Tumblr: move over personalisation, you need to embrace ‘remix culture’ to win with millennials

Personalisation has been the buzzword on many a marketer's lips over the past few years as brands adapt their content strategies to appeal to and engage millennial audiences. Now, however Tumblr is arguing that brands need to adopt the so-called ‘remix culture’ and hand over brand assets to win over audiences.

It’s a trend that has been steadily growing across social media, with users creating their own customised versions of the Star Wars trailer or the viral Ryan Gosling phenomenon, ‘Hey girl what’s my sweater made of? Boyfriend material’ meme.

“You need to be the brand that’s in on that,” said Tumblr’s EMEA head of advertising Michael Pennington at a Yahoo event this morning (3 December). “The remix culture is about brand assets and enabling creativity of the people. We live in an era where people have so many creative tools at their disposal that they are going to remix and reimagine your brands or the brand's assets, so my advice is be the brand that enables and encourages that because it’s going to happen.”

One brand that has already embraced this trend is broadcaster MTV, which recently reinvented itself to stay relevant to digital hungry millennials. It created a digital sticker platform called Canvas to allow audiences to create their own TV idents which then appear on air.

Speaking about a recent conversation with an industry head of creative, Pennington said he revealed that as people are “going to play with our assets anyway I’d rather they were hi-res, best quality and I’d rather that we were trying to move the social river in the way that we want it to go".

Pennington added: “You can guide social conversations but you can’t own them, so guide them softly with great creative assets.”

Business director at media agency M2M Susie Thompson, who predominately works across Estee Lauder’s portfolio of brands, agreed and said that "remixing" branded content is the next move after personalisation.

“Personalisation was when brands were helping facilitating audiences to be personalised but it’s now stepping up a gear where the control is in the audience’s hands and we can give them the raw assets and it’s up to them what they do with it.”

Who uses words anymore?

Paying attention to the paradigm shift from words to emojis is another key weapon for communicating successfully with audiences, as demonstrated by Oxford Dictionaries, which last month chose the Face With Tears of Joy emoji as its 2015 word of the year.

“If brands can capture the mood moment of the aura of a feeling then you’re going to win… around 50 per cent comments on social are emoji,” said Pennington.

“People have completely reimagined the way they have discussions with each other, and video is more important than the English language… Absolutely brands must understand vocabulary shifts.”

And interestingly it is not just light-hearted brands that are jumping on the band wagon. IBM and General Electric have both embraced gifs and visuals in a B2B environment and realised that even mature, historically complex companies can and should have a place in this new transition, added Pennington.

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