What happens when every brand on the planet starts doing 'native advertising', 'branded journalism' and 'content marketing'?
What happens when there is untold zettabytes of crap content and 50 billion unwanted apps in the system?
What happens when consumer filters fail?
What happens when an industry relentlessly hypes content like its the magic answer to all things?
In this world, a Present Shock world, where narrative collapse is dinging around our ears and 'moment marketing' is sold as a tired mashup of established thinking is 'brand storytelling' even possible anymore??
The short answer of course is yes. But its getting way, way harder.
The signal to noise deficit is seeing exponential growth. Filter failure is now par for the course for being a consumer. And as Mary Meeker's internet trend update this week shows the upward trend for content sharing is mind blowing. We are now all swimming in it.
As Janet Maslin wrote in her review of Present Shock: "How do we shield ourselves from distraction, or gravitate to what really matters?". The challenge for brands is how to get on the consideration list for that what really matters.
What can brands do? Here are a few pointers:
1. Create more value than you take - its sounds true, it feels true and is probably true. The value exchange for brands and consumers has shifted irrevocably. Brands needs to think more about what value they can give back and how that value manifests itself as 'content'.
2. Don't make crap content - it's crass and binary, but its true: don't make crap content and then expect it to perform. Don't take the easy option and commission average, mediocre content that will not light any fires. Think about a quality threshold and then add another 50% to it.
3. Work with good partners - brands don't have to be the lonely content creator and curator in the corner. Surround yourself with interested parties who want to collaborate. Provide open access. Trial different partnership ideas and see what works.
4. Don't try and be something you are not - you are not Nike and you are not Red Bull. You are not even Oreo. Find your purpose, be true to the values of the brand and stay relevant. Pretensions smell and consumer's noses are getting very sensitive.
5. Make it part of your culture - we have all been bashed around the head about 'social newsrooms' for years now. But they still aren't social. If you haven't adopted a 21st century editorial mindset yet then the clock is ticking. Making it part of your culture means investing in operations, visible leadership and celebrating the cause.
6. Bring the science - you need to know the what, when, why and where in real time. This is hard! So you need some investment in analytics, listening and talent. Bridge that gap and think how things like data journalism and predictive analytics can be harnessed for your brand.
7. To let consumers in you need to let go - the hardest bit for any brand is to imagine any loss of control. Allowing fans or customers access to behind the velvet curtain is still managed very carefully. Take some risks and see what pays.
Sounds easy right?
More than ever clients and agencies need to work together to deliver path finding routes to an ever changing landscape.
Here's to the next 4 zettabytes of content!