Social Content: Creativity + Common Sense

Bike CrashFor many brands, social content seems to be settling in as the proverbial stick in the spokes that’s slowing down overall forward motion in social marketing. Why?

Frankly, some brands that are, and always were, reluctant to get too deep into social marketing at all use it as a handy excuse. If you can wrap enough fear internally around writing, posting, saying or doing the wrong thing, you can then choke off the creation of any content that might stand out and perform effectively. In the absence of that content, social can safely be kept “in its place.”

Others are relying on their agencies to solve the consistent, non-advertising social content conundrum for them and coming up empty. Some agencies get it and are carving out paths to the marketing future. But many cling to what they know and what’s worked for them in the past. Ad content and entertainment /information content are very different things requiring very different skillsets. Some ad creatives can deliver both. Many can’t. Agencies that still hire exclusively based on traditional advertising portfolios are not positioning themselves well for current and future client needs.

Still others are frozen in their tracks, not knowing where to turn internally or externally for the volume and quality of content generation that’s required. It’s still largely an alien concept…entertaining your customers and putting on “shows” they’ll love. If many agencies haven’t staffed up with the appropriate kind of creative for today’s content needs, brands themselves certainly have not been hiring producers, directors and writers.

Yet some brands and agencies are showing us the way. McDonald's Canada did a series of videos in which they answered customer questions about the food, everything from how to make Big Mac sauce to why burgers in commercials look so much better than the real thing. The sauce video alone got 1.9 million views and counting...with no paid media behind it. It was creative because you don’t see this that often, and it was just plain common sense that if people had questions about the food, millions of others would also be interested in the honest answers. I’m sure McDonald’s would love to keep some things a mystery…but they got out of their own way and scored.

Canon USA and its agency, Grey, launched "Project Imagin8ion” last year, wherein Ron Howard chose 8 user-generated photos, and gave them to his daughter, who made a short film based on them. It won awards. This year they’re doing it again, only this time it’s a film festival of 10 films directed by various celebs. This project replaced tennis players rattling off cameras’ technical specs on TV. It’s creative because it marries UGC with pro filmmakers, and it’s just plain common sense Canon users would want their pictures used in really cool ways. I’m sure Canon loves their technical specs…but they got out of their own way and scored.

For the 2013 Pathfinder, Nissan had famed improv troupe The Second City come up with personalized music videos about the car from online suggestions. The “Improv-tastic Road Trip” sent the videos to the idea-submitters, and they were posted on Pathfinder’s Facebook and YouTube locales. The whole thing was Second City’s idea. It was creative because a brand used an idea from professional fun idea people, and it was just plain common sense because the public loves to laugh, even if the laughs come from a car company. I’m sure Nissan would love to see video of the Pathfinder breezing down a winding road in the forest, leaves flying in the air…but they got out of their own way and scored.

TV Control RoomAccording to ComScore, US viewers watched 36.9 billion online videos in July. 85.5% of the US with Internet access watched, that’s equal to every single person on Earth watching at least 5 videos each. Your audience is waiting, and there’s now a price to pay for dodging the content question. The simple formula is creativy + common sense divided by “get out of your own way and let the cool things happen.”

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