April 28, 2020: Facebook releases slew of video updates; Sports publishers turn to UGC to fill content gap; Legacy CPG brands eye DTC space

Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:


Facebook Doubles Down on All Things Video

Facebook has rolled out a suite of new products to expand its capabilities in video chat and keep up with rising demand. 

The company announced Messenger Rooms, a tool for starting virtual hangouts with up to 50 people and allowing friends to drop in on you whenever they like. It’s also doubling the capacity of video calls on WhatsApp from four people to eight, adding video calls to Facebook Dating, and adding new live-streaming features to both Facebook and Instagram. 

What it means: Step aside Zoom and Houseparty, Facebook’s coming in hot and wants to take some of that increasingly popular video chat market share. Where Facebook has already established itself as a leader in the one-to-many video space through its slew of live-streaming features, its latest video investments improve its historically lacking, many-to-many (i.e., large group) communication offerings. 

The timing of Facebook’s development of video tools that support many-to-many communication is no coincidence, with platforms like Zoom and Houseparty seeing exponential growth over the last few months as consumers across the globe are desperate for ways to virtually connect. 

If Facebook’s latest video solutions can solve some key issues that have plagued some of the leading video chat platforms (think: security and privacy issues), it’s possible that Facebook could quickly earn even more video chat market share, especially given the sheer volume of daily users across its family of apps. Already, more than 700 million people make audio and video calls on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp every day and on Facebook and Instagram live-streaming has skyrocketed, with Live videos now reaching 800 million people per day. 

Make it work: More video = more opportunities for brand-to-influencer-to-consumer connection. With much of the world confined to their homes for the indefinite future, now more than ever, brands have the opportunity to leverage these technologies to virtually collaborate with influencers and their fans. 

Think: executing digital focus groups to test and iterate campaign concepts and messaging; brand-hosted exclusive, influencer-only virtual events; partnering with influencers to launch AMAs and other intimate group experiences for top fans. 


Publishers Cash in on the Democratization of Content

With the cancellation of March Madness, the postponement of the NBA and NHL playoffs and the start of the MLB Season, sports publishers who have relied on March and April to be strong months for business, have seen dramatic decreases in traffic and overall viewership.

As a result, sports publishers have turned to user-generated content of amateur athletes sourced from platforms like Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to fill the content gap. By leaning into content created by the consumer, for the consumer, sports publishers like House of Highlights, have seen tremendous growth and results. 

What it means: It’s not only sports publishers who are relying on UGC to fill the content gap. With no new or live mainstream media for the indefinite future, (think: sports, movies, TV shows, concerts), all publishers, regardless of the industry, have begun sourcing content from users and influencers alike and repurposing that content across touchpoints. Not only is the content cheaper and more efficient to create with a lower barrier to entry but in some cases, it’s actually proving to be more engaging — as evidenced by the growth seen within the sports industry. 

Make it work: The increased need for content paired with the rate at which social media platforms are innovating and releasing new features has led to an acceleration in the democratization of content creation. In other words, the ability to create high quality, repurposable content no longer only exists in the hands of the select few. Thanks to easy-to-use photo filters, video stitching tools, and better camera and video technology in smartphones, anyone can be a content creator. 

Given the current state of halted production, brands have an opportunity to take a page out of publishers’ playbooks when it comes to generating content from influencers and users and repurposing that content across touchpoints. Influencer content is a particularly effective and efficient way to fuel your content engine.

Below, we’ve outlined recommended steps for repurposing IGC and UGC across your customers’ journey:

  • Journey Mapping – To start, map out all of the touchpoints your customers are interacting with throughout their purchase journey in the here and now. Pay careful attention to how the current pandemic may have shifted or pivoted their typical journey. 


  • Content Sourcing – If you’ve historically collaborated with influencers, start by exploring your own content library and identify the highest quality content. It’s worth noting that, when reviewing content, typical metrics (i.e., followers, engagement rates) shouldn’t matter because you are really just looking at the content quality. If you haven’t collaborated with influencers, explore your brand’s owned social channels to see if there is any high quality user-generated content. 


  • Content Repurposing – Take the learnings from the journey mapping exercise above to proactively identify where your customers are spending their time, and how your brand can authentically and thoughtfully intercept those interactions. Repurposing IGC and UGC doesn’t need to just stop at brand.com or brand-owned social channels (see: Jack Daniels repurpose UGC for TV ad spot). Anytime you are repurposing content, however, it’s important to make sure you have the rights to that content prior to repurposing. 


Big Brands Eye DTC Models

As online sales continue to show year-over-year growth accelerated by the COVID-19 outbreak, retailers and brands are increasing their e-commerce capabilities. Pre-pandemic, we had already seen an increasing number of big brands enter the DTC space and it’s likely that after this pandemic ends, the acceleration of new entrants to the space will increase even more. 

What it means: It’s more important now than ever before that big brands start to diversify their distribution strategies and introduce direct-to-consumer models. However, even brands like Coca-Cola, who have attempted to invest in a somewhat diversified distribution experience with the launch of its DTC arm in 2018, saw a 25% decrease in sales at the start of the month. 

Coca-Cola isn’t the only legacy CPG brand who has experimented with a direct-to-consumer strategy— we’ve seen Clorox, P&G and Unilever, among others, follow suit. However, one of the biggest issues for these companies is that the majority of their products are legacy products, operating under a less than-perfect digital playbook.  

Make it work: The need for diversified distribution channels, with strong direct-to-consumer channels is a must to thrive in today’s retail landscape. As outlined above, the changing retail landscape represents an opportunity for legacy brands to evolve by creating a consumer-led, digital-first strategy across all business units — not just marketing. 

Brands looking to transform their strategy should look holistically at their entire business to identify key opportunities they have to influence new consumer behaviors. This includes looking at your supply chain and current distribution partners and determining where you can ship direct, or create bespoke delivery experiences in key markets (i.e., by drone). It includes designing beyond the screen of the moment and collaborating with the influencers who impact your consumers so that your brand can pop on all feeds. 



TikTok launches donation stickers allowing creators to fundraise for COVID-19 relief efforts

TikTok influencers help brands reach ‘acne-positive’ Gen Z

Updated Retail Outlook: 10 New Predictions for 2020