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Campsite’s Jacobs: Every Platform Has its Own Unique Voice

Greg Jacobs knows a thing or two about social media.

The head of brand partnerships and content monetization for Irvine media firm Campsite and current president of the American Advertising Federation’s OC chapter offered his views recently on the fast-changing social content landscape and how to show up right to avoid, as he puts it, being a dork on TikTok, Instagram or anywhere else a company has a digital footprint.

Here’s an edited version of a conversation Jacobs had with the Business Journal.

Where is Campsite finding most of its work coming from right now?

If there’s a niche that we are in, I use the word active lifestyle. It’s really enthusiast lifestyle. One of our brands is a large mountain bike retailer. We have a running shoe retailer. It’s a real niche and part of that is being a bunch of ex-Red Bullers, we fit that world. We know it really well.

How’s business been since coming out of last year’s pandemic? 

We, I’ll use the phrase, put it on idle getting through the pandemic. February is when we started to see the tick up and it’s been cranking.

We have definitely seen with the whole shift of working from home and click to buy; it immediately caused everyone to be wiser and every brand to focus on digital. The thing about digital is every platform is its own unique voice and has its own content programming strategy for it.

You can’t just make content for content’s sake. That’s one rule. The second rule is content without a business objective is just an art project.

Take TikTok for example. It’s shareable across generations because there’s humor to it. Brands have a hard time doing that or being funny or irreverent. Don’t show up on this platform unless you’re dressed appropriately for the party. Instagram drives commerce. Instagram Reels does not. I’d say to any brand, please don’t be lazy and create a set of content and just think it’s going to serve all people across all platforms.

Campsite has members that started up Red Bull’s YouTube channel. What were the learnings from that? 

We started [the channel] Sept. 22, 2006. There’s a gentleman on our team named David Brooks [Campsite head of digital content platforms and programming]. He started the YouTube channel and signed up for it with his own name.

For the longest period of time, we let the YouTube channel just be organic. Brands will put content onto a platform. They’ll get impatient because it takes a while for that content to gain traction so they’ll turn to advertising. You’ve now bought views. We purposely put a walled guard around YouTube [to advertising] and said if we tell the story right and give the audience something they find interesting, it will grow. We kept a complete moratorium from any paid spend until 2014, so it had a lot of organic growth.

What are the main trends driving the social content landscape right now that companies need to be prepared for? 

Augmented reality at some point, but we’re just not there yet.

It goes back to curation of your channel. If you’re a brand and you’ve had a mediocre strategy on a platform, there is no harm in shutting it down and starting it up again. Clean it out.

Brands have owned and operated channels. Their owned channel is their dotcom. It’s the one channel that no one can touch. So, if I want a true experience, I need to drive them to my dotcom. Brands forget about the mothership.

So how does the role of the dot-com evolve? 

I think you’re going to see on the e-commerce side where a dot-com for a brand becomes like the Small Business Saturday mindsight that was the American Express campaign, where I’m interacting.  

I will be amazed when I go to a site and the most basic things are not listed. We always say to brands make sure it’s super clean and unbelievably easy to navigate.

And what about influencer marketing? Is this still an important avenue? 

Influencers has gotten to be a bad word now. It’s just one person’s opinion, but I think it’s getting old. I think it’s played out. It’s not believable.

And I think some of the ambassadors are taking that on themselves where some of them are saying ‘I’m not going to be part of a brand that I don’t really support.’ So, it’s course corrected; we are smarter than that now.

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