Writing on Six Pixels Of Separation, Mitch Joel’s article And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Content outlines why the majority of branded content is coming off as little more than a never ending sequence of thinly-veiled advertorials and thus is failing to engage anyone, let alone your critical potential consumer base. By describing how too many brands are barraging their followers with a continuous avalanche of flat and bland content, Joel points the way to methods that anyone can utilize to begin crafting truly exceptional social media communications.
Championing the Clarion Call of Controversy
Joel champions the cause of the clarion call of controversy in the belief that a commitment to apathy is the death knell for any branding effort. Far too much brand content is so unremarkable and unmemorable that it actually ends up being counterproductive to branding efforts and only succeeds in boring and distancing their customer base. Adopting an edge to your content, ensuring that no one can ever accuse you of playing it too safe, can be the key to achieving dynamic relevance to your customers.
Embrace Controversy but Stop Short of Gaffearamathons
Many brands have crossed the line from controversy to gaffe: Kenneth Cole linked the Arab Spring to their Spring Collection; HabitatUK hijacked unrelated popular hashtags like #iPhone; #McDStories turned out to be a lightning rod about the pink slime allegedly in McDonalds’ patties; Chrysler took a potshot at Detroit drivers; and PR agency Ketchum insulted its own biggest client FedEx’s hometown of Memphis. And of course let’s not forget Gilbert Gottfried’s infamous tweeted jokes about the Japanese Tsunami victims, which cost him the AFLAC goose’s last quack… or just about any tweet from Chris Brown. As long as you keep your controversy strictly within the bounds on this side of the border to outlandishness, however, your social media followers will see your brand as innovative and edgy, which most certainly beats stultified and boring.
Craft Content as an Integral Consideration of Your Brand Legacy
In the article, Joel discusses the impact and importance of legacy and this is surely an extremely underrated (and far too infrequently discussed) aspect of modern online branding. Most social media marketers live strictly in the now and fail to ponder the longer term issues of where the marketing messages of today will be driving the brand tomorrow. Joel points out that the most established publishing companies spend an inordinate amount of time crafting and shaping their overall legacy in order to build the brand image and reputation of their titles. They strive to ensure that all of their content lives up to the standards established throughout their history and that it is worthy of being considered a foundation for future content. Joel believes that most brands are not truly serious about what they are shoveling out to the consumer and that they are failing at the challenge of providing serious, opinionated, unique and polarizing content that is worth sharing.
Shun Pedestrian Dreariness in Favor of Things that Make You Go Hmm…
Joel sums up his thesis by the caveat that “content is about the brand legacy that you will leave” and this is essentially an accurate summation. If you are looking at the content your brand is foisting upon the unsuspecting public as nothing more than fodder for the marketing machinery, then you are not only just failing your customer base but you are sabotaging your own brand’s present and future. Your brand cannot possibly be all things to all people and any attempt to ride that steady middle path is going to repel your customers instead of attracting them. No one has ever shared content that they considered pedestrian and dreary, as they prefer to bring to the attention of their social circles content “that makes you go hmm…” in the words of past and future talk-show icon Arsenio Hall.
Joel’s article should be required reading for any graduate of Online Marketing 101. Only then could we all be finally assured that our brand messages are challenging and impactful instead of gray and stultifying!