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Generosity of brands

In a way this is a follow up on my last blog on the subject of what kind of content is typically shared, by my friends and those who I follow.

But today this was sparked off by a series of unrelated stuff, but around a common theme.

GENEROSITY.

Apparently the French parliament has passed a law allowing employees to donate their leave to a colleague with a seriously ill child. How amazing is that. You have something the other person needs and you give it with no expectation of anything in return. Just the hope that one day should you need it, others will come to your aid.

Then this morning I read about this book Image ‘Congratulations by the way’ by George Saunders.

Saunders says that the greatest gift we can give each other, is the gift of kindness. There’s a tale about a girl in his school, 40 years ago, who no one really liked and people made fun of. He himself was not unkind but wasn’t overly friendly either. He wished he was nicer.

In our life we remember people who are nice to us. Those who show compassion in an ocean of impersonality. We all want to be like them, but it is hard. Our own prejudices, pre occupations and egos come in the way.

I am really lucky to have a large number of people in my life who are generous with their time, advice, affection and just kindness. And to balance it out I do have a fair number of the self obsessed, win at all costs, will let you down type of people as well.

I mention this because if we, as marketers, are trying to build relationships with consumers and believe brands are like living organisms then shouldn’t this much cherished value of generosity be present in brands as well?

Many corporations have Corporate Social Responsibility programs which is their way of giving back to society. While I don’t decry that a teenie bit, it smells a bit of schizophrenia to me. Especially, if it is run as a whole separate operation from the brand organisation.

What if brands were generous with something. Wearing my communications hat on..I would say be generous with content.

Share content that will help your consumers get bigger, better, stronger, healthier, wiser..whatever it is that is at the centre of the brand. Share selflessly. Let consumers see that every contact is not a business transaction.

I understand that new content is hard to come by. Share existing content. Or repackage relevant content. After all how many articles have we all read about losing weight, productivity, managing email, being happy and so on. Yet there’s more and more being generated in this space as consumers seemingly like them.

This, to my mind does two things.

1. It builds a trusted relationship between brand and consumer. The brand becomes a trusted advisor. With the growth of social media the opportunity to build interactions based on this content becomes possible thereby strengthening, and even measuring, the relationship.

2. It generates a ripple effect in the consumer’s life. If she finds it useful and relevant, she will share it with her friends. And there’s no greater credibility than ‘word of mouth’ As the story spreads, so will that of the brand that shared the content in the first place.

If brands can be generous, like we expect humans to, i believe we will value and cherish them as much as we do our family and dear friends.

And it really costs nothing to be generous, does it?

 

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Share of Content Consumption

February 10, 2014 Leave a comment

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Last night I was reading this piece by Nick Bilton, where he asserts that one should stop using smartphones as alarms due to the huge amount of distractions on the device.

I found it rather surprising that people could be so focus challenged. Thinking about it a bit, however, I am not that surprised.

Now a days there’s such a lot of content out there that as normal human beings we are struggling to keep pace. We are afraid that we will miss out on something important. Till we have decent communication filters, which I wrote about earlier this year, we’re going to have to deal with this challenge.

As creators of content, brand marketers have to address this challenge quickly.

The primary way they have been doing this is by creating engaging content. Content that stands out of the clutter, draws the viewer into the story and encourages her to interact with it in some way, even if merely sharing. The latest example is the bud light piece. Missed it? See it here. bud light.

What they’ve done is quite extra ordinary. Made a piece of advertising, through a reality show. This is indeed quite revolutionary.

However, creating content that heightens audience engagement has been on for a while.Think Dove, Coke, Old Spice, Durango and so on.

The issue, to my mind though, is that marketers are still viewing this in the good old fashioned advertising way.

Create a piece of content. Excite the audiences. Then go back to the ways they know well, and return a year later, with the next campaign.

That just doesn’t work any more.

When content availability was low, doing an annual campaign was fine. But now, with that having changed dramatically, marketers need to revisit the annual campaign planning cycle.

I believe a key metric would be share of content consumption.

As audiences today are accessing and engaging with all forms of content, the need to ensure that a minimum level of on going content share is vital for brands to continue to maintain salience. Else it is quickly swept away in the avalanche of twitter feeds, instagram pics and so on.

Volume, like in the old media days is not enough. Think of how many timelines posts you’ve clicked on recently. If it’s not interesting, you move along.

So the share of content consumption is going to be a function of volume of content and engagement value of the same.

This is a new dynamic. One that marketers and agencies are going to have to be prepared for.

Unfortunately, the specialised silos of content creators (advertising agencies) and content distributors (media agencies) are going to be a hindrance to this.

The alarm bells are ringing and the consumers are asking the marketers to wake up. Whether the alarm is on our smartphones, or not, we need to heed it and get our act together.

 

The Content Cycle

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Decades ago when I joined the business I did many ads for my clients.

They were well made by great minds and got more than adequate airing.

But they had extremely limited life spans. When the campaign stopped airing that was it.

A new one came along and wiped out the previous one.

That was pretty much the cycle,

All that started changing about a 15 years ago with the arrival of the WWW and it’s various players.

No I am not going to hold on about the importance of Digital, though it is. But for me more important was the need and ability to revisit what the communications business was about and its infinite possibilities.

Looking back over the more recent few years a picture started forming in my mind about this, what I am calling the Content Cycle.

IMHO The cycle has the following phases

Creation: Right at the beginning is the need to create content. This is what starts the cycle.

Search: Once the content is created it needs to be searchable.

Share: When the content you create is found, enable/allow it to be shared.

Enhance: True believers/lovers of the content will then want to enhance it

Which brings you back to the Search and Share portion of the cycle. And so on.

There, you have it, my version of the content cycle.

Content Creation. Content Searching. Content Sharing. Content Enhancing.

Now if we look what is going on the world of communications you see that at a technology level some players like Facebook operate very strongly in the Content Sharing space.

Google is strong in the Search Space.

Instagram is in the Creation space extending to Share.

And so on.

No one is really happy being in one box. They all want to extend and own the chain. And of course I understand that. The more you own the cycle the greater the ability to monetise the content, which is what the game is all about.

With that backdrop, it is literally mandatory that marketers and agencies when they create ‘advertising’ look down this chain and ensure that they are leveraging all parts of the cycle.

Create content that people want to search, share, enhance which drives more searches and shares.

If you are still creating just a good old fashioned ad then you are just getting ROI for your spends.

P&G with Old Spice seems to be doing a great job in this space.

As is Unilever with Dove.

And Coke of course.

These are just a few brands that come to mind that seem to have understood that there is more to advertising than advertising. It is about creating content that travels down the cycle.

The next time a client evaluates an agency’s work they should ask the Qs

Is it searchable?

Is it shareable?

Will our users try and enhance it?

It is not about digital. It is about the idea. It always is. But Digital enables the idea to live long after the TV has been switched off.

Twitter content analysis

Another enlightening post on the content of Tweets.

Over 40% is what is referred to as ‘pointless babble’.

About 38% is ‘conversational’

And a distant 3rd at 8% was ‘tweets of pass along value’.

So those planning to use Twitter for business, need to be mindful of the cacophony within which they need to operate.

The study findings are within the post and the report is here.

More interesting findings such as

55% of users are women.

72% are passers by.

Teens don’t use Twitter because they think it is not safe.

Please read the report for more details.

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