4 Things to know to improve your content in 2024

Lessons from the frontline: it's not all about AI

What can we expect for content in 2024 with the rise of AI? Surprisingly, the best lessons learned have nothing to do with AI or automation. The best content is real and emotional; it's all about connection.

Let’s dive into the experience and vision of Robert Knibbe, former Head of Digital Marketing for Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race and of Red Bull Netherlands, companies that absolutely nail the content game. For many years, he managed huge productions with an in-house team; nothing short of saying he knows all about inspiring organic content.


Content is about human connection; also in 2024

If I can summarize the interview with Robert, I'd say: ‘Good organic content is all about trying to spark emotions.’ 

Produce in-house for better planning and prioritization while staying on brand, mobile-first, real, raw, and don't play it safe.


Robert Knibbe, former Head of Digital Marketing for Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race and of Red Bull Netherlands

Good organic content is all about trying to spark emotions. Don't be afraid to make mistakes; the biggest fault brands make is to play it safe.'

Robert Knibbe, former Head of Digital Marketing for Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race and of Red Bull Netherlands

The key takeaways

Below, you’ll read all about his lessons learned and recommendations to share with you so you can thrive and not make the same mistakes he made. 

If you want to rock your content in 2024, this is what you need to know.

  1. Planning and prioritization
  2. Mobile-first
  3. Keep it raw and real
  4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Please keep in mind that all of the information below is based on Robert’s experience with producing that sexy, highly emotional, and engaging content for sports and events. His lessons learned are not really for your average blog on the product features to fill the top of your sales funnel.

Robert shares his insights based on his personal journey and the experiences he has gathered over the years. While he has been associated with some phenomenal brands, the views he expresses are uniquely his and do not represent any official stance of the companies he has worked for.


1. Planning, prioritization and being on-brand

The first advice of Robert is to set up an in-house production facility and team. Of course, he’s quite biased as he had his own team, yet he’s got a legit point.

If you have an in-house team, it gives you so much more options and flexibility to produce the content you envision. You have an end-to-end responsibility, and you can manage the brand identity so much better.

If you work with an agency, there is always a discrepancy between the brief and deliverable. The agency doesn’t have the in-depth understanding and connection with the brand as you do. Agencies don't know the brand as well as you do and could miss out on those details that really matter to make your content even more engaging and on-brand. Not even to mention the budget and time; you’ll need to correct that and get those details in.

Next to that, it’s easier to prioritize what content to push first and have a very short time to market. Yes, an in-house team requires dedicated resources and budget, yet if you want to produce highly emotional, timely, and engaging content, it’s worth the investment; in the end, it’s cheaper than hiring an agency.

If Robert did work with agencies for very large video productions, the agency usually was responsible for the master production, and he and the in-house team did all the social cuts and edits for all channels.  So, he kept control of the super-fast content that matters for the first engagement with the audiences.

So, if you have your in-house team, it’s much easier and faster to plan, manage, and finetune the details of the production. If you do work with an agency, make sure you are in control of the social content and the first publications.


Tip: the value of an intern

If you have a Gen Z target group, your interns play a vital role in your team. Not because interns are cheap and an easy way to add resources to the junior team. It’s because interns are Gen Z and could give you the feedback you need to improve. They know what’s going on, what are the trends, channels, and hacks; they are in the middle of your target audience—getting a new intern every half year fresh up the team and vision on what to produce and what not.


2. Mobile-first

For the type of content Robert produces, being mobile-first is all-important. There is no way his content is not optimized for mobile. In our fast-paced world, this is key.

This should be the standard. Not only Gen Z and Millennials are mainly on the mobile. Gen X and even Boomers are glued to their phones. Who consumes content on a laptop nowadays? 

That means

  • Give the mobile phone a crucial position in your video shoots, also the high-end productions
  • Vertical video for social, also on YouTube with YouTube shorts. Use short and snappy text on-screen when possible
  • Raw video and visual masters that are shot in such a way you can easily cut, zoom in, and edit to square and vertical. This goes for stills as well as for videos
  • Social first scripts with an action shot in the first 3 seconds is key! 
  • Excellence in micro-copy, captions, and headlines
  • Use plain and human language that’s easy to read. Refrain from long sentences, jargon, and big chunks of text that go on and on and on
  • Final review and sign-off in the same way as your audience sees it: on mobile. Don’t approve content on your big-screen laptop when your audience sees it on their small-screen mobile.
  • Use the data! In YouTube and TikTok, you can see retention rates of your videos; always analyze when people drop off in your video and try to use these learnings in your next post

I don’t need to explain this any further, do I?


3. Keep it raw and find hooks

People want authentic experiences. Especially for the highly engaging, emotional content, it should not be too polished, and make sure you have a clear hook that grabs the attention of your audience. You want to spark curiosity, emotions, and, hopefully, an interest in more content. 

Keeping it real and raw meant catching not scripted moments. Hearing the sound of the wind in the microphone with a bit shaky handheld mobile recorded video instead of a polished, over-edited video gives your audience the feeling that they are there with you. The little flaws show authenticity and personality and give the brand a human face. 

That said, of course, you do use a stabilizer while filming, a microphone for better sound quality, and at least have a script so you have an engaging and well-thought-through storyline. Always edit before you publish; the first seconds of the video are absolutely crucial for engagement.


But not too raw; the devil is still in the details and using AI

A small side note from me: don’t go too far in being raw. It mustn’t look as if you don’t care. The devil is still in the details.

For example, it’s great to use AI for automated subtitles during the broadcast of a live event like the CrossFit Games. As a viewer, you do notice. The subtitles are crappy, filled with mistakes, missing punctuations, and a few seconds of asynchrony with the live broadcast.  

For your final production, if you stick to AI-generated subtitles, you’re cutting corners. It looks like if you don’t care if you rely on AI for subtitling without reviewing and correcting.


4. Biggest mistake: playing it safe

According to Robert, the biggest mistake brands make with content is to play it safe. Repeating what worked before and doing that again and again. If you play it safe, you are standing still. You’ll stop innovating, discovering, and evolving with changing audiences and platforms.

We are in a new era, fast-paced, with an eye for detail and authentic connection. Quality over quantity: it’s not about the volume and metrics; it’s about making a difference and creating an impact.

Gen Z (and others) are more interested in the relevance of brands for them and society. If you produce inspiring content, you bring your brand to life. So, you have to find the right hook and be legit in your story. Show that you care and that you listen to what’s going on.

You can measure your impact in the comments. Do they react, and does your content touch them? There’s nothing rawer and more authentic than social comments and the most valuable feedback you can get. 


Here's the golden nugget of wisdom 

Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Yes, sometimes you fail, but then you learn and adapt. The most significant challenge is the fear of errors. And it’s the errors, the flops, and the lessons that shape our content and connection to your audience.



Final thoughts

Learn from the frontline—those who produce and grind the work. You can read and write as much about content and AI as you want; nothing beats real-life experience.

The four recommendations by Robert are

  1. Planning and prioritization
  2. Mobile-first
  3. Keep it raw and real
  4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

With these lessons learned in your pocket, now it’s your time to shine and rock your content in 2024.

Shout out to Robert Knibbe for sharing his insights!