different marketers out there, who tune in. Overall, what’s the overarching strategy when it comes to this? If you’re a marketer and you put your hat on and you say, “Okay, I’m going to sit down and look at opening all these different accounts.” Where do you start and what’s the best advice in terms of getting bang for your buck with your audience?

Neal Schaffer: I like to think of it very, very simplistic. It is impossible, unless you have a huge infrastructure budget, unless you are both, a newspaper and a TV company, to be on all these platforms and be doing them the right way. At some point, you have to understand that you need to be able to engage with content. What type of content is the easiest for your organization to engage with? Is it blog content? Is it video content? Is it audio content? Is it photos?

I think that in part is, going to help you decide which social networks to be on. You also have to understand obviously, who your target market is? Which platforms they’re using, and how they use it? What they would want of you, if you were on that platform, most importantly. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Why are they using the social networks? They don’t necessarily want to engage with brands on them, they want to engage with friends.

I think that’s another thing you need to understand. I think it’s about choosing a few networks very, very selectively, not using all of them. If you’ve read Maximize your Social or if you haven’t, I talk about the concept of PDCA, of Plan-Do-Check-Action. If you’re on, even if it’s 2 networks or 3 networks or 4 networks and you’re constantly monitoring and you’re measuring your activities. You have your KPIs set up and you’re constantly measuring them, I think that the data should lead you, as to what social networks that you need to unplug from because they’re not delivering benefit to you. As well as, those platforms that you hear about in the news, that you may not be on that, you may want to consider being on.

I still get, Facebook is still, what we call, the white pages, here in the United States. Everybody’s on it. I think that almost every company should be on Facebook, in one way or another. Yes, you have to pay, to play, but you know what? Snapchat’s no different. In fact, none of these social networks are any different. At least, you get to micro-target those people that obviously, you want to attract to your presence.

I still think Twitter is very, very strong. It might not have the same number of active monthly users, but it’s still a huge community. They give marketers the option to do a number of things, similar to Facebook. It’s a logical place to be. Instagram as well, although Instagram becomes to be a little bit more challenging, if you really want to be effective at it, from a marketing perspective. If you’re B2B, LinkedIn.

Start with those 4 networks and a blog. If you do video, obviously you have the option of Facebook, live streaming, Periscope are starting to be integrated into Twitter, and you have YouTube. Often, you can repurpose your content to Livestream, then upload to YouTube. Simultaneously Livestream on Periscope and Facebook, and then upload to YouTube. You’ve got a lot of options there. That’s what I think, it comes down to, is the medium that is going to be the most natural for your organization to operate in, in lieu of your own culture, brand, history of creating content. The sort of content that your target users want to consume and where they are. Just stick with, at max, 4, and do A/B testing.

My client that I’m working with right now, the reason why I launched this agency, we’re only on 2 networks and we’re A/B testing. It becomes very clear that Twitter, from a cost per conversion, is actually cheaper than Facebook right now. That’s where you need to take it. It’s not a matter of what network you want to be on, it’s what do you want to achieve on that network? What’s the KPI? What are you going to measure? What’s the process going to look like? Then, let the data be the talking. I often have this picture of the Statue of Liberty in one of my slides. I say, “In data we trust.” That’s what it is.

I think that, I am now, an agency. Agencies have that infrastructure. That’s what they’ve been doing since day 1. They know how to measure. They have processes in place. Systems in place. A lot of brands are trying to leapfrog that, trying to create their own. It’s not easy. Often, they’re doing social for the wrong reasons and they’re not measuring. If you have [an] unlimited budget, that’s awesome. As social media spend begins to take up 15, 20, a few years from now, 25% of a marketing budget, I think there’s going to be a lot of accountability issues that are going to come up in the future as to, why we are spending this much? What are we getting out of it? Especially, as people change, management changes and the users are going to change as well, and they’re going to move on to different platforms.

Social media is a never-ending experiment and that’s why, the only way to figure it out is, to be measuring, experimenting and always optimizing.

The trouble with ad blocking and publishers

Ad blocking services are disrupting the business of content providers everywhere. In Australia, the adoption rate of ad-blocking software is staggering: fast approaching 4 million users, outnumbering Twitter’s base in the country, writes Linh Dao.   

It is a delicate position to be in. On one hand, you have readers clamouring for free, high-quality content. On the other, you have journalists and content creators who work hard for their paychecks. 

Try as they might, publishers are facing an uphill battle to underline the relevance of their ads in the year of the adblocker

Fighting the inevitable. 

There are a set of strategies publishers are using to defend their turf. 

The strongest reaction is to take legal actions against ad blocking companies. A recent report by Medianomics says “supporting collective legal action” is the most likely response among surveyed publishers. Interestingly, Adblock Plus – a big ad blocking player – has won all the five court cases initiated by media companies.

The spread of ad blocking is certainly a wake-up call…

Hence, the following statement sums up this strategy’s effectiveness nicely: “Publishers risk making the mistakes of the music industry, which used lawsuits instead of innovation to eventually move to a download and then subscription model.”

Source: IBTimes
Source: IBTimes

The next strategy publishers can pursue is asking readers for their understanding. News Corp Australia has displayed a message calling for journalism appreciation through allowing ads. 

This ties in with the next strategy. Publishers have tried deploying a technical solution, preventing readers from accessing content if they have ad blockers on. News Corp Australia has followed the footsteps of notable US sites such as Forbes and Wired in this regard.

…publishers need to put themselves in the shoes of their audience

Nonetheless, it is not just up to media companies to implement such technologies. Big tech companies that create internet browsers also play a part. In fact, Apple has long been known to support ad blocking on Safari; while Microsoft is about to create one for its Windows 10 Edge browser. 

Proactive Strategies

This set of strategies is about “winning in the court of public opinion” rather than just winning in a court. 

Firstly, publishers and media companies have started to realise the importance of improving the user experience. News Corp in explaining its move to block ad blockers has also admitted the need to work on ads’ quality as well as reading experience. 

“No one wants to lose, for example, 30% of your audience but the reality is there is a probably a bigger opportunity to monetise your existing audience,”  says. managing director of metro and regional publishing, Damian Eales.

That opportunity could come from an unexpected place – the ad blocking services themselves. For instance, Adblock Plus is looking to launch a feature allowing readers to pay publishers for content. Or it could come from other publishing platforms, particularly on social media. Facebook’s Instant Articles would be an option too big to miss. 

Then there is also a neat blend between content and advertising – native advertising or sponsored content. Done well, this strategy can result in serious benefits.

Rethinking the content business

Again, publishers need to put themselves in the shoes of their audience. When ads get in the way of consuming content, users might rebel. The ad-supported revenue model might need to evolve, or transform altogether. 

So far, analysts and commentators seem to prefer an active, multi-throng approach. For those who have not reacted, or reacted passively, the spread of ad blocking is certainly a wake-up call. 

Cover image via Eric Kessel

Follow Linh on Twitter: @LinhContent 

How to grow your brand’s audience

We have Mark Masters from the ID Group on the show as we talk about how brands are growing and maintaining their audience. We also talk about Mark’s passion for AFC Bournemouth, the genius behind the Farrow & Ball blog, the Chromologist and the future of the Content Marketing Institute.

Listen to the full show and read below for a preview of Mark’s insights.  

The following is an excerpt from the Brand Storytelling podcast. Available on iTunes, Soundcloud, and selected Android apps


Rakhal Ebeli: I want to talk about another case study, Farrow and Ball. Could you tell our Australian listeners in particular about that brand, and what they’re doing with creative content to grow an audience, and keep it.

Mark Masters: It’s probably something that many of you haven’t heard of. Farrow and Ball are one of a better word, a paint company. There supply paint and wallpaper, but they’ve been doing it since the end of the war since 1946. What they’ve done is focus on a blog, They had been looking to say right, let’s do a blog, back in 2014, let’s do a blog, how are we going to do this? There was a chap called Rob Murray who works for Farrow and Ball and said, all right, if we start to do a blog about Farrow and Ball it’s going to end up talking about paint. Why don’t we do something a little bit different? We’re starting to see this more now, where brands are creating up separate spaces that relate to different aspects, for something that they believe in, so this is what they did. Rather than talk about paint and wallpaper they have created a separate site, so have a look at this.

It’s called The Chromologist. What the Chromologist is, they want to now own color. This is the really interesting thing, and this comes back to content, it comes back to consistency, and it comes to be that idea. The Chromologist, what it means is someone who interprets color. Rather than being a brand that says right, let’s kind of blog and let’s look at things that come into [the] paint. What they did was say right, let’s set up a separate site that looks at owning color. What they’ve done is say we’re going to document color. You look at their website. They now team up with bloggers. This is a beautiful example of an owned media approach. They’ve been covering what’s been happening in the Milan design week, London fashion week, and what they’re starting to do now is ongoing content related to color. You will not see the Farrow and Ball logo everywhere, all you’re going to see is at the footer on the website. They are now taking, as I said, this owned media approach by finding the right people to work with.

Even down here we got this huge brand down here that’s Lush, huge cosmetic company, origins that are [a] international company that’s down here. They too have very openly said, we are going to be taking an owned media approach to all this stuff. What this allows, by saying we’re going to talk about color, opens a whole road in front of them to look at so many different areas and how to paint a door, right through to showcasing how sunsets look and using Instagram to show just the world around us.

Rakhal: I was going to say travel when you’re talking about the holy festival in India, it just completely opens that funnel for communication and invites the whole world into a topic that, as you said, could be pretty, for one of a better word, plain.

Yet they’ve been able to bring in the world of color. I love that example. What does this tell us in a nutshell about being creative with content and succinctly Mark, what steps could our listeners take to follow that?

Mark: This is the thing to think about. Let’s bring us all in the room now. What is this word that connects you with what you believe in? If they’re looking at color, it opens this whole new thing, exactly the things we’re talking about. Festivals, light, DIY everything else. If someone asked you for the one thing you represent, what could you reply with you? You know, I stand for…

And can we have longevity and scope for that thing that we believe in, because then we ask ourselves can we capture someone’s imagination and attention on a consistent basis, by looking at that thing that we totally believe in. I’m seeing this now, this is the companies that are faltering and those that are succeeding, and those who’ve got the bit between their teeth, are making a real go of it, as opposed to those people that end up doing it because they see it’s on the checklist for the week that we need to write a blog or we need to do a piece of audio or video. This is the open field that we’ve got today by building these audiences and communities around our core principles, and it’s how we deliver it, big words now, on a consistent and committed basis. It has to be fun, it’s fun!