Friday Dec 07, 2012

The Social Content Conundrum

stageHere’s the social content conundrum: people who are not entertainers are being asked to entertain.

Despite a world of skilled MBAs, marketing savants, technological innovators, analysts, social strategists and consultants, every development in social for brands keeps boomeranging right back to the same unavoidable truth. Success hinges on having content creators who know how to entertain the target audience.

You can’t make this all about business-processes. You can’t make this all about technology, though data is critical and helps inform content. This is about having human beings who know the audience, know what they’d love to see, and can create the magic that will draw and hold them.

Since showing up in the News Feed is critical for exposition and engagement, and since social ads primarily serve to amplify content that’s performing well, I’m comfortable saying content creators are becoming exponentially recruited and valued. They will no longer be commodities. They’ll be your stars.

Social has fundamentally changed the relationship between brand and consumer. No longer can the customer be told to sit down, shut up, and listen to our ads. It’s now all about what consumers are willing to watch or read. Their patience for subjecting themselves to material they aren’t interested in is waning.

Therefore, brands must now be producers of entertainment and information content, not merely placers of ads within someone else’s content. Social has given you a huge stage, with an audience sitting out there waiting to see what you’re going to do. What are you putting on that stage?

For most corporate environments, entertaining is alien. It’s risky and subjective. Most operate around two foundational principles: control and fear. To entertain and inform with branded content, some control has to go. You control the product. Past that, control is being transferred into the hands of the consumer. The “fear first” culture also has to yield. If you strive to never make waves, you will move absolutely nothing.

Because most corporations don’t house entertainers, they must be found then trusted. They’re usually a little weird. The ideas they’ll bring may seem “out there.” But like any business professional, they’ve gone through the training and experiences that make them uniquely good at what they do, even if you don’t quite understand them. It’s okay. It’s what the audience thinks that matters. Get it right, and you’ll be generating one ambassador after another who’s proud to be identified with the brand and will regularly consume and share your content.

Entertainment entities are able to shape our culture and succeed beyond their wildest dreams by being beholden to one thing…what the public likes and wants. When brands put the same emphasis on crowd-pleasing content, they too will enjoy brand fame the likes of which they’ve never seen. The stage is yours. Now get out there and go for that applause.

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