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Northside Festival: Top 5 Trends and Takeaways

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The Northside Festival is an annual eight-day summer showcase celebrating emerging “music, film, food, ideas and entrepreneurship” in Brooklyn. The Charles had the opportunity to attend for two days of content-focused seminars, hearing fantastic speakers from NYTVoxMTVWiredVimeo, and many others. There was much to learn, but for those who couldn’t attend, here are some of the top trends and takeaways from the event.

Image by The Charles
Image by The Charles
Image by The Charles

Trends are everything these days. It’s what keeps you ahead of your competition while remaining innovative. And with each year, trends grow and change. 2015’s trends already seem obsolete with how fast the industry is moving. Here are the top five content-specific trends from Northside 2016:

  1. Authenticity is everything. That means connecting brands to the correct themes, media personalities, tones, and visual styles so that they come off as true to themselves.
  2. Escapism” is the term to encapsulate in 2016. Promoting “Escapism” can be very powerful towards youth engagement and retention.
  3. With content in such mass-production online and TV, the financial and technical barriers for creating content is at an all-time low.  Therefore, expert storytellers and writers are becoming the most valuable people right now for skillful content creation.
  4. The more technical capabilities that a user has available to interact with media, the higher the retention will be. For example, Snapchat’s retention and time spent on the app drastically arose once filters and custom overlays were added.
  5. To maintain high authenticity, brands are trying to expose themselves less and less in their ads and videos. This can lead to sometimes just a quick logo as the end of a video. At some point the question is asked, “Is it even still branded content”?

Northside was incredible for both the Visual Designer and web geek in me. I walked away with eyes wide open to new technologies and ways of perceiving content. Here are the top five takeaways that I had upon leaving:

  1. In lieu of the final trend about brand exposure, you don’t need to hide your brand to maintain authenticity. If the content is smart, interesting, and product focused, then your content will have a better engagement with consumers. Hiding your product until the end suggests it’s not appropriate to be there. Putting your content in the spotlight in a unique, interesting, and engaging manner will show an authentic, true-to-your-nature brand. So, be true to your brand. We’re not all lifestyle brands in the end.
  2. GIFs are far from a fad. Giphy showed that GIFS can be stronger forms of communication than print, imagery, and videos at certain times. They are more visually compelling and stronger communicators than print or image, all while getting to the point far faster than video. They are better at communicating the abstract-like “quirky love” than other mediums, and their autoplay repetition reinforces their communication.
  3. “Minimercials” from MikMak are a new manner of bringing revenue to native ads that demonstrates stronger numbers than standard promotional mail or retargeted promotions. These custom-made, short infomercials appear inside the publisher’s content and pair directly with the content to give users an engaging, useful experience.
  4. Experiment with platform updates to create powerfully unique and press-worthy projects. When a company (YouTube, Snapchat, etc.) updates their platform with new features, there is a massive opportunity to innovate on it. For example, with YouTube’s updates, annotations brought “Choose Your Adventure” videos, comments brought custom-comment manipulations, and 360cams brought interactive brand campaigns.
  5. Homepages for online entities and brands are dead. Platform distribution is the new homepage. More and more often, online users are seeing your brand and updates through their platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, rather than directly going to your homepage. Be mindful to how your brand appears distributed on platforms a bit more than that next Homepage update.