Content is king. The reality is, no matter what the channel, content production and distribution is hot on the minds of brands everywhere. Good content creators are in short supply, and everyone is doing whatever they can to gain the upper hand in the content race and make their brand stand out. But, in this race to the ultimate content, have some brands lost sight of ethical content production?
At Origin, we create a lot of content, both on and off the clock. Our staff is filled with photographers, videographers, and content enthusiasts always chomping at the bit to create the next great piece of content. With such opportunity and drive comes the temptation to capture those assets at any cost. Regardless, we believe it is important to stick to these next points as you embark on your next content project:
Operate within the law
The amount of content that is created outside of the law is shocking. It doesn’t take long scrolling through an Instagram feed to find some form of content that was filmed using illegal drone flights, trespassing, or some other questionably legal activity. Sure, you can probably get a “cheap” drone operator to capture some aerials you have been looking for to round out your latest brand video, but are they actually certified to fly in the area you are looking to capture content? The number of illegal drone flights we witness right here in Whistler that interfere with the main air-route for air ambulance from our medical centre to Vancouver General Hospital is staggering! Laws and regulations are put in place to keep the public safe and preserve our natural environment. Although it can often be tempting to jump that fence or put the drone up in the air near a heli-port, the consequences beyond just the fines can often be detrimental - is this really something you want your brand affiliated with?
Leave the areas you explore as you found them
Brands should be the ones leading the responsible content charge. There is an old saying “take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints”, and this could not resonate more now with the hoards of people heading out to capture content. As more and more people are empowered to get out and capture content for themselves or for brands, it is even more important that brands set the standard for what they expect of those capturing content on their behalf. This recent video, which has since been taken down, was posted by RedBull and caught some serious flak for a classic example of not respecting the natural environment in favour of "getting the shot":
Chances are, your best customers will always see straight through forced or inauthentic content. This recent influencer campaign from Dell Computers broke several rules on this list, but the most damaging to the brand was the blatant product placement in a fenced off area of our national parks. Any photographer with half an eye knows that you would not be sitting on a laptop editing photos from Bow Lake while sat high above Peyto Lake at golden hour… you would be snapping away capturing the amazing scene in front of you. Instead, this ad targetted at photographers comes across as completely inauthentic and is followed up with even more inauthentic comments from other influencers involved in the campaign. Transparency is generally a good thing, but when your content is this transparently inauthentic, you may want to re-think your strategy.
The same rule of thumb applies when building a community around your content online. In recent years, the rise of bots has caused some shocking inauthenticity in interactions on social media. A proper community management strategy can really come in to play in ensuring that your brand is responding to events and interacting with an authentic human voice. If you are relying on bots and pre-set messages to boost your engagement, chances are that your brand will miss the mark and come across as inauthentic, rude, or simply out of the loop.. Take this example of bots responding extremely poorly to a post about the recent California Wildfires - exactly the types of behaviour that Instagram is trying to crack down on. I am sure that nobody affected by the California Wildfires felt that this picture was “Very cool :)”, @gentsauthority.
Get permission before sharing
Content isn’t free. Using video and image assets without permission or agreement with the person who created it is both infringement of copyright and simply disrespectful. There is some significant grey area and misunderstanding of content sharing vs. stealing on social media. The best way to avoid this grey area is to make sure that you have at least contacted the ORIGINAL content creator to ensure that you have their expressed permission to use their content. There is no such thing as “sharing” content on Instagram, especially if you are using it for the purposes of selling your products. Always ensure that you have had the conversation with the original content creator, and provide proper credit and payment where it is due.
These are just a few examples of the steps that we take here at Origin in ensuring we are delivering the best possible content to our clients.