What brands can learn from non-brand social media content creators

October 18th, 2016 in Content Marketing 4 minute read

While we can be as creative as we like with many of our clients, we still have a responsibility to adhere to their brand guidelines, and the products and services that they sell. In the last few years, there has been an upturn in the number of social media content creators who have seemingly no agenda beyond getting eyes on their site. Buzzfeed is probably the best example of the model – a site that can cover anything and everything, more social media based examples would be UNILAD, LADbible, Tasty (owned by Buzzfeed) and Now This (owned by the Huffington Post). I’m willing to wager that you could scroll through your Facebook newsfeed right now and you’ll see videos from all of these content creators within a swipe or two.

UNILAD, LADBilble and others are often met with a sigh of derision in the agency business, as well as by many journalists I’m sure. Written-off as constantly freebooting content, and writing questionable editorial at best, these companies have built up an impressive following through clickbait headlines, and disposable headlines with finger on the pulse news content.

Freebooting, the practise of taking someone’s original content and posting it out as if it is your own work, was rampant when Facebook video rose to prominence (if you want a perfect analogy for freebooting, Smarter Every Day has a great video explaining it, as it happened to his channel). It could be argued that Freebooting is still a problem of course, we’ve all come across video content that we know not to be totally original, most of us probably at some point today! The larger content producers like UNILAD etc have generally now fully adopted the practise of crediting the original content creators for their work. Giving credit goes a long way to reducing the damage that freebooting can cause to content creators.

The Stats

Now that freebooting issues have largely been addressed, it’s possible to ogle and admire the video view numbers being achieved by these institutions:

Social Media Video Views

Above are the social media video views from August 2016 – and to be clear, the top two there have 2.9 billion and 2.5 billion views respectively – outrageous. For reference, here are the same results for brands:

Brand Social Views

As you can see, these numbers are about ten times less across the board. So what can brands learn from these content creators? Well, a lot – but I want to focus on one element:


The top content producers experiment in various ways, most notably across multiple platforms. A quick glance at the websites of UNILAD and LADBible shows that they have active Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine accounts. Each of these platforms are vastly different, and a purpose has been found for each – rather than sharing all of the same content across the major platforms. If a new platform emerges and gains popularity, you can bet that the non-brand content producers will be some of the first to test the waters. Perhaps it’s time brands took the same initiative.

Sometimes experimentation doesn’t need to be innovative, UNILAD and LADBible, amongst others, have utilised a trick straight from You’ve Been Framed to ensure that their content pipeline is constantly replenished – user generated content with the incentive of a cash prize. Submit your video to these channels and you could stand to win anything from £100-£300. This further distances these institutions from Freebooting, they don’t need to steal content, people are giving it to them. Could brands operate a similar approach? Not just with bloggers, but with everyone?

Finally, Live Video. Live video is particularly good on Facebook for smaller brands, as your followers will receive a notification whenever you go live, which is handy for engagement. Most live video you’ll see online is of interviews, Q&A’s or events, these are all good for some brands, but not for others. If you can’t make these things work, then it’s time to innovate. It’s the live video innovation from the non-brand content producers that sparked this piece in the first place, here are my favourites:

Last Lolly Standing: https://www.facebook.com/LADbible/videos/2783253238388515/

A hot summers day in England and four ice lollies, what else is there to do but have a melting contest in real-time. 6.4 million views and 14,600 shares isn’t a bad return for that idea is it?

Find the camera: https://www.facebook.com/LADbible/videos/2795275437186295/ 

Point a camera in a random location and challenge your followers to find it, first person to do a “dab” wins £100 in cash. This is seriously impressive fan engagement, and unlike anything we’ve ever seen before on social media.

These two examples for me show the possibilities that can be explored with social media when the pressure to sell is removed. Perhaps brands would do well to reduce their sales messages on social, experiment and have a little fun. If you want to find out more about the social content we produce here at Zeal please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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