In the beginning there was print. Then radio, then TV, then brochures; good old fashioned marketing brochures. PR were churning out press releases, press packs, images, stills - sexy, gliding, magnificent. Smooth words to hide known cracks.
Then the Internet
Banners... flashing, blinking, vying for your attention. Side banners, top banners, footers: large, small and everything in-between - even the dreaded page takeover.
Web pages with their content to fill, first moving the brochures offline to online (word for word!), and then movies, flash pages, tweening, animated gifs with their spinning ‘buy now’ logos...
Social arrived: First Myspace, then platforms as we know them now. Facebook and YouTube with video in long, short and medium form, then Twitter, and then - faster and faster - with Vine, Instagrams, Snapchats, Google+’ing (RIP), animated gifs (again), Periscope, Meercat, and on and on. Wow, we went from a once in a blue moon updates to continuous updates in the blink of an eye!
And from the very beginning to now we still haven’t cracked the code of how not to create so much crap content it makes our customers' eyes bleed. We are all at it – post here three times a day, post there five times a day, every day, every other day, every single decision needing more and more content.
No brand has enough good content to make it all matter... to make it all count. We don’t have enough money to promote it all, and we have people to please, mothers to impress.
Back to school
Let’s do some math, for fun. Just on social - on images alone, in just one country - you have a standard Facebook, Instagram and Twitter account, just those three. You want to post once a day on Instagram, twice a day on Facebook and four times a day on Twitter, for example (yeah, yeah, I know). That’s seven images a day needed, seven days a week. That’s 49 images a week. Over a month? That’s around 200 images a month, assuming no repetitions.
WE DON’T HAVE THAT MUCH CONTENT.
So what do we do? We litter our social presences and spam our customers with digital landfill. Throw-away junk and empty cardboard boxes that we hope will keep our paymasters happy and show we are doing the job – we have a grip on it, we know what we are doing.
But we don’t. We are just spinning the wheels, keeping the man happy, and wasting our time with crap content that no-one engages with and no-one cares about.
It’s a tough one this but let me offer an opinion: STOP POSTING SO MUCH CRAP.
It takes a hardy soul to say no: “No – we won’t post you picture of our key sales point next to a picnic basket. We wont use modified clip art and stock images from the internet to pad out our week. We won’t... we just won’t.”
We are going to do less, and the less we are going to do we will promote. We will realise social is not (just) a super sexy conversation channel that’s full of rainbows and unicorns, we will realise it can also be a positive advertising channel that just so happens to allow customers to have a voice. We will listen to that voice and make the subsequent content better.
We will favour quality over quantity. We will pay to show people the content we believe is worth it. We will strive for better.
Have a look at what other people are doing – we spend so much time looking in we forget to look out. Most are the same, or even worse. Some of the new adverts appearing on Instagram for instance are just dire – and the irk thrown on them by the community is fully justified.
Crap content is crap content, no matter where you put it, but those that are good - let’s learn. I always like the stuff GE does. For a brand that’s not customer facing they do a great job of innovative and interesting content. Check them out on Snapchat for instance, who else has anything interesting to say on Snapchat?
Have a listen to what people are talking about. You want to sell your ‘XYZ whatchacallit’? What interests your target audience? Can you link to it without looking a fool? Already have one in market? What do they say about it? What do those that say anything about it like and talk about? Can you be part of that conversation? If you can, do, if you can’t, DON’T! There are more listening tools than you can shake a stick at – choose one and have a peek, you might be surprised.
So, repeat after me: ‘Less crap, quality is everything’. Leave some money on the table. Link to sales or brand value, not likes or reach.
Oh – and if you’re feeling frisky – reorganise yourselves FULLY around content strategy and production. That will put the cat amongst the pigeons…