Entertainment Creative Works Brand Strategy

A new content era has arrived: what is social entertainment, and how can brands win?


By Jenni Baker, Senior Editor

April 19, 2022 | 9 min read

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Digital marketing has always been viewed as a numbers game – with creative (the art) often taking a back seat in marketers’ quest for performance data (the science). But in the world of social media – a world where entertainment is rapidly taking over – creative is a marketers’ superpower; it’s the one thing they have control over and the one thing that can help a piece of content thrive.

Video in the golden age of creative – the future of social entertainment

Dash Hudson CMO shares how brands can prosper in a time where creative insights are a necessity

The Drum caught up with Kate Kenner Archibald, chief marketing officer for social marketing software company Dash Hudson, to discuss what’s been driving this shift towards social entertainment and look ahead to how brands can prosper in a time where creative insights are a necessity.

The new era of social entertainment is here – what’s been driving this shift in the social media space and what does all of this mean for brands and their social marketing strategies?

Looking back, we can pinpoint significant shifts in technology that have transformed our online experiences. From the dominance of Facebook in the mid-2000s, to the rise of the “Instagram-worthy” aesthetic in the teens, it’s fascinating to recognize just how much social media shapes our culture.

Perhaps the most powerful shift in social media since the advent of Facebook, however, is the era of social entertainment. In 2020, social media began to undergo a rapid and drastic transformation, shifting away from traditional connection-based feeds, known as the social graph, to video-driven entertainment formats, known as the content graph.

This pivot toward video, driven by TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, is not simply about the content itself, but how it’s delivered. In the content graph, reach is no longer capped by the size of one’s digital network, and is propelled by the strength of the content that’s shared.

As we witness this transformation happening in real-time, we are also seeing parallel shifts happening across social platforms. Spearheading this trend is TikTok – the most visited website of 2021 – which has captivated the world with its sophisticated content graph. In a recent move, TikTok updated its platform to increase the maximum video length from three minutes to 10, thus signaling its intention to claim its place within the entertainment industry. In addition, Instagram has announced its shift in focus to Reels, acknowledging that users are visiting Instagram to be entertained.

For brands, embracing the era of social entertainment unlocks a new frontier. In this dimension, consumers are ready to be entertained and to purchase. In 2020, there were nearly 80 million social buyers in the US alone – a 30% increase from 2019.

To win in the social entertainment landscape, marketers must get back to what they do best – being creative. It’s time to let go of what has driven their strategies over the past two decades and lean heavily into producing entertaining content that consumers are craving.

So we’re moving from a social-first to a content-first approach. What does this mean for marketing metrics and how should modern brands be measuring success?

While paid social still holds an important place in digital marketing, now is the time for organic content to thrive. On TikTok in particular, marketers have the unprecedented opportunity to gain massive reach organically. This is largely in part due to the mysterious recipe behind the platform’s algorithm, which prioritizes content that users are most likely to enjoy.

When it comes to measuring this organic success, it’s important to look beyond vanity metrics such as followers and likes to understand how your content is resonating. For example, how much of your video is being watched? What’s the sentiment and volume of activity in your comments? How often is your content being shared or saved? These are all important signals to monitor when determining whether you are truly captivating your audience’s attention.

Kate, you have an impressive marketing background with Estée Lauder, Tom Ford Beauty and Bobbi Brown Cosmetics; what made you decide to make the move to Dash Hudson?

While at the Estée Lauder Companies, I spent the majority of my career in global marketing roles. In these positions, I had a great interest in how technology could drive efficiency and effectiveness for our global teams. I knew we had an opportunity to work smarter. When I encountered Dash Hudson for the first time, I realized that this was the type of tool that would help take my team to the next level in content, social and commerce. After getting on board with the tool, Dash Hudson was my competitive advantage. It was helping me curate and optimize content while discovering insights and quantifying my efforts across channels. Between the platform and the people, I knew it was a one of a kind opportunity.

At Dash Hudson, not only can I embrace my genuine interest in tech, but also play a key leadership role in a fast-growing company that I believe is on track for market domination.

Having been on the client side, was there a word of advice you wish you had been told to help you navigate this ever-changing world of social media?

The biggest piece of advice I have for marketers navigating the ever-changing world of social media is simple: don’t be afraid to experiment.

The first step to setting yourself up for success is to dial into the core of your brand’s ethos. In doing so, seek to gain an intimate understanding of what it stands for and what types of communities and subcultures it serves. Once this foundation is laid, it’s time for the magic to happen – and that means letting your creativity soar.

In this new era of social entertainment, it’s important to recognize that the days of “set it and forget it” social strategies are over. Being agile is key and brands must find the right tools that will empower them to move at the speed of social. For example, Dash Hudson’s growing suite of social marketing and entertainment solutions not only enables brands to truly understand what content resonates with their audiences, but also unlocks the ability to discover trends and source actionable data in this increasingly complex landscape.

Being experimental with the content your brand publishes – and having the right insights at your fingertips to measure how it’s resonating – will help you build meaningful relationships with consumers that marketers have been craving for decades.

While we are in this new era where brands can engage with consumers in an authentic way, influencers and creators still provide a massive opportunity to make a bigger impact among digital communities.

Just as it's important for brands to experiment with their own content, it's equally as important to experiment working with various influencers and creators. When doing so, it's critical to provide the autonomy required for their creativity to shine. By granting a high level of freedom, influencers and creators are much more likely to showcase your brand in a way that will make the strongest impact with their audience – and therefore, provide you with the best results.

How can brands ensure they are one step ahead in this new era of social entertainment?

The most important thing you can do to stay one step ahead is always keep your finger on the pulse.

As I’ve mentioned, the social media landscape is moving faster than ever before. That means brands must not only keep up with what’s relevant from a cultural standpoint, but also how their community’s wants and needs are changing in real-time.

Brands must become laser-focused in discovering the subcultures they can impact in a way that is both meaningful and authentic. In addition to taking an entertainment-first approach to the content they produce within these subcultures, they can also leverage the power of influencers to gain further trust, reach, and authority.

Our data team at Dash Hudson recently uncovered that micro-influencers – particularly in the retail space – are an extremely effective way to improve brand results on social media. In retail, micro-influencers pack a powerful punch, with an engagement rate that is 900% higher than the industry’s average. This further emphasizes the way in which video-first platforms like TikTok are prioritizing the quality of content that creators produce over their follower size.

By intimately understanding the communities your brand wants to impact, and ensuring you never lose sight of how these communities are shifting in real-time, you have a much greater chance of creating entertaining content that will drive the most optimal results.

Entertainment Creative Works Brand Strategy

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Dash Hudson

Dash Hudson was founded in 2015 with the mission of empowering brands to deepen engagement through photos and videos. Today, the global leader in social marketing...

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