Social Media and Content Marketing Lessons from Tyra Banks

Hold on to your butts, folks. We’re about to talk about models. And Content Marketing. Oh, and a little Social Media. Also, did I mention models. MODELS.

I watched the first episode of America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) when it debuted in 2003 (good god, I’m old). And, while I’m not quite a die-hard fan, I’ve caught nearly every one of the 19 cycles that have aired since then.

And lo, Tyra Banks is at once one of the most ridiculous and strangely brilliant people in the biz.

For a former model who makes up words, has had melt-downs on set, and can say with a straight face to contestants, “You had too much tooch,” she certainly understands her medium…and content.

Now, I suspect that the recent brilliance emanating from ANTM (and that we’ll certainly see more of as TV gets more savvy) is somewhat at the hands of PR 2.0 maven (and “If you Have to Cry, Go Outside” author) Kelly Cutrone. When the economy tanked in 2008, Cutrone figured out how to save her traditional fashion PR agency by adding a huge digital component to her repertoire. She now has almost single-handedly changed the way fashion does PR.

This season is a “whole new Top Model”…in that it’s really not all that new: lots of skinny, dramatic, really really really ridiculously good looking unknowns compete for $100,000 in prizes and hugs from Tyra. And yet, it is new, in very important ways.

First the show re-tapped into a core demographic of share-happy Social Media addicted fiends: college students. In this “College Edition” of ANTM, each girl conspicuously represents her university (or online or community college).

Next, the show added a HUGE Social Media component, including scoring by fans at home, a new Social Media correspondent and judge, and cameo appearances from YouTube stars. Some of the core cast members were replaced with newer (and hotter faces), like fashion model Rob Evans, and Katie Perry’s stylist, Johnny Wujeck.

AND NOT THAT YOU CARE about those particular changes (you don’t, and probably shouldn’t)…but! There’s actually a lot you can learn from watching how the show has changed and how it is executing it’s content.

Here are the three biggest takeaways, and how they can improve your content marketing efforts for your business.

Get Fierce with the Hub and Spoke

Banks truly understands the value in a great “hub and spoke” model for content (read more about the hub and spoke from Collyn).

The ANTM hub is obviously the television show, but it also has spin-off shows featuring eliminated contestants on YouTube and Hulu, a rather robust following on Facebook where fans can browse and comment upon photos, updates on Twitter, stuff on Pinterest, a website where fans can upload video…

But for all those “spokes,” Banks and her team understand that none of it really matters unless it all funnels back to the TV show “hub” (where they make a huge amount of money in advertising and sponsorships).

The benefit of using a hub and spoke is that you are able to reach your customers where they are, where (and when) they would most like to be reached. It’s safe to say that not every fan of ANTM is a fan on Facebook; they might be following updates on Twitter instead. And perhaps there are fans who only follow the mini-webisodes on YouTube.

Either way, the takeaway for your business is that a hub and spoke can be very beneficial for driving traffic, raising awareness, generating leads…and reaching as many of your customers as possible where and when they want to be reached.

Of course, your “spokes” don’t have to be as robust or as varied as Banks’. Remember to only use spokes that make sense for your business, and only the ones that you have the time, money and resources to maintain consistently.

Incorporate Fan/Follower/Customer Response back into your Content Rotation


This season on ANTM, the scores are quantitative. In years past, each week’s decision came down to “What do these fashion people—including that man who is currently wearing what appears to be a $6,000 shower curtain–think about your picture?” (and probably also, “What do these producers feel should happen from week to week?”).

This cycle, however, the girls are scored in several areas on a scale from 1-10, with Social Media response and sentiment factoring into the overall score. While it’s not entirely clear exactly HOW they’re gauging Social Media sentiment, they are at least acknowledging the fan base and how it votes each week.

In fact, many fan responses, including comments and video, take up a significant portion of the last few minutes of the show.

It’s content…and it’s content ANTM did not have to create, only curate.

Do the same for your business…it’s all about listening. Have fans posting over and over on your Facebook page about how much they love your service? Feature a great comment as one of your Facebook Milestones.

Have customers complaining about how much they dislike one of your products? Take a cue from Dominos and bravely feature those complaints with charted, noticeable efforts toward change.

It can be scary at first to listen and incorporate fan response into your content marketing plan (because, as you know, people have OPINIONS). But your customers often have fantastic ideas…let them inspire your next piece of content (or an entire campaign).

Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse (Two Snaps and a Circle. Or something.)

The ANTM empire (under the tutelage of Cutrone) is a master of repurposing content.

Episodes become stills. Stills become blog posts. Eliminated contestants get mini-webisodes on YouTube. The entire ANTM team is ridiculously skilled at coming up with a main idea, then spinning off approximately 8,596 mini-ideas.

For your business, this repurposing of content is a valuable lesson. Many clients often get stuck on the notion of “producing content” especially if they’re using multiple outlets to disseminate that content. The good news is, you do not have to create brand new content for each outlet.

Simply create one main idea for your “Hub”, then tailor mini-ideas based off of that main idea for each “spoke” off of your hub.

For instance, if you sell office supplies, you’ll likely have a few big promotional pushes just before the school year begins. Your hub and spoke model (in which I am assuming your “hub” is a blog) might go a little something like this:

For the month of August:

Main Idea/Hub: a blog post detailing the top 10 best new school supply products for elementary school children.

Facebook: 2-3 posts per week specifically geared toward school supplies for elementary school children. (Be sure to use pictures!)

Twitter: 1-2 posts per day with “quick facts” about kids and school supplies

Pinterest: A brightly colored Infographic based on the products in the blog post

YouTube: 15-20 second mini-reviews of each of the 10 products to be featured on your YouTube channel, as well as dripped out regularly onto Facebook and Twitter

Google+: Keyword rich synopsis of your blog post, plus photos of your products with keyword rich descriptions, and keywords incorporated into your (claimed) business listing.

In other words, instead of wracking your brain trying to think of 5 completely different content ideas for each of your channels, think of one big idea, and try to find ways to break up that idea.

So! Even though Tyra Banks really did say something about the “Social Media-ness of it all” on her last episode, don’t be fooled. For a look at one of the best cases of Content Marketing in the biz right now, ANTM scores a 10.

Now that’s something to “smize” about.

All images originally found here

Sarah is a TKG Content Strategist, a veteran blogger of love, life, and unicorns since way back in 2001. On the blog, you can follow her thoughts on content marketing, corporate identity, how to story-tell effectively, and yes, the occasional unicorn.

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