Magazines were the original social networks. They filled a void for otherwise isolated individuals and the content transported them outside their community. Brands promoted their products through this early network with static advertising placement that shouted “LOOK AT ME. BUY ME. LOVE ME.”
Early television formats featured someone standing motionless at a microphone telling stories. Much like the technology evolution from radio to television, this print to digital content evolution has left folks standing around delivering static content in a dynamic environment. Technology changes faster than corporate mindset.
Thankfully, the gap is starting to close and we’re seeing Brands and marketers leading with diversity in content innovation.
Social networks are about sharing. It’s important to understand the distinction between sharing, and being shared with. Value, not persuasion, is the core of the social sharing ecosystem. Content must be dynamic not static—put the microphone down and put on your dancing shoes.
As a brand, providing value in content is about storytelling. Storytelling is a long-standing tradition at the heart of all families, communities and cultures. Effective and dynamic story-telling develops deeper, emotional connections that allow readers to be a big part of the experience.
So, how do you tell an effective story?
Imagine your brand as a big book of stories. Each story must have your brands corporate message baked in (not obvious posturing), it must be relevant, timely, provide value, allow for consumer interaction, and be engaging. You want your audience to turn the page and read the next story, don’t you?
With that in mind, let’s use Coca-Cola’s 70/20/10 content rule. 70% of your stories should be the low-risk, solid useful content your audience expects—appealing to all audiences. 20% of your stories should be higher-risk, solid useful content that is directed to specific segments of your audience—your loyal consumers. The last 10% of your stories are where you can set your hair on fire. It’s the content that reaches out to the edges, or comes at your idea in an entirely new way. Your audience might not be there yet or they might be right there with you. It’s the crazy, never-been-done-before-and-might-fail ideas. This is high-risk, but it has the potential to achieve the highest share rate and is also where your future 70-20% will come from.
Ultimately, content innovation is driven by the combination of old ideas and new configurations. Readers don’t want to be told information in a static one-way drop. They want to have a conversation about the information, be swept away into the information, they want to be affected and share that information within their own social circles.
Brand stories should be a distribution of creativity with a content excellence that would make a ruthless editor weep tears of joy. You want to be dramatically different—not just noise in the digital airwaves. But how many different ways can you do it? The possibilities are endless!
A good example of a Brand leading their story through innovation is the grocery retail chain, Longo’s. They are telling you their brand story—quite literally. They are exercising their 10% and pioneering into new content configuration frontiers. They are bringing journalistic blogging together with traditional publishing techniques for a compelling story that is fun, engaging, and worth the attention of their audience.
And hey, it can even be plopped into my e-reader with RSS.
This is an idea of brand storytelling through actual storytelling. Check out Longo’s creative non-fiction brand story here.