What marketers could learn from Unilad

Perhaps not your first point of call for the daily news bulletin or latest marketing insights, Unilad is the product of the media democratisation that digitalisation has allowed.

Self proclaimed as ‘a social powerhouse established by millennials for millennials’, the site specialises in producing content on anything from sport and gaming to food and tech, with their latest inroads into more ‘serious’ content such as news and social issues also proving popular.

But what is it about Unilad that has captured the attention of millions of viewers and caused marketers to sit up and take note?

Know your audience

For many millennials and Generation Zs, Unilad is the go-to site for all their online entertainment needs. Out of the same mould as BuzzFeed and Mashable, Unilad has built an empire of content that regularly generates astronomical viewing numbers and contributes to viral videos and trends.

Unilad’s own site boasts of a ‘Facebook following of over 12 million fans, 30 million monthly unique visitors to the website and over 1 billion video views a month’. Digiday has reported that although Unilad’s closest competitor Lad Bible posted twice as many videos to Facebook as Unilad, Unilad’s posts have been getting twice as much engagement, with their average engagement per post reaching 95,000.

These engagement figures would be enough to make even the most established brand marketers green with envy, which must lead the industry to question what it is that drives Unilad’s success.

The key is in knowing your audience. Unilad has set out to serve the wants and needs of younger generations, with CEO Liam Harrington telling Digiday the high level engagement was due in large part to the fact that ‘mainstream media doesn’t always tackle the issues Gen Y want to hear about.’

Bring in new talent

To make sure Unilad is always on top of the latest trends and relevant on the most appropriate platforms, it is constantly on the look out for new talent to join ranks.

In a recent interview with Marketing Week, Harrington argued that ‘people need to stop being so stubborn and accept advice from someone younger than them because they are going to give you so much more of an insight into their audience than you’ll ever be able to know’.

At only 25 himself, Harrington is keen to point out that, as technology and trends continue to move at such ferocious pace, ‘even I don’t necessarily understand how to speak to an 18- or 19-year-old because they consume content so differently from how I do’.

Harrington argues that bringing in fresh, creative people who, although not necessarily formally trained in marketing, can bring new and exciting ideas to the table and insights from their own experiences is something that long established marketers need to learn, and fast.

Harness your power for change

With such success brings a degree of responsibility, and just as many brands consider creating a CSR strategy, Unilad is now turning its attention to being a source of information on some of the biggest social challenges currently affecting young people.

Recently Unilad used its huge Facebook following to live-stream the Homeless World Cup, a pioneering annual tournament which brings homeless people from over 70 countries to compete together and was held in Glasgow back in July.

It was hoped that Unilad’s involvement would open up the tournament to a potential 1.5bn views, with Unilad’s Head of Video Liam Bagnall telling The Drum ‘we hope to be able to raise awareness of the homeless suffered by people across the world.’

Harrington also told The Drum in their follow up article that Unilad chose to get involved with the initiative because it’s an issue that affects its, mainly male, Gen Y audience - ‘the lack of affordable housing and large private rentals mean young people across the UK are struggling’.

By recognising and highlighting issues close to the heart of its consumers, Unilad looks set to use its success to date to push for social change. Far from being a distant and un-engaging CSR strategy for the sake of doing something good, Unilad is setting the bar high for brands looking to follow suit.

What marketers could learn from Unilad