What authentic content is (truly) why it (really) matters and one of the most important questions brands should be asking themselves.
When asked what the most important metric to consider when assessing work that matters, pioneer of ‘permission marketing’, marketer and entrepreneur, Seth Godin answered, “Will people miss you if you are gone?”
And what counts as work that matters? – work that matters enough for people to genuinely care for it.
According to Ad Age, today, questions pertaining to authentic content have yielded 17 million articles on Google. But how does a brand find its voice and produce meaningful, impactful content in such a content-saturated, consumer-savvy age?
…brands need editors and writers, not simply brand managers, to push the envelope of what’s possible and propel brands forward.
Godin argues that brands need editors and writers, not simply brand managers, to push the envelope of what’s possible and propel brands forward.
Producing authentic content is as much a mind-set switch as it is an action – beginning with employing people who care. It involves deep reconsideration of motives and an overhaul of questions such as “What can I get from this?” to focusing on providing people with content that engages and grows brand love.
Here are three small milestones we think are key to helping your brand work to produce authentic content.
Employ people who care
You need to have people behind brand who care about the content they’re making. These are your internal brand advocates.
There’s a great example Seth Godin cites – the famous marketing success story of Oreo’s 2013, Super Bowl tweet – ‘You can still dunk in the dark’, arguing that while people speak about it as if it was the greatest marketing play ever, they leave out the fact that it took dozens of people to work on it, whereas it should have been – and could have been, put together by one person who simply loved Oreos enough to do something creative about it.
All good work has heart in it – and that starts with the people who make it.
Explore, but be mindful of who you are
Your product or service exists within a broader eco-system that overlaps with other topics and categories.
Selling nappies? Speak to the joys and challenges of parenting. Menswear? The associated lifestyle your target audience aspires to is relevant here.
The areas that your content can encompass can be as close to the functional characteristics of your brand, to the emotional, lifestyle driven factors.
But, be careful not to be disingenuous.
Markerly.com highlight a great example of inauthentic content, marketed under the guise of authenticity: The Sprite Films project.
Did it work? Sure, in that it received coverage. But was it authentic? Not quite.
The initiative called for film students to develop a 50-second short for a chance to work on a contract job for a Sprite brand project, and have their film screened nationally (US) across select theatres.
The winning film was basically a big ad for Sprite. The difference between this kind of content and user generated, brand advocate backed content was that it wasn’t produced out of genuine care for the brand, but under the guise of providing exposure to the winning filmmaker, with Sprite choosing a film that effectively hard-sold their product (ka-ching!).
As Markerly noted, the idea could have worked if Sprite had called out for human interest stories, or if they simply chose a film that wasn’t saturated with Sprite branding. Using user-generated content is a really great cost-effective means to market your brand, but to keep it authentic – it needs to be produced by people who genuinely care about it (and sometimes that means not asking them to do so).
In Adweek’s round up of 2017 digital trends, immersive content was cited as a turning point in the way audiences interact with and consume content.
A way to combat screen-fatigue and rekindle engagement with users, immersive content moves a passive relationship a consumer may have with a brand’s content, to an active one.
It doesn’t have to mean virtual reality, but it does mean producing content that supports genuine engagement between brands and users (you can read more about that, here
Learn more about content marketing (the what and the why) and how we can help you with yours.