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Scripps Networks goes for the gold with digital content strategy for Millennials

File this in your folder marked Digital content strategy for the Millennial crowd. (More on the crowd part later.)

In 2015, Scripps Networks Interactive, parent to cable blockbusters HGTV, Food Network and the Travel Channel, launched a new business division: Scripps Lifestyle Studios. Its mission?

Vikki Neil

Vikki Neil

According to Vikki Neil, who oversees the division, a big aim was to get to where most companies and advertisers want to be these days: on the social platforms favored by  Millennials — Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etcetera — with the full digital panoply of videos, photos, blogs and articles.

Two years later, the 125-person division has racked up five billion video views and delivered some 5,000 pieces of original content distributed across seven social platforms, which it updates 24 times a day. That’s a 750% growth — without raising headcount, Neil told an audience of digital strategists at the recent Digital Strategy Innovation Summit in New York.

“We basically went in and said, ‘Hey, guess what guys? Everyone has a new job. Starting tomorrow you’re all going to be content creators,” she said.

Millennial preferences

Along the way, Lifestyle Studios has developed a better sense of how to reach advertising’s new favorite generation. One guiding principle of its digital content strategy: “It has to look authentic. If you create something that is faux, you need to call it faux and make a joke of it,” Neil said.

Another selling point will be familiar to parents of Millennials. “Communal stuff works well — they love a crowd,” a finding reflected in the digital content her division creates for Food Network and HGTV, and on the TV screen, Neil said.

“If you go to the shows, you’ll notice a lot more people now on the TV screens and in the digital content, for sure. You’ll see people doing things with their families, instead of just one person,” she said.

Big holiday gatherings also present opportunities for developing content for Millennials, but with a twist, Neil said. She pointed to a Millennial-focused project her division did for Thanksgiving.

Called Friendsgiving, the digital content targeted an audience that was “not necessarily aiming for the traditional Thanksgiving gathering,” but was interested in having a “communal collaboration”  to mark the occasion. The Scripps’ content featured a gathering where everyone brings something, like a potluck, but “more elevated,” Neil said.  “Packages around that did well for us and for advertisers.”

Digital content strategy expands

The pursuit of an effective digital content strategy continues apace at Scripps Networks Interactive (SNI). Earlier this month, the company announced the acquisition of online food publication Spoon University, started by millennials Mackenzie Barth and Sarah Adler. The company also expanded its 2015 deal with Snapchat’s Discover platform to include new food and home programming aimed at “millennials and centennials who may not yet be hooked on our premium offerings,” the company said.

In the SNI’s May 23 earnings call, the Lifestyle Studios division was called out as the company’s “one-stop shop for all digital content, leading the way for digital and video integration” by Kenneth W. Lowe, SNI chairman, CEO and president.

“The Lifestyle Studios generated nearly 2.9 billion video views. That’s an increase of about 450% over the first quarter of 2016, really a remarkable achievement and just one example of our determination to expand our reach across all devices,” Lowe crowed.

Bonus tip on digital strategy: Read about how centennials will force companies to rethink online privacy.

Questions? Feedback? Email me or find me on Twitter @ltucci.