For the last couple of years, the marketing industry has been flooded with self-proclaimed social media experts, social media conferences, and agencies. All of whom claim to know everything about anything in the social media bubble. As the years have flown by, the market has, thankfully, matured. Most brands have gone from chasing likes, to actually managing and nurturing their social audiences. Most social media pirates…eh…experts… eventually are exposed and the water gets calmer—as a new wave stirs up.
Is content marketing a new concept?
The wave is called content marketing, and judging by the discussions in the marketing industry—it’s a big one. The funny thing is, content marketing is not new at all. It’s been around for hundreds of years. One-hundred years ago, the Michelin brothers made the Michelin Guide to inspire people to drive more—to wear down their tires faster. Fifty years ago, Guinness made the Guinness Book of Records to give people more to talk about in bars (while drinking Guinness, of course). The list goes on and on.
The only positive thing about this new wave is that it focuses on the most important thing in marketing: good content, great stories.
But do we really need a new hype right now? Do we need fancy new titles, specialized agencies, and big conferences? Can’t we just focus on the one thing we always should: helping our customers communicate better and make more money? Let’s help them build communities, create stories with their audiences, and add value to their lives.
Sometimes that’s done on a screen, sometimes it’s a poster on the tube, and sometimes it’s a piece in the newspaper. What connects them all is great content—which has been the case for hundreds of years. So how do you come up with great content?
Don’t do content marketing, do story marketing
As brands run toward this big thing for instant success and dollars in the bank, I see a classic worrying trend on the horizon. Lots of the content being created is not very good. It’s mostly about the brand and what the brand wants to talk about.
This got me thinking. Maybe it’s our fault? The consultants, the marketers, and advertisers—we who work in the marketing industry.
We talk about new things all the time. The next thing you “must” do to succeed. And brands jump from one leg to the other trying to follow advice. And right now, they are producing a lot of content because that is what we are telling them to do.
But the content they are posting is just the usual bullshit. Selly-sell products.
I think we should stop calling it content marketing. Because everyone can produce content right? Well, not everyone can produce content that really builds relationships. Good stories. THAT’S what we really want them to focus on. We just slapped a fancy “content” label on it, which got everyone all confused.
It really should be STORY marketing instead. Because now, as always, it’s good stories that move people, build relationships, and make people come back to you.
A good example is Airbnb. Instead of nagging their audience about signing up and renting apartments, they focused on inspiring people to travel more, explore, and socialize. That comes out very strongly in everything they put out.