Three of the brightest minds in content marketing gathered at General Assembly in New York City on Wednesday for a panel discussion titled Design, Technology & The Future of Marketing. 2014_8_13_NewsCred_©LauraJuneKirsch-6750Photo by Laura June Kirsch The talk featured Annie Werner, who works on content strategy and community at Tumblr, Emersson Barillas, Executive Creative Director, Integrated Marketing at the Atlantic, and Stew Langille, Visually’s own Co-Founder and CEO. Sumit Guha, VP of Engineering at NewsCred, acted as moderator. The event served to highlight NewsCred’s partnership with General Assembly. This “global partnership,” said Guha, strives to “educate people on how to become better marketers.” If Wednesday’s event was any indication, the partnership is well on its way towards creating smarter, craftier, and more effective marketers. Here are some of the highlights:

“Platform, platform, platform” – Emersson Barillas

While the panel’s participants represented three different areas of the content marketing world, all three noted the power of the platform. In a crowded media landscape, different platforms represent both a marketing challenge and an opportunity for massive success. Brands and marketers must speak to consumers differently depending on the platform they use, and each platform offers another shot at success. At Tumblr, Werner often deals with the question ‘what’s the point of tumblr if people already follow my brand on Facebook and Twitter?’ Her response is simple: “Repetition works,” she said. “Saying the same thing multiple different ways on different platforms is effective.”

“We are deciding in very small increments of time what is exciting to us” – Stew Langille 

It’s no secret that the competition for consumer eyeballs has never been stiffer. One of the best ways to combat this is quickly becoming the marketing world’s worst kept secret – microcontent. “A visitor is going to make up their mind in the first four pixels if they’re going to stay or not,” Barillas said, without a hint of hyperbole. To borrow Langille’s analogy, using a “bite-, snack-, and meal-sized” approach through microcontent can help grab consumer attention and turn them into loyal customers. After the initial bite-sized grab for attention, return later with snack-sized and meal-sized pieces of content to build loyalty and favorability for your brand.

“People want their online lives to coexist [with their offline lives]” – Annie Werner

One of the more interesting parts of the night occurred when the conversation turned briefly to online/offline behaviors. While the Internet is often seen as a space to escape the normalcy of everyday life, Werner sees the opposite with Tumblr users. Instead, she sees users utilizing the platform as an extension of their everyday lives. Gone is the era of screen names and online forum handles. Today’s consumers are more likely to directly link their personal lives with their online activity, which could represent an opportunity for marketers.

“We’ll always tell stories. How to craft them is the important part” – Emersson Barillas

Marketing must always be linked to storytelling – there are no two ways about it. Storytelling is such an innate, essential part of the human experience that a good story will resonate no matter how it is told. Content marketing is perhaps the leading trend in the marketing world, but Barillas was quick to remind the audience that marketers must create content with a compelling story in mind, rather than creating content just to create content. One of the best ways to do this is to use visual content such as infographics: “Infographics inherently show their value, immediately,” Barillas said, easily conveying a story through visuals. Crafting content is as important, if not more important, than what platform it runs on or what format it inhabits.   Jon Salm is an associate client analyst at Millward Brown Digital in New York City and a freelance data journalist in the marketplace. He has a bachelor’s degree in English from Washington and Lee University. You can follow him on twitter @Jon_Salm.