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OCTOBER Article Roundup

Redefining Consumption and Connection

With social distancing becoming more inherent in our daily lives, the ways we’re connecting are rapidly changing. One such shift is in content consumption. And we’re seeing it play a larger role in an effort to close gaps in brands’ relationships with both customers and employees. 

Consumption today is no longer a passive, one-way experience. Customers are their own content generators, actively producing content themselves. Brands are taking note and are now providing the framework for consumers to play within.

New ways of consuming content are enabling brands to create and strengthen community. Organizations are also leveraging content consumption by facilitating more channels of discussion and recreating familiar elements of the past, like water cooler conversation.

But brands need to be conscious of delivering content in ways that fit the customers’ and employees’ needs. For instance, customers and employees expect content that’s served in easy-to-consume portions or that offers them a choice in how and when they engage with the content. 

We also explore how customers are charting their own journeys. To streamline customer experiences, brands are moving from multichannel plans and tapping into omnichannel strategies. As well, employee and customer experiences are becoming more aware of delivering content that connects with younger generations.



key takeaways

Brand Experiences Deepen With Changing Content Consumption

Brands are quickly discovering that it’s not enough to simply produce and share content. Consumers’ expectations have been steadily changing. And the new normal has accelerated the shift. Connecting with audiences now requires brand experiences to understand and keep pace with changes in content consumption. Customers now seek out more active participation and creation in brand experiences. From Spotify podcasts to Tik Tok, consumers are no longer passive spectators but active creators, sharing their own meaning.

Brand Experiences Draw From Generation Creation

As we look more closely into generations, the rise of the creator mindset is becoming a hallmark of Generation Z. In the past, people passively consumed content as a way to pass the time. But streaming content has become a source of informing Gen Z’s identity development. From niche stories to highly realized characters, Gen Z has discovered relatable truths in streaming content and used them to create their own identity. Additionally, Gen Z takes a more active role in creating content. Many Zs identify with a sense of self-expression—being an artist, activist or their own boss. Brand strategies are beginning to embrace this trend. And many brands are looking for ways to support Zs, as Spotify’s Global Trends Report details.


Similarly, brands like Gucci are opening brand experiences to millennial values. By tapping into the generation’s co-creating communities, Gucci has cultivated deeper, more organic brand advocacy among its consumers.

Brand Strategy Looks to Community Through Co-Creation

With audiences’ growing desire for more connection through co-creation, brands are responding by finding content that leverages and brings communities together. Such is the case with r/Layer, a creative platform made available through a Reddit and Adobe partnership. The brand experience provides an online community where users can collaborate in real time over a digital canvas.


key takeaways

Customer Experiences: Content is King of Connection

From special interest communities to video games, consumers are seeking to connect—particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Customer experiences are revealing trends in consumer participation, driving more activity in community-building. We’re also seeing brands serving as platforms as a way to help more people engage, connect and better understand themselves.


The opposite is also true. As machine learning and algorithms are becoming increasingly embedded in the customer experience, hyper-personalization is rising as a strong value proposition for brands. We take a closer look into how brands are moving past standardization to designing experiences around individual customers. And Netflix’s new interactive show is leading the way.

Customer Experiences Provide Content Within Content

Brands have recently started viewing customers with a new lens. One that shifts its sights from passive consumers to active creator-consumers. Some brands are already incorporating the change into their customer experiences via content. Spotify is already testing a new podcast format. Typically, listeners only hear brief music samples during podcasts. The new format will allow audiences to listen to entire music tracks during shows, giving podcast hosts full usage without copyright restrictions.

Hulu Viewers Go From Remote Control to Ultimate Control With Ads

To offer consumers a more personalized experience, Hulu has recently launched choice-based ads. The streaming service will create a customer experience that will allow viewers to select which ads they prefer to see from a brand. The move reflects a viewer-first approach. By giving viewers choices, advertisers can connect with consumers with more engagement and less disruption. And Liquid is already playing a part, premiering our first choice-based ad campaign on Hulu’s new feature.


AOC Joins Forces With Twitch: Engaging With Gamers, Connecting With Voters

From one-way to two-way communication, consumers want content they can interact with while getting to know brands. In one recent and successful example, the brand was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the platform was Twitch. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez joined others on the livestreaming game platform for a round of Among Us. Leading up to and during her gaming, she directed Twitch audiences to voting resources and polls. AOC’s Twitch debut ultimately drew more than 400,000 viewers.


Audiences Rewrite the Storytelling Model

For years, brands have taken the mantle of storytellers. But some are investing in “story framing.” This emerging construct offers consumers space within a customer experience to affect their own content. And Netflix’s new interactive show is leading the way. Its choose-your-own-adventure format puts a survival show host’s fate in the hands of viewers. Consumers are empowered to take an active role, deepening their engagement and connection with the brand that’s providing the story framing structure.



key takeaways

Creating Connected Remote Workforces Through Content

With workforces continuing to work from anywhere, companies are developing both content and delivery platforms to replicate working from the office to support connection and community with employees.

Turning Virtual Onboarding Into a Reality That Works

A Gallup client recently transitioned their onboarding process from exclusively in-person to entirely remote. Despite the virtual format, the company focused their process on building relationships through a number of personalized virtual experiences. For example, the organization facilitated daily social interactions between new hires and their colleagues and mentors. 


The overall employee experience allowed new people to develop key relationships and closely connect with the organization’s purpose. It all proves that the consumption of an organization’s content may change; however, the company’s core values should be maintained.

How the Water Cooler Has Been Integrated Into One Company’s Intranet

Companies are discovering that physical spaces like the breakroom, water cooler and copy machine represented an important way for employees to socialize and connect. To adapt, organizations are transforming some of the lighter, more human elements of their workplace into new, consumable content. 


Nautilus Insurance Group developed fun, snackable content to keep employees connected, feel inspired and stay productive. To tackle their re-imagined employee experience, Nautilus redesigned their intranet to provide more interaction as a platform that featured fun photos, PG-rated jokes, employee milestones, and more. Their redefined intranet ultimately allowed employees to consume content that offered entertainment, connection and a sense of community.

Employee Experiences Serve Content to Employees’ Tastes

It’s essential for organizations to design employee experiences around the realities of working from home. And creating content that’s quick and easy to consume is key. Internal communications and content in the form of bulky mailings or large file sizes can present heavy burdens on employees’ busy schedules, leaving employees distracted and less productive. 


Navy Federal Credit Union has applied this insight to its own employee experience. Its celebrated leadership training program has served as a coaching forum where leaders across the company could get one-on-one mentoring and have access to 360-degree reviews. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the program was transitioned into snackable 10 – 30-minute modules to accommodate tight schedules while working remotely. Employees are free to access the courses whenever they choose. 

Personalized Content Can Help New Hires Feel a Part of the Team

With most new hires starting their new jobs at home, creating an employee experience that fluidly and thoroughly onboards employees is critical. That’s why onboarding elements like personalized communications and introductions to leadership and company objectives should be made as consumable as possible for new employees. 

Much like for customer experiences, creating content for the onboarding process needs to be designed around a virtual, work-from-home lifestyle. More specifically, organizations should make content that’s both bite-sized and accessible from mobile devices—as people know and expect.

Employee Experiences Tap Internal Influencers to Rally Colleagues

Considering the fractured nature of working remotely, how can companies effect positive change? Surprisingly, the answer may be found in influencers. By identifying, engaging and activating with an outsized influence on other employees, leaders can create internal “force multipliers” for positive messaging. Employee influencers can help with a myriad of employee experiences, like rolling out a new workflow platform, overhauling a work-from-home policy or adding team engagement tools. And much like the consumer world, employee influencers’ authenticity can help drive your brand from within.




Meet the Generation Working to Rebuild Society — Spotify Advertising, @SpotifyAds

“Our generation is going to be known for creation...65% plan to be, or already are, their own boss.”


The Internet’s Largest Collaborative Canvas Returns to Reddit with r/Layer ‘Season Two’ in Partnership with Adobe — RedditBlog, @reddit

“Ultimately, more than 200k users engaged with r/Layer, creating more than 150k layers by the end of the five-day period. It became one of Reddit’s most successful brand partnerships of 2019 — and within minutes of last year’s activation closing, users were begging for its return”


What Brands Have Perfected Digital Storytelling in China? — JingDaily, Adina-Laura Achim @JingDaily

“Besides its style revamp, embracing millennial values in all its communication efforts contributed a great deal to Gucci’s success in the Middle Kingdom,” says Retail in Asia. “Gucci has tapped into the Gen Next by co-creating communities and thus, increasing brand evangelism.”


Streams of Consciousness: Gen Z’s Self-Identification Through Streaming Content Volume 3 — Hulu Advertising @hulu

“Not only does niche content allow Zs to dive deeper into their long tail of interests, but it also pushes their creative limits and explores rabbit holes of potential interests, something they’re accustomed to doing digitally. After all, as of 2019, there were already 31 million channels on YouTube, which marks a 25% uptick in choice from just the year prior.”



Spotify Will Let Its Podcast Hosts Include Full Songs in Their Shows — The Verge, Ashley Carman @verge @ashleyrcarman

“The company announced today that it’s testing a new podcast format that’ll allow podcast listeners to hear entire music tracks during a show, as opposed to a brief sample. Hosts will also be able to create shows in this format through Anchor, the Spotify-owned podcast creation app. The new format effectively makes Spotify the only podcast platform where hosts can include entire songs in their shows without having to worry about copyright.”


Hulu to debut new ad formats in 2020 focused on letting users make choices, transact with advertisers — TechCrunch, Sara Perez @TechCrunch @sarahintampa

“In the case of the forthcoming choice-based ads — a sort of “choose-your-own-adventure” for advertising — viewers will be able to select which ads they want to see from a brand. For example, users could choose to see ads about ski vacations from a travel company, or they could watch an ad about beach getaways. They could even pick which option they wanted with their remote."


AOC met more than 400,000 young potential voters on their own turf: Twitch — Vox, Allegra Frank @voxdotcom @LegsFrank

“But she isn’t just lecturing her fans and constituents about how voting is their civic duty. She’s also reaching out to them in much more fun, organic ways — like by offering to play video games with them in an effort to raise electoral awareness. And the idea to leverage a game as big as Among Us on a platform as big as Twitch with participation from well-established Twitch celebrities was tailor-made to get potential voters’ attention.”


You Can Choose How Bear Grylls Almost Dies in Netflix’s New Interactive Show — Vice, Ashley Carman @verge @ashleyrcarman

“Grylls is starring in You vs. Wild, a choose-your-own-adventure survival show that will be Netflix's first interactive TV series for adults.. The first season is set to premiere next month. The streaming service announced the news Monday with a YouTube video that is also, unsurprisingly, interactive.”


Omnichannel vs. multichannel: What’s the difference and who is doing it? — The Future of Commerce, Branwell Moffat @FutureofCEC

“Today’s consumer will script their own journeys across the multiple channels and touchpoints, and every one of them matters. Forcing a customer to stick to a single channel or making them start at the beginning when switching channels creates friction and impacts the customer’s experience … Nike is a fantastic example of using omnichannel to drive more sales and improve CX. Using personalized suggestions and meshing with in-person retail, each step of the customer journey has been enhanced to optimize CX, with great results — they’ve seen digital revenue growth of 35%.”



Redefine (Don’t Redesign) Your Culture for the Virtual Workplace — Gallup, Iseult Morgan & Adam Hickman @GallupWorkplace @eliteleaders15

“Reflect on how you want your organization's distinctive purpose, brand and culture to be applied differently in the new environment. Redefine the behaviors and rituals that codify cultural values and make sure these are reflected across the employee experience.”


Inventive Ways to Keep Employees in Touch and Engaged — The Flip Side Communications, Gina Butchin @TheFlipSideComm

“Cooler Conversations. An interactive section of the intranet was launched to provide a mini-break from the day-to-day with the aim to infuse a bit of levity with questions like — what was your first job and tell us your favorite PG-rated joke. A new question is posted every other week. Participation is voluntary, but the virtual touchpoints are priceless.”


Navy Federal: How the Largest U.S. Credit Union Keeps Employee Experience Shipshape — CMSWire, Sara Fister Gale @cmswire

“‘The content is intentionally broken into small chunks that can be completed in 10–30 minutes to make it easy to fit into their already busy days,’ he said. And employees are free to access any courses that interest them. ‘If someone wants to move into leadership, the leadership training is there for them to use,’ he said. The library of content also offers IT training and certification courses as well as soft skills training around management and communication.”


Who Are Your Organization’s Influencers, and How Do You Identify and Activate Them? — Forbes, ServiceNow @Forbes @servicenow

“By identifying, engaging and activating their employee influencers — or, those team members who carry an outsized influence on other employees — leaders and executives can create internal “force multipliers” for positive messaging.”

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