nfl cameraman courtesy fox sports

What the NFL Can Teach Us About Content Atomization

One of the biggest challenges in executing a strong content marketing strategy centers around the difficulty of creating content. You need to post with frequency and consistency, but how can you possibly create that much content? Especially with the rise of video content marketing this type of strategy can represent an enormous investment in time, creativity, and money. But what if it didn’t have to? That’s where the concept of content atomization comes in, a term created by Todd Defen of SHIFT Communications. Content atomization means, “taking a strong content marketing platform or theme, and executing it in many, strategically sound ways.”

Essentially, the premise is to find an opportunity to create one major piece of marketing collateral and then break that collateral down into smaller bits and pieces that are optimized for specific platforms. That brings us to the NFL which, at its core, is perfectly set up for content atomization.

Just about everyone knows, and certainly every sports fan knows, that NFL games are played on consistent schedules. Each of those games present the linchpin for the content strategy that NFL teams employ. You’ve got a nationally televised sporting event that draws tens of thousands of fans, with millions more watching at home. Each one is an investment, on a variety of different levels, and is clearly the product that the league cares most about. But when you’ve got all those players, coaches, and fans gathered together why would you settle for only distributing the game broadcast?

bill rusu dolphins fan
Me doing my best 1980’s Dan Marino impression after seeing the Dolphins play in Miami on Monday Night Football

Before we get too deep into this blog, I should share that I am unabashedly a diehard Miami Dolphins fan. I believe that the 1972 undefeated team is the greatest in the history of the league, Don Shula is the most underrated coach of all time, and Dan Marino was the greatest pure passing quarterback who ever lived. Hopefully that sheds light into why most of the examples embedded below are clips from the Miami Dolphins.

One thing the NFL has done well for years is mic’ing players during games. This is a beautiful example of content atomization because it allows teams to share the big and boisterous personalities of their players, without having to create any additional content. Again, the players are there playing the game. The camera people are filming. All of the content already exists, it’s simply being repackaged for social media. Nothing is left on the cutting room floor (more on this later).

Another example from sports that most everyone is familiar with are game highlights. Simply pulling the most impactful and important moments from a three hour broadcast creates opportunities for social media sharing and engagement in the days and weeks following the game. The clip embedded below has 13 million views. By comparison the average NFL broadcast draws around 15 million views according to Sports Illustrated. While this type of successful performance certainly isn’t common (for social media or the Miami Dolphins) it does show that a content atomization strategy can be very impactful.

So how does this apply to businesses? If you’ve ever had a television commercial created you know that after hours of filming only 30 seconds ever make it to television. Documentary-style interview pieces can take 15 to 30 minutes to film but are cut down to 90 seconds for the web. Your big speaking engagement blows the socks off the attendees that made it to the event but everyone else is out of the loop. In these situations, simply ask the marketing company or videographer who is creating your content to edit smaller pieces for social that use footage that was cut from the main content. If you’re holding an event and can’t have it filmed professionally, at least have a cellphone rolling in the back of the room that can be used to publish the speech on social media.

Don’t leave anything on the cutting room floor. Just because an interview quote or shots from a commercial shoot don’t fit into the macro advertising piece you’re creating doesn’t mean they can’t be distributed as micro pieces of content down the road.

At 898 Marketing we do this frequently. For Greenwood Chevrolet we created a series called “The Extra Mile” in which Greg Greenwood enjoyed a drive around Austintown with members of his team. He interviewed them about their careers and experiences at Greenwood and we posted the videos on social media where they were received with excitement. Over the course of filming multiple episodes, we noticed that Greg had certain tendencies which would make for a great “blooper reel” episode to post on April Fools’ Day.

So as you’re mapping out your content marketing or social media strategy, ask yourself if there are any opportunities to turn one piece of marketing collateral into multiple smaller pieces of content that can be dripped out over a longer period of time.

About the Author

Bill Rusu Headshot

Bill Rusu is the Content Marketing Manager at 898 Marketing and specializes in video content creation and distribution, with over 10 years experience in content marketing. Bill is a Youngstown, Ohio native and graduate of Youngstown State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunications Studies.