Tag Archives: storytelling

Social Marketing is a Content Party

time means holiday party time.   Although in celebration of a wedding anniversary, my wife and I attended a terrific party on 11.11.11 (their 11th anniversary – congrats again, Diana and Doug!).  Country club setting, liberally-flowing drinks, uniquely prepared and presented food, a live band — and most of all, a chance to re-connect with old friends and to make new ones.

It’s this last element listed that sparked in me the notion that social marketing is like a cocktail party (no libations necessary):  people gather in a location, most often invited, to re-connect with old friends and to make new ones.

And while they’re there, what do they do?

Tell stories.  Relate to one another.  Introduce sets of friends to others.  Share personal tidbits.  Communicate.

Now, consider then what most Brands do when invited to become part of this party.

Offer discounts.  Ask to be ‘liked.’  Tell the same selfish story time and again.  Never ask about the consumers they’re trying to friend.  Shout “buy me, buy me!”  Ignore newly make friends in search of new conquests.  Never offer anything meaningful to the conversation.

Imagine if a live person acted in the manner of some Brands at a real party – not only would he quickly find himself alone, there would be whispers amongst the other party-goers about what a lout he is, criticizing what he’s done, his boorish behavior.

And that’s precisely what happens to Brands who don’t ‘get’ the social marketing party.

What’s worse, they’ll likely not be invited back to many parties, alienating those friends-to-be.

Contenting Marketing can help your Brand (and you) with the social etiquette of social marketing.  After all, if social marketing is a place for friends to gather, engage, re-connect and forge new relationships, then Content must be the language they speak, the driver of longer term ‘friendships’ between consumers and Brands.

  1.  Listen.  When at a party, you understand the tone and tenor of conversations by listening first.  Find out who is saying what about you, about your competitors, but most importantly, about themselves – what they want, need, desire, aspire to.
  2. Strategize.  Think first about why you’re ‘going’ to this party, what you’d like to achieve.  Then do the same for your customers, ask why THEY are there and what their goals are.  Ask yourself under what circumstances your customers would like you there….and prepare to deliver on that.
  3. Plan.  Once your strategy is laid out, create a plan of what you’re going to say, to whom, and when.  Ask yourself why you, as a Brand, have the credence to offer this content to your customers.  And if the party venue changes, you’ll have to change your Content plan.  Be consistent, don’t offer a barrage of messages one party and fall silent the next year.
  4. Be adaptive.  The best laid plans…can change like the Midwest weather.  If your party is outdoors and it begins to hail, make sure your Content plan is flexible enough to change to reflect the changed context.  And if you’re not a meteorologist….go back to step 1 and listen.  You’ll hear the forecast.
  5. Measure.  The conversation during the drive home after the party always includes the “how do you think it went?” question.  Much easier to answer this if you’ve done steps 1, 2, and 3 – you’ve set up what your objectives were and how they map back to customer goals…these are your KPIs.
  6. Go back and start again with number 1.  A Content Marketing effort in social marketing learns and adapts.

Remember, your Brand has been invited to a party by consumers.  And Mom always taught us to bring something to the party – make it Content that engages your customers by being educational, informational, entertaining, and inspirational.

On with the party!

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Old MacDonald’s Method for Creating Engaging Content

Okay, previously, the discussion was around the differences between “Big C” (Content Marketing) Content and little c content – how focusing on customers’ higher-order needs helps to ensure that communication is relevant, engaging, and will be acted upon by customers.

Like many mysteries in life, there’s both an art and a science to creating engaging Content.

First, the science:  all Content must serve objectives.

Great, you say; I need to create reach or consideration, or increase sales or referrals – just show me how Content can help me reach my objectives.

But here’s the  twist in the science:  content (small c) may help in achieving your objectives, but Content (Big C) is created when you focus on serving your customers’ objectives.

Customers’ Objectives?

Yes.  Your Customers’ objectives – while they map back to your overall brand marketing or business objectives, it’s important to place these objectives in terms of customers and their points of view.  No customer goes out to ‘increase reach’ or ‘increase sales’ – but they do need to become aware or gain a sense of reassurance.  C.A.R.E. ™ — Customer Acquisition and Retention through Engagement, a proprietary strategic framework from Nutlug, maps the stages a customer goes through in her journey with a brand, and as a basis of viewpoint, pairs marketing objectives with corresponding customer goals.

If content is created to address customer goals (Objectives), then it’s well on the way to becoming “Big C” Content .

But there’s more.  Just because content is geared to address Customer objectives doesn’t mean it’s necessarily engaging.  Customers have to enjoy it, learn something from it, be motivated by it, shown how to do something by it.

Short of market researching absolutely every blog post, every upload, every bit of “small c” content you create to gauge its likelihood to engage your customers, there is a simple checklist passed down from folksong lore to serve as a litmus test of sorts, to make sure your content is on the right track.

It’s called Old MacDonald’s Method for Engaging Content.

And here’s how the little ditty goes:

First and foremost, your Content needs to be ENTERTAINING.  This might seem logical, but in the scope of the world wide web, there’s a glut of customer options containing a flood of content that isn’t.  There’s really no sure fire formula for creating something that’s entertaining (or viral, for that matter), but it’s safe to start with placing oneself in the customer’s shoes and determining what’s entertaining to him or her.  Knowing your audience and creating robust customer personas is a good first step.


Next, check to see if your Content is INFORMATIONAL.  Allow your customers to experience the breadth of your knowledge on the subjects and topics that likely have drawn them to you in the first place.  This is really the key to in-bound marketing – creating Content that informs your customers in the higher order need areas they require.  Thought leadership is built around informational Content.

The other E in the “methodology” is EDUCATIONAL.  Yes, this is indeed different from Informational – it takes information to the next step by explaining and showing your customer how-to with your Content.   Some of the very best B-to-B Content is focused on being educational.  There is always an underlying fear of offering too much education to customers that they won’t need to purchase your products or services; do your best to ignore this irrational ghost.  If a wireless router manufacturer provides a three minute video on how to set up a wireless router, I’ve been educated…but will still need the product (and likely the services to have someone do it right for me!).

The other I stands for INSPIRATIONAL.  Often the overlooked element to Big C Content, persuasive storytelling goes well beyond ‘selling’ – along with offering entertaining content that informs and educates, Content also gives the pep talk, the slap on the back, the kick in the rear that urges the customer to do something.  Case studies play well in this sandbox – showing how another small business owner leveraged social networking to increase referrals, for example, can lead to inspire others to follow.  Inspiration’s muse is often emotional, but founded in rational Content, particularly when it helps achieve the aforementioned higher-order needs.

It doesn’t stand for okay (as in ‘Okay, I can see where you’re going with this E-I-E-I-O thing, Keith) – but it refers back to the Customer OBJECTIVES discussed earlier.  Efforts can be entertaining, informational, educational, and inspirational… and still not be Big C Content.  Adhering to customer objectives (and yes, they do tie in with your brand’s objectives as well) is the key note in our tune.  Otherwise, it’s just E-I-E-I….

So don’t forget the O.  It’s the basis of Big C.

That’s what MacDonald says, anyway.

That’s one huge engagement thing

engagement ring

CONTENT is the key driver to engagement.

Consider the times in your life you’ve been totally engaged:

  • Not able to put down a page-turner until you realize it’s past 4 am and you’ve still not been to sleep…or
  • Losing yourself so deeply at a movie theater that it takes a loud cough to help you realize you’re not in the move, but watching it…or
  • Driving on a road trip and the local radio station you’ve scanned plays three perfect songs in a row, seemingly just for you, and you forget where you are…or
  • A magazine article makes you laugh out loud on a red-eye flight, waking the lady in 7B…or
  • A sporting match has you alternatively cheering or screaming at the television…or
  • Stumbling upon a blog only to spend two hours reading the POVs of two highly partisan groups…or
  • Finding yourself literally on the edge of your seat agreeing with a professional speaker at a conference…or
  • Finding it simply impossible to believe an entire hour has flown by and you are destined to wait another whole week, incredulously, to see your favorite HBO drama…

All of these demonstrate high levels of ENGAGEMENT through compelling content — the real art of storytelling.

Our media, at their best, have excelled in storytelling, creating compelling content to engage their audiences.

We frequently cite the mantra “think like a publisher” or for marketers to “be your own media.”

What is meant is for marketers to engage customers through compelling content.

And while it’s en vogue to tout the benefits of the ‘new media,’ there are still a few things we can learn from our old-school forefathers:  how to engage.

What ‘old media’ example of engagement do you model?