Forget everything you think you know about content marketing.
People don’t care about your brand’s Facebook posts or tweets. And they aren’t even reading your articles. In fact, it’s been argued that consumers have become so adept at ignoring you in favor of listening to other users that brands are now effectively irrelevant.
That’s the bad news. The good news is it’s not too late to turn things around.
One of the dangers of social media for marketers is the lure of those neat little validating digits: retweets, shares, comments, engagement. But what does it mean? If a random joke or pop culture reference gets 100,000 shares but doesn’t relate to your brand’s values or objectives, it might make for a great analytics report at the end of the week, but what has it really accomplished?
The brands having the best time on social media understand the huge potential to use it as a natural extension of their identity. Taco Bell does this well with Twitter. It’s a funny account, but it’s also authentic, which resonates with fans.
Every piece of marketing you produce has to help tell the story of your brand while offering a unique and compelling consumer experience. Storytelling and customer experience are certainly not new, but somewhere in the content marketing explosion of the past few years we decided that creating content around phenomena like International Talk Like a Pirate Day was also somehow relevant. It’s not.
GE has mastered the art of delivering value via social media. Its primary Tumblr alone is a mix of great photos, GIFs and information, but that’s just one element of a social strategy that entertains while promoting science, technology and innovation. Lowe’s “Fix in Six” video series of do-it-yourself tips made great use of Vine for stop-motion animation while offering genuinely useful info.
Customer service offers brands a real opportunity to craft meaningful experiences online. You want to get in on “real-time marketing”? This is where to do it. Citi Bike was able to supply a new pair of pants to a rider who’d fallen off his bike on his way to work and ruined the ones he was wearing, while Nissan bought a used car from an owner who’d created a funny ad. The brands were actively monitoring and participating on social channels and found ways to interact with customers—in fact, provide genuinely helpful services—not just shove content at them.
We have been abusing the technologies that have provided us the opportunity for this incredibly intimate, valuable consumer interaction in the first place. The only way forward is a complete reboot. The era of carpet-bombing content at consumers and hoping something sticks is over; we are now in an era of creating content that actually provides value to consumers. It is time to become fully present in the places and platforms that matter, versus kinda, sorta being everywhere. Let’s all take a collective breath, find the story we really want to tell, and commit to it mindfully, shall we?