With all the conversation on content in the year gone, it was not particularly surprising that two prominent agency initiatives in the first few days of 2016 were focused on content and all aspects surrounding it. But it was strange.
Mindshare and Initiative had put together full day events marked with some very interesting talking points. The agencies had called in their global experts and invited their clients to delve on the subject alongside some of the region’s sharpest on what the way forward should be. That is not the reason why it was strange. For me, the takeaway ultimately was – so much talk of content only signifies that despite all experts around, it is still an area that marketers and the industry at large are not getting right. Which begs the question – why.
I do not know the answer. There is no denying that the content marketing space has greatly evolved in 2015 to become an important tool for brands to include in their marketing strategies, especially in digital. However, with excessive content overflow, and the essential rise of ‘infobesity’, marketers need to keep evolving the strategy from creating great content that can spread like wildfire on its own to finding innovative ways to distribute and amplify content. Not to mention to the right audiences as well.
The whole evolutionary processes aside, the one point that was widely discussed was to narrow content ideation and creation down to what users want. Oldest marketing principle if there was one – giving consumers what they want. And in that, needless to say, the entire gambit of conversation was about social media. Discovery on social platforms has become more important than content throwing up on search.
At some level, this makes sense.
Search has become hygiene, isn’t it? The industry joke of the best place to bury something never to be found is on the second page of search results is, unfortunately, not a joke. If thinking beyond search is indeed the thought process, then the focus on social is taking forward an ongoing conversation. Leaders, chiefs, the big picture people essentially, get it. The disconnect, if that is the word for this, is among those who are actually doing the job. In the offline discussions that followed, it was abundantly clear that for people in the ‘content marketing team’, hygiene was not a place to worry about. The focus on witty, smart, chic, tear-jerking, emotion-evoking, clutter-breaking film that would go ‘viral’ took dominance over anything else. Perhaps that is the right way to operate. Sharability is a mark of success and users have quite a bit to share from these days, even the most connected are choosy. But is digital, that was once suffering from silo-mentality, creating sub-silo mentalities. Should content creation become part of the integrated digital plan that few do follow?
There are indeed many ways to look at how the industry is tackling its need to approach content, and how things will change some more. There may be too many things one is not sure about but I am quite certain that we are going to hear a lot more about content creation, content distribution, innovation in content, and the famous ‘content is king’ quotes in the year ahead. I am looking forward to it all. Who, in this business, does not like good storytelling?