Social video publisher The Hook is increasing its focus on performance marketing when working with brands, reflecting a maturation of what publishers' social media content can offer.
Andy Fidler, co-founder and partner of The Hook Group, told The Drum that brands are “blinkered” about what they can achieve in social beyond basic brand-building and vanity metrics and that some agencies have been happy to string them along. Brands, he continued, have been “chucking money at the wall to see what sticks” in pursuit of virality.
Launched in 2014, The Hook derives income from three segments: its editorial content, its brand-facing Hook Labs and its e-commerce wing. Through Hook Labs, its award-winning writing team, influencer marketing and paid social capabilities are melded. “It is that combination of all the three that significantly uplifts results," claimed Fidler.
With a team of around 24, flexing up with freelancers project-by-project, The Hook sees itself as the UK’s answer to the likes of College Humour, Vice and Complex, creating memorable comedy shorts. It offers up these same credentials to partners to its 10 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok and beyond.
The Hook Labs, winner of Social Media Team of the Year at The Drum Online Media Awards, believes it can effectively drive “sales, app downloads, signs-ups and conversions” with its content. “We challenge the client to work out their true success metric, for some people that is brand awareness and in other cases, it is further down the funnel.”
The group’s emphasis on original content is the difference-maker, according to Fidler. “We have huge credibility in creating content for social that drives action and engages with our users. We create a lot more original content than any of our competitors in the entertainment space.”
Fidler pinpointed creative "narrative" as the means of achieving deeper objectives. “It’s about more than just getting a view with your brand in it, it is about getting someone inspired, or to like you.”
For larger brands, Hook Labs is now informing them they can deliver shorter-term benefits in the performance space. In contrast, in the direct to consumer space, firms are suddenly moving away from sales and installs to embrace brand building to stand out from the swarm of startups challenging legacy businesses.
“There are agencies out there aren't providing the right services to brands. Brands don't know it is possible to do it right. Some agencies just throw influencers at the brand – which may or may not get results.”
Hook Labs' work for Currys PC World and JBL picked up Best Use of Social Media at The Drum Online Media Awards 2019 for a four-part series it claimed contributed to an 18.3% increase in headphone sales and 18.4% increase in JBL speakers year on year.
One-piece saw Mushy Asghar of Channel 4’s Educating Yorkshire explain how music and headphones helped him overcome his stammer – featured was ‘JBL Wireless Bluetooth Headphones’.
Most recently, it has entered its work for Voxi by Vodafone into The Drum Dadi Awards for the youth-facing mobile carrier. Fidler claims to have “reduced Voxi's target customer acquisition cost by 16% and surpassed its customer conversion target by 27%,” creating content and using influencers to identify potential customers and then taking them through a paid social conversion funnel across Facebook and Instagram to signup to Voxi.
To deliver these results, it has had to look beyond the admittedly niche tastes of The Hook and look to sites, pages and influencers who can land the message with the right audience.
Fidler said: “Brand content, influencer and performance teams traditionally work independently in agencies, but we combine all three.”
Meanwhile, Hook focuses on driving fan loyalty. It claims social weekly returning viewers increased by 800% since January 2019. Total views by were up by a factor of five in a year.
Competing against the agency wings of social publishers including Joe Media, Jungle, LadBible and agencies like Goat and Social Chain, it finds itself hoping the performance focus and its content, differentiate it enough.