For about a year now, marketers have been talking about a “content crisis.” The culmination of this discussion is probably Buffer’s article on why they’re failing at driving as much traffic to their blog as they used to.
There are many theories on why content marketing is not as effective as it used to be: people got used to it and stopped playing attention, there’s content saturation, Social Media channels favour paid publications over organic content, and so on and so forth. To be honest, I think all of these factors have contributed to content losing power. However, I also believe that we’re rather seeing and experiencing a “content evolution”; old content strategies are dying and new ones are being born.
After analysing some successful brands, applying some logic and thinking as a customer, my conclusion is that brands should stop talking about themselves and should start focusing their content on the stories that their customers want to tell. Put your users in the spotlight! Give them a voice!
Allow me to elaborate.
Around 4 months ago, I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Leo Widrich (co-founder of Buffer) and discussed this so-called content crisis. I took the time to tell him how I believe we can revive content marketing.
As a brand, you share a common interest with your current and potential customers. You tell a story about what your brand can do, but they also have stories to tell…so let them! Encourage your company’s clients to share struggles they’ve overcome, trends they believe are coming, questions and doubts they have, ideas they’ve implemented that have yielded results, etc. It’s all about putting your brand’s everyday customers in the centre of the conversation—giving them the opportunity to share their stories and hopefully help others. Customers would be happy to share their ideas, thoughts and stories publicly if given the opportunity. They would love to get recognition and be given importance.
It’s a strategy that, first of all, makes a lot of sense—it creates a conversation, forging a personal relationship with clients. Second, it can be applied in pretty much any company.
If you’re a cosmetics brand, ask your customers to share how they use your products; give them the chance to show off their skills, maybe even make tutorials and share their feedback. If you run a clothing company, you could encourage customers to share their styling ideas and inspirations. Perhaps allow them to show some outfits that can be included in the brand’s next collection, and give these customers proper recognition.
An SaaS service can give voice to their business clients to tell their company stories, struggles and successes, or simply encourage them to ask questions they need help with and provide them with solutions.
Giving the mic to the customers can be done various ways. It can be a simple article featuring a client telling a story; it can be a podcast, a webinar, a video, livestreaming, whatever fits the brand’s communication channels.
Some brands are already implementing this strategy!
Buffer started talking to their community members on Slack and encouraging them to share knowledge and best practises in the weekly AMAs (instead of putting the focus on external social influencers).
Have you wondered why Growth Hackers and Growth Hacker TV content is so popular and engaging? Well, their own community is their content provider. The business owners who read Growth Hackers’s articles are also the ones who write them. The community members are in the spotlight!
Same with Gary Vaynerchuk. His videos/episodes are so popular because he answers his followers’ questions. They get the attention!
TopTal is attracting and engaging high-end developers, because they are the ones who write the content, have the chance to show skills and knowledge, and get recognition and exposure.
Think about it! Would you, as a customer, want to hear brands reciting only things they care of themselves, or would you want to have a conversation—ask questions, give an opinion, tell your story, show your skills, get recognition?
At the end of the day, we’re all humans; we all crave connection and feeling important and want to hear and speak about ourselves. I think that this a what content has forgotten, and I believe this is where content evolution is heading.
This is my piece of mind on our current content crisis. Now, what do you think? What does your gut tell you?