This is part of a series on content strategies for brands as publishers, a deep dive into how brands are building out content offerings.
InstaNatural, an online beauty brand, develops its own content for retail partners like Amazon, Walmart.com and Jet.com.
In order to accelerate the content-production process, this month, InstaNatural opened an 800-square-foot in-house content studio at its headquarters in Orlando. A team of 28 — consisting of designers, photographers, videographers, copywriters and e-commerce marketplace specialists — creates content including social media posts, product images, product listings, packaging materials and native advertising to live on its retailer partners’ websites as well as women’s lifestyle, health and beauty publishers.
The customer solutions team of five at the studio gives editors from the likes of Self and online influencers specific product consultations and general beauty tips. Going forward, Williams hopes that the team will also be able to manage consumers’ requests on social in real time as well as demonstrate beauty tricks and tips via live-broadcasting platforms like Facebook Live and Periscope.
“I want to leverage content as a platform to listen, to understand and to engage,” said Ethelbert Williams, CMO for InstaNatural. “That influences the future of our brand.”
The future, he explained, is crowdsourced beauty, where consumers have direct input into the products that their favorite brands make. Online beauty retailers like Glossier and Peach & Lily have been taking this approach for a while: They ask consumers to take a questionnaire, comment on blog posts or tag their Instagram posts. Then they sift through the data for product development.
“Now we have the ability to listen to consumers and understand where our brand is headed via user-generated content on social,” said Williams.
InstaNatural still works with an agency supporting PR and corporate communications. But it is also now one of the latest brands that have moved content creation in-house. On a larger scale, Pepsi opened “Creators League,” a 4,000-square-foot content studio in New York’s SoHo neighborhood in May of this year.
“Overall, we’ve seen a trend where personal-care brands are moving into the in-house space because they want to be the true expert in their area,” said Kelly Meyers, associate creative strategy director for agency Code and Theory. “But many of our clients still need a production house because they cannot fulfill editorial roles from top to bottom.”
Williams echoed the same sentiment, saying that as he’s looking to bring editorial leadership in-house, finding the right talent is a big challenge.
“I hold a journalism degree, and I would like folks with a strong editorial background to come to work on the brand side. But interestingly, most [journalists] don’t consider that as their career,” he said. “The future has to be the one where we need people with strong commercial acumen and editorial experience. I’m desperate and hungry for that type of talent.”