Let’s Talk about What Content Connects!
The kind of content that connects is the kind that brings people into the story. Take this one and a half minute Happy Cycle video as an example. It opens with some fun, active facts about their product and a question, “A Coke used to cost 5 cents. But what if a 12-oz. Coke cost 140 calories?” Already, we’re being brought into the conversation by being asked a question, we’re being invited to think about an answer.
Next up, we’re brought further into the story by being given some information that further connects us with the action, “The average time to burn 140 cals while biking is 23 min if you’re 140 lbs.” and then this, “But hey, everyone’s different.” To me this helps further connect the story with people, by saying hey if you’re not 140 pounds this still applies to you. Like in my case, I’m 160 pounds so it would take me a somewhat different amount of time to burn the 140 calories, but I’m still drawn into the action.
Speaking of action! This video is full of intriguing, real world action. Notice that there’s a real live audience to all this action. That audience is a group of normal looking folks who are enjoying the story right along with us, the viewer of the YouTube video. Also notice there is a personal touch and feel throughout the video. For example, even in disclaimer text we see phrasing like, “try to have fun while you’re at it.”
There are all kinds of people in the video, helping to connect the content with a wide cross section of the intended audience. There are big people, small people, old people, young people and they all behave in a manner we can all connect with. Here we’re not seeing some idealized version of reality, the kind often portrayed in big budget advertising, and the kind we all know isn’t real because it’s not the life we experience on a day to day basis. No, here we’re seeing the kind of fun most of us can connect with, because it’s the kind of fun we have on a day to day basis with our own friends and family.
The whole piece of content marketing wraps up with people achieving their goals, and walking away satisfied in their jobs well done.
Storytelling on Google Plus for Big Brands & Small Businesses
I reached out to Ryan Hanley, who runs a top content marketing podcast (Content Warfare Poscast) for his input on this piece and he remarked, “This is a form of storytelling and it’s definitely the type of content that connects today. It puts the audience into the marketing.” (http://bit.ly/1lkBqVW) People no longer want to simply be spoken to from static commercials or billboards. Rather, people now want to join the conversation with the brands and small businesses they choose.
Having a conversation with thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people Online may sound like an impossible task. However, with platforms like YouTube and Google+ conversations on this scale are entirely possible. Storytelling and conversation are not just for giants like Coca-Cola either. Smaller organizations and individuals will find a big increase in activity by connecting with and understanding the principles of storytelling and relating with people.
Storytelling that connects with people involves a relationship and it involves trust. When developing your story, pay attention to being genuine and pay attention to developing relationships with people. Begin thinking of clients and customers more as partners with whom you are exchanging value for value. Put your reputation on the line with your interactions, and back up what you say with what you do.
Creative Excellence to Content Excellence
Back in 2011 Coca-Cola introduced their content marketing strategy, giving content marketers a road map to content marketing excellence! To begin with, Coke’s new content oriented marketing was intended to move from, “creative excellence, to content excellence”. With the new focus on content, the idea was, “To create ideas so contagious they cannot be controlled.”
Moving beyond contagious content, Coke’s content marketing strategy involves bringing their customers into their brand’s story in what they call a, “conversation model”. Bringing customers into your story is a process that involves trust, reputation and the kind of content that makes a person feel like they’re a part of the action.
It’s not only about putting people in the action, it’s also about having an actual conversation with people and this means responding when you’re mentioned on social platforms. This kind of active participation in the social conversation is made possible with techniques such as social listening. Social listening is a topic in and of itself. If you’d like more information on social listening I welcome you to read my recent piece on Social Listening with NOD3x.
Notice in the Content 2020 video, at minute 1:33 some key drivers are laid out. Setting goals and understanding what drives your strategy are keys to your content marketing success. After all, without knowing how your success is measured you’ll never know when you’ve become successful. Also, without identifying what is driving your success you won’t be able to maintain or build upon that success. Take some time to identify the content that’s working to help you meet goals and the content that’s not.
Develop an emotional connection with your audience through content. This is done through storytelling, and requires you to develop a connected experience with your audience. From the Content 2020 video, “We need to move from one way storytelling to dynamic storytelling.” Basically, this dynamic storytelling is enabled by a coordinated and unified approach. Meaning that your content should meet people where they are, on the channels they most prefer and this needs to be done in such a way that a coherent message comes through. Without intentionally creating content with a message, we’re just creating noise and that’s not helpful to anyone.
5 Key Drivers to Dynamic Storytelling
- Serial Storytelling
- Multi-Faceted Storytelling
- Spreadable Storytelling
- Immersion & Discovery Storytelling
- Engagement Through Storytelling
These 5 all come directly from the Content 2020 video, and I see the following applications. For serial storytelling, I think of a series of events that can be woven into a story that connects with people.
Multi-faceted storytelling brings your business into multiple facets of a person’s life. That is it provides the kind of value that people want to keep around.
Spreadable storytelling, deals with creating the kind of story people want to share and if your content is truly valuable to people they will want to share it.
Immersion & discovery storytelling (which can be seen in the Happy Cycle video above) brings people into your story, and gives people the opportunity to be a part of your story.
Finally, engagement through storytelling means you engage your audience and give them the opportunities to engage with you by sharing their content and interacting with your audience in meaningful ways.
Weaving a Positive Message Throughout Your Stories
Being positive is attractive to people, so pay attention to being positive with your stories and conversations. Particularly when people are being negative with a post or comment, being positive yourself will really shine. Don’t just pretend to be positive either, but really connect with the positive aspects to what people are saying. Also, connect your content with positive messages.
For example, Coke’s Happy Cycle video has a direct connection with a lot of positive messages such as being active, social, connected etc. In the Content 2020 video we see, “Our brand stories must show commitment to making the world a better place”. Coca-Cola takes their commitment to making the world a better place quite seriously, and expects their employees to share these values.
For us content marketers, we can take from this that we must carefully choose with whom we decide to engage more seriously. We on Google+, as well as on other social networks, have a responsibility to wisely choose those positive and ethical people with whom we can build an overall culture of positive benefit to our world.
“Data Will Become the New Soil”
Many positive voices in content marketing, and beyond into the social networks we operate in, speak of disruptive change. David Amerland is one of these positive voices as are Eric Enge and Rebekah Radice. In a recent Social Media Today Hangout on Air event, Making Disruption Work For You, we see these positive voices discussing how they take disruptive data and turn it into positive results.
These content marketers and business people living in a world of disruptive data, are thriving and sharing their knowledge to help others thrive as well. This idea of sharing our playbook with the world is in and of itself a disruptive move, and it’s a disruptive move Coca-Cola made in 2011 when they shared their Content 2020 strategy.
At the heart of their content marketing strategy Coca-Cola has placed collaborators, which are consumers seen in a much different light than companies have often seen their customers in the past. In this content marketing model, customers are seen much more as partners and less as simple consumers. As content marketers, we must also see our audience/customer/client as being much more our partner than simply consumers of our content.