Event Recap: The New Rules of Marketing: Content and Social Media in 2020

By Salvatore Ciolfi May 15, 2020

The latest in BrainStation’s Thought Leadership Series – The New Rules of Marketing: Content and Social Media in 2020  – was held last week, and once again, the panel discussion attracted thousands of professionals around the globe.

Ian Bester, BrainStation’s Vice-President and GM, hosted a panel of global marketing leaders, which included:

  • Kirstine Stewart, Head, Shaping the Future of Media at World Economic Forum
  • Samantha Yu, VP, Brand and Integrated Marketing at Refinery29
  • Mike Giepert, Executive Creative Director at Wealthsimple

Here are some of the key takeaways from the panel discussion:

Content is Still King

The panel all agreed that media and content are still extremely in demand, despite the outbreak. Kirstine Stewart, however, made the point that while readership may be up across channels, the brands best leveraging this demand are those that have a good media and content ecosystem in place.

“Having been part of media for so long, the one thing that’s been pretty clear is there’s no such thing as a nice steady period, change is constant,” she said. “You need a good solid healthy media system to support really good content, and today good content is more vital than ever.”

The panel also made the point that the last two months have highlighted the importance for long-term content and distribution planning.

Data is Essential to Content

Data has played an increasingly important role in content development over the last few years, and the COVID-19 outbreak has only further heightened the need for data-driven decision making. The panel agreed that leading brands are now actively listening to their audience and adapting content to suit their needs.

“Part of creating content is not trying to assume that you know exactly what all the consumers want and need. We’re trying to really listen to our clients. That’s been a driver for a lot of the content we create,” said Wealthsimple’s Mike Giepert, adding that initially, this meant serviceable posts that offered support and information.

Refinery29’s Samantha Yu agreed, but suggested that a mix of content is still best.

“We’re constantly thinking about how to create a combination of reactive stories (what’s timely, what’s breaking, what are things that people need to know right away), serviceable stories (what we call tools not rules stories), and reflective first-person stories, which we know a lot of our readers are coming to because they’re seeking insight and empathy,” she said. 

Remember Your Brand

The panel discussed the need for new content and formats, as well as the challenge of experimentation while still staying true to branding and tone.

“We talk a lot about what’s the right tone for our brand. Should we be more emphatic, or should we lean into the “in these uncertain times” kind of messaging? We decided there’s a lot of that in the world right now […] there’s viewer fatigue,” Giepert said, adding that ultimately, Wealthsimple saw value in a lighter touch. “People are going to gravitate towards content that’s maybe not so reflective of the times, I think we also still like to laugh and not think about this all the time.”

The panel agreed that the last two months have forced a lot of people to shift behavior, which will no doubt change target demographics over time. It may not, however, change content marketing approaches over time.

“Ultimately, people look to media and content for the same thing whether it’s 20 years ago, 50 years ago, or today, which is they want story, and they want connection through story,” Stewart said.

You can watch The New Rules of Marketing: Content and Social Media in 2020 panel discussion here: