The Way That Content Is Changing Is Not Good For (Most) Brands

Posted by

Brands think that content will solve their marketing problems. Brands may be woefully surprised as this pans out.

There was an excitement in the air here in San Diego at this year’s Social Media Marketing World. Selfishly, it would be nice to think that it was because of my presentation titled, How to avoid virtual crickets and digital tumbleweeds with your content (it’s not about the headline). The presentation went fine, but the real attraction was Snapchat and live streaming. Sure, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and other social media channels got their due, but everyone was a-buzz over Snapchat and live streaming… for obvious reasons. Live streaming is the next iteration of video content and Snapchat (also shifting more to a video content play) is moving from the millennials to the olds. Both are rocketships, at this moment in time.

Both are primed for brands and business, so the attendees were revving around trying to figure out how to get pole position.  

Whether it was intended or not, my presentation focused on this strange attraction that brands have for the next shiny, bright object (“look… a squirrel!”). While this strategy might keep them au courant, the jumping from platform and format leaves this strange legacy of content plays from the recent past. Dead ends. Brands don’t want to admit this, but just like those many contest and new product micro-sites that have gone stagnant, their content has become a jumbled and confusing legacy, as they jump content plays the way many swipe through Tinder. Brands think that this positions them as being current. Brands don’t think about the brand experience, brand legacy and what all of this dead-end content does to create a better/worse brand impression.

This new buzz isn’t going to be easy for brands.

I sat through many sessions at Social Media Marketing World. If there was one common thread that pulled it all together for me, it would be this: Brands are creating more content than ever before. They’re doing it across multiple social media platforms. They are creating content is multiple formats (text, images, audio and video). It is an expensive process (from staffing, to ideation, to distribution to promotion). In short, it felt like they have been diverting traditional advertising dollars to create content and then create traditional advertising to drive attention to this new content and social media experiences. If you re-read that last sentence, it’s supposed to sound confusing, because it is a lot more work than most ever anticipated.

It’s only going to get harder. Much harder. 

If we are to believe that Snapchat and live streaming will continue to grow – and be a primary social media experience for brands – we also have to admit something that should scare us: Snapchat’s content disappears. Live streaming is most powerful live, then it’s gone too. Yes, you can archive a live stream and post it in multiple places, but the real excitement is in the live moment. Everything else is just an archive.

The half-life of content suddenly has no life.

It’s now or never. If you’re not in it… in the moment… it “seems” like no one might care in the near-future. For some brands, the attitude is simple: we have to change, shift and adjust to this new reality. If our potential for business has shifted from Twitter to Facebook to Snapchat, brands have to move along with it, as these moments happen. That’s sounds much easier to say than it is to do. Think about the ephemeral content that we’re talking about. Think about the push that will need to be put in place to be both live and breathe in the minute, while also having no history or value from the content beyond that moment. It feels like brands will plan, produce and push… pushing that content right off of a cliff. Even if it takes flight, it’s live and done. The next hour if there’s nothing there to continue that energy, it’s done. The struggle is real.

It’s a new social media play for brands today.

No doubt brands can still play in the realm of content creation and social media that caters to search engines, publishing, archives and building a following with newsletters. There is no doubt that brands should still be bullish on this. With that, as consumers flick their thumbs through feeds gifs, snaps, and become more attracted with what’s here, now and gone next, it’s going to be a dramatic shift in brand spending, planning and production to get into this, and succeed at it.

Which brands do you think will get this… and get this done right?