Digital Relevance Often Comes In a Package

Bob Pearson, president and Chief Innovation Officer at W2O Group, author of "Pre-Commerce: How Companies and Customers Are Transforming Business Together," joined me in writing the following post. 

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results — that’s the definition of insanity. Well, at least according to Albert Einstein.

Though it would be quite unwise to call all content marketers insane, it’s clear that we’re actively living out Einstein’s definition in the online world: consistently producing content in the same way and expecting more influential viewers, fans and followers to sing our respective praises.

It’s true — with the growing importance of social media and digital communication, consumers want information and they want it now. To keep up and remain relevant, people and businesses need to constantly be participating in the conversation. And in their minds, this means contributing a new fact, photo or piece of information to their audiences any chance they get.

But this fear of obligation has made many lose their way, focusing more on quantity of content rather than quality and delivery.

In many cases, it seems we’re creating websites for the sake of creating them, writing whitepapers for the sake of writing them and designing infographics because we’re convinced our audiences will agree that they look cool. Often times, they go unnoticed altogether.

As Andrew Bowins, Head of Corporate PR and Communications at Samsung Electronics America, has aptly noted: PR is quickly becoming a deli counter experience. And consumers are full beyond belief. There’s no room in their stomachs for more content — unless it’s deliciously packaged and delivered in the right way.

And that’s where a new opportunity exists.

It’s not the content that is completely lacking, but rather the way in which such information is presented and made available. As we all know, a brand’s online content should be consistent, succinct, engaging, and relevant to the wants and needs of consumers. Users should be able to consume it anytime, on any social channel or site of their choice.

A few brands have successfully figured this out and are creating great content, packaging it in a user-friendly manner, and delivering it in a beautifully-wrapped bow.

Take Netflix, for example, which has proven it has content packaging down to a science. By using highly effective formulas and algorithms to analyze viewing habits, the company is able to customize each user’s video-watching experience. According to Joris Evers, vice president of communications at Netflix, “there are 33 million different versions of Netflix,” each packaged and delivered based on the customer’s specific interests and preferences.

Netflix is at the forefront of what we call “audience architecture,” a process where you know exactly who your audience is, what they care about, and then use this information to make what they desire available. You don’t talk at them, but rather learn from them and align your content to the behavioral clues you’ve been provided.

But this doesn’t just stop at Netflix. When it comes to news, presenting stories in an easily digestible way is being mastered by The explanatory outlet capitalizes on the notion of simplicity. By presenting the news in simple card stacks, makes even the most daunting news stories seem easy to analyze, dissect and share. Its methods have clearly made it a winner: beat out Politico — a publication seven years its senior- for unique visitors last July.

For many brands, however, the deli counter experience — that more is usually better — is quickly becoming commonplace. Instead, a conversation about how we’re packaging, analyzing and delivering information in a manner that creates unique experiences for our audience is long overdue. This is the crux of a new platform by integrated marketing firm NextWorks that packages videos, links, transactions and any other major pieces of content in portable websites. The presented information is the same across all channels, allowing for a syndicated form of content that can be dynamically updated based on what customers are interested in. With this platform, companies can share a full story directly to any social channel, website, or intranet.

Learning what consumers want, delivering the content where they want it and then interacting with them based on what they like or dismiss is the future of content marketing.

If companies don’t move to change how they currently approach this, potential customers will be lost, loyal fans will become disengaged, and brand credibility could easily begin to depreciate. Worst case scenario, we might begin to experience a new form of digital insanity.

Throwing more content at the problem won’t solve it. The solution and new approach: placing equal emphasis on the “how” and “why.”

The “what” and “who” will greatly appreciate it.