Content-The Struggle is Real

tug-o-war-information

The short definition of a content strategist, is essentially the person who is charged with keeping the company interesting. Of course the longer definition has to do with content calendars and working with agencies and teams and departments and writers and designers. The reality is that yesterday’s content is gone, today’s will last until about 9 pm tonight and tomorrow is a new day.

The content struggle is real because people don’t want to read anymore. Let’s face it, it’s all about the Gram, and it’s a Gram world and we’re all just living in it. Go look at your metrics or anyone’s metrics, the best stuff? It’s video. Let’s talk about the monolith in the room, Facebook, which has the largest audience of any social network at more than 2.07 billion monthly active users. Did you know that around 100 million hours of video are watched every day on Facebook? Or that more than 250 billion photos have been uploaded to Facebook? That equates to 350 million photos per day. See my point? See what the content strategist is competing with every single day? Content resets every day and UGC (User generated content) is the clear winner.

The overall point to remember about Facebook is that people come to share, to be distracted and to be entertained. In other words, if your plan as a brand is to share cat videos, you’ve got a shot.. For example, the “How to wrap your cat for Christmas 101” video,  has gotten more than 100 million views and over a 1 million shares. That’s what you’re dealing with. We have become visual animals.

 

It is no surprise that ‘32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business,’ and why Instagram has such a high number of engagement.

That’s right, the users, their behavior, and social media sites as a whole have evolved. The real question though is, have brands evolved along with the social platforms? Social media has become such a critical part of business growth, that it can make or break the future of your organization. Getting it right as a channel component in your marketing mix is tantamount to driving successful brand awareness and consideration. To underestimate it’s power and effectiveness is akin to saying that you don’t care what your customers do even though I’m going to show you what they do, how they do it and what they say and what they say about you…

The pace at which social media has evolved is such that most marketers and consumers still don’t fully grasp the fundamental shift it’s created in the way we do business. That being said, it comes down to content and it comes down to compelling content. Visual content. Content that engages. Content that entertains. Cat videos… At the end of the day, what you say can get lost if it’s behind something or supported by something that has ZERO perceived value (or entertainment) by the user.

As soon as marketers realize that social media is a zero sum game in which the push to gain our attention will be simultaneously negated and augmented by the push to divert our attention, they’ll start to understand the strategic and tactical implications of creating content that lasts longer than 24 hours.

Advertisements

Internal Social Networks Versus Social Networks-Where Should You Spend Your Time?

The tug-o-war for your time when you participate on multiple social networks can be difficult. Who get’s it and who doesn’t?  Who get’s the honor of your participation can also affect your impact because THAT will be where you spend the bulk of your time. Where should you spend your time? On the networks that matter to you or on the networks where you HAVE to participate?

Does it matter if you create content or if you lurk?  It might, though either exercise require an investment of your time. The fact is, the more networks you’re in, the more likely that your content is going to suck in some of them. It’s the law of averages. You’re going to devote more time and effort to the networks that matter. For those that are of less importance, the content you create, should you even bother, will be diluted. So does the internal corporate network win then?

It Depends

You see,time, your precious time, is the primary commodity here regardless of where you spend the bulk of it and what you specifically do with it. The less time you have, the more likely you are to mail in your participation in networks that matter less. Your day is already full and now companies want you to participate in and contribute to these new growing internal networks. But what about your Facebook page, Twitter account and your blog?

If you are part of the 70%  who just read and watch stuff, though your time is still sacrificed, it won’t really move the needle on the quality of your limited contact with others in any network. So who get’s it? The benefit of your quality time that is. For those that are part of  internal corporate networks, it can be an issue. There might be the sense of obligation to participate. Even though the reality might be that you’re just going through the motions of participation, because it’s… work stuff. It really depends on what type of social media consumer or influencer you want to be, how you want to move the needle and who wins in the competition for your attention and time.

It almost seems like in the end, it’s a push and no one’s get the benefit of the best of what you might have to offer.

Can monkey’s tell stories?

How important is content to marketing professionals? Back in October, Coca-Cola’s Jonathan Mildenhall,   The VP of Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence, was speaking at the Guardian Changing Advertising Summit when he stated:

“All advertisers need a lot more content so that they can keep the engagement with consumers fresh and relevant, because of the 24/7 connectivity. If you’re going to be successful around the world, you have to have fat and fertile ideas at the core.”

Fat and fertile ideas.  The company’s Content 2020 advertising strategy is to “move from creative excellence to content excellence”.

About 4 months ago I was talking with a colleague of mine who was told in so many words by a client that, “content and or the creation of content can be done by a monkey”. Ouch.  He essentially was dismissing the value of creating content and saying that it can be done by anyone-even a monkey.

If Coke, one of the great purveyors of creative excellence thinks that content will be the centerpiece of their marketing strategy going forward, where does that put the status of the monkey?

Maybe the better question for that client is, Really? You really think that?

Does Good Content Matter Anymore?

We’re content starved. The emergence of tablets and mobile devices has only enhanced our desire to consume digital content. There’s a problem though. When content producers cannot meet the demands of a ravenous public, things can get ugly and the public walks-digitally speaking.

Actually, things already are ugly. Specifically, the dearth of original compelling content in the digital space has caused us to consume subpar content wrapped around good SEO. Don’t you just hate when you click on a compelling search result only to be met with 100 words of link laden dreck? That’s been the case for quite some time now, and only recently has it become clearly evident that what seems to work for most producers of content when they don’t have anything to “share” with others, is to just steal, plagiarize or reproduce someone else’s stuff; and wrap that around good SEO.

Good content is getting lost in the firehose of bad content

But there is a simple reason why they (marketers in general) have this burning desire to push out as much digital content as they can-whether it’s theirs or not. There’s an ulterior motive happening here.  These folks are trying to appease the almighty search engines. Specifically Google, but Bing and Yahoo and all the other 2nd tier engines  figure in as well. Organic search in a nutshell.

Most producers of content are in the business of driving traffic. Traffic equates to advertising which equates to dollars.  You can buy traffic, but short of spending in the 6 figures to create artificial traffic, the only real way you’re going to get organic visits to your sites is to write content and share content that has all of the “right” SEO properties so as to come up high in search. Screw the readers. Forget good content, the goal now is “searchable”, SEO friendly content.

Content producers are unknowingly deferring to search engines instead of people

Does this mean that there are still sites out there pushing fresh, relevant, content that is meant for people to consume, view and share? Perhaps, but it’s a short list. You can look to CNN, USAToday, The New York Times, Techcrunch, Mashable, and MSNBC for examples of purveyors of quality content except that they can be just as guilty of the keyword laden salacious topic and title that is sure to drive readers, shares, comments and traffic.

As the tablet and smart phone markets continue to expand, so will the amount of water downed re-used content. Thus, we need to get back to a time when content mattered, when good content mattered. I’m not so sure we can as long as we’re still trying to figure out who we’re supposed to be creating content for. Is it people or search engines?

Content Versus Conversation

Chicken and the egg?

Tom Martin blew the lid off of this topic and I’m going to add my 2 cents. But let me ask 2 questions. Does content drive conversation? Does good content drive good conversation? The answer is yes and yes. Tom pissed off a bunch or people when he said that social media isn’t all about conversation and you know what? He’s right. Conversations are a derivative of social media. Conversations are not social media.

Some people think engagement for a brand has to revolve around the conversation-No… Conversations are derivatives of engagement. Conversations are the bi-product. If I had to choose how I was going to engage it would be built on great content across multiple platforms-that’s what’s going to create conversations.

Let me quote Tom:

The simple fact is that long-term success in the social space is about more than just being a great conversationalist. Especially when you’re looking at this from a brand perspective. According to numerous research studies, consumers choose to follow, fan and like brands in the social space primarily to get insider deals and to be exposed to cool content. If engagement or conversation is even mentioned, it’s very far down the list.

Why is this so shocking?