In December last year we had a look at the rise of a little thing called sponsored content. Heard of it? We’re sure you’ve been subjected to a piece or two in one form or another online or elsewhere, but this newest trend may come as a surprise.
The Australian Taxation Office has recently jumped on the sponsored content band wagon. But not in the way you may think.
The ATO has come out with a pretty creative way of grabbing the attention of Australian taxpayers through social media. This is a brave new world for the government agency that would otherwise be talking to a brick wall when it comes to teens and twenty-somethings. They’ve come out with what is essentially a superannuation factsheet using the medium of BuzzFeed.
It’s been going on for a while, just not as much here.
Back in December, the Financial Times reported that there are far more paid news stories than we’re probably aware.
In fact, $800 million was spent in the United States alone on sponsored news content last year and is expected to reach $3.4 billion in 2018. The Financial Times used the example of an article that appeared on the Mail Online website. Here is the headline: Beaten and starved, 40-year-old man kept as a slave in ‘concentration camp’ conditions FINALLY sees his captors brought to justice.
Although a newsworthy article and perhaps a frightening story of terror met with staunch human resolve, the story was in fact only published because it was paid for. The bill was footed by the Home Office, whose name was published above the article, reading: Sponsored by Home Office.
The story was paid for by the British Government. Why? To raise better awareness about modern examples of slavery.
How the ATO decided to get ‘hip’ with social media in 2015.
Back to the ATO and BuzzFeed for a moment, you may be asking yourself why a government agency is concerned with social media ‘listicles’ at all. Well, the simple answer is that they’re not—the audience they’re wanting to target, however, is.
The title of the article says it all: Your Superannuation Explained, But With Dogs.
At the time of writing this article, there had been 546,916 daily unique Australian visitors to BuzzFeed. The majority of these visitors are by far under the age of thirty. Content is made up of simplistic language, with a high focus on the use of slang words, reference to memes and internet pop jargon. Listicles are articles that are essentially lists—made up of very little, punchy text and accompanies with a number of images. These images are usually GIFs, memes or even videos.
For the ATO, BuzzFeed was the right tool for the job.
The ATO chose to communicate facts about superannuation—something that most young Australians would obviously find dry—through funny dog GIFs and simple, casual language.
They engaged their audience by speaking their language and, importantly, taking the ATO’s message directly to one of the millennials’ mediums of choice.
You can see the article by clicking here.
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