Content strategy isn’t a nice to have (or why I don’t want your brand to be my friend)
The planning and discussing and repeated rounds of debate and review and re-working to the nth degree of copy for the typical ad campaign often seems never-ending. Ensuring that work meets brand guidelines, is in keeping with the brand values, brand pyramid, brand molecule or what have you, yada yada yada.
As with any decent media strategy. The role for channels should be carefully thought-through, with a clear definition of the comms task and the role that each channel should play, and so on.
But when it comes to brand content in social channels like Twitter and Facebook, or even sometimes on their blogs and brand sites, carefully considered comms and content strategy appears to be falling by the wayside for more and more brands. Consideration for tone of voice – which would be so rigorously scrutinised in an advert – appears to be totally ignored.
It’s lazy. It shows a lack of thought, and a lack of understanding of the people they’re seeking to engage and consideration for the user.
Take Rightmove. Their service is about helping people buy, sell, rent or let their home. It’s one of the biggest life decisions you’ll make. Property’s serious business. The market’s changing, it’s tough whichever side of the fence you’re on. If you’re in the property market, what you really need is reliable info, help & guidance. You want a trusted partner to help you make the right decision.
From a content strategy point of view, how could a brand like Rightmove add value? What do customers and prospects most need and want? Expert advice, market insight, the latest news & updates before anyone else, perhaps? Maybe with an authoritative but friendly tone of voice?
Or maybe the brand could just throw random stuff at Twitter to show how TOTALLY AWESOME they are!!!!
Like pointing out (admittedly very cute, but unsure what it has to do with Rightmove) a video of Elmo from Sesame St cooking paella with Philip Schofield & Holly Willoughby on This Morning:
Or chatting about what people got up to over the bank holiday weekend:
Or moaning about how rubbish the weather is:
It’s partly the Innocentification of cutesy, zany copy where it’s just not plausible or appropriate for the brand (for more on the Innocentification of copy and brand authenticity, see the most excellent Shift Run Stop episode with the lovely & talented Denise Wilton – lovely friend, co-founder of B3ta, currently creative director at BERG, and formerly creative director at Moo).
But it’s also suggestive of a complete lack of content strategy – of thinking how the brand can really add value, what kind of content will be most appropriate, within which channels, and what tone of voice will communicate this most effectively. Of not really understanding what kind of relationship the people they’re trying to engage want to have with their brand. Whether they want a brand to be useful, helpful and deliver against their brand promise – or whether they want a brand to be their mate.
We strategists & planners are partly to blame. We’ve tried to encourage our clients to communicate more humanly and less like faceless corporations. But without a clear and well-defined content strategy, it appears we’ve opened Pandora’s box.
Content should engender trust.
Brands should use their content – digital or otherwise – to communicate the values and associations they want to convey.
They should use their content to deliver on their brand promise. To be useful. Helpful. Yes, be friendly, but be appropriate:
Content strategy isn’t a nice to have, brands. What you do, what you say, and how you say it, what relationship you want to have with the people you’re trying to engage, matters. Really it does. Give it some proper care and attention, why don’t you?
Addendum: Bobbie Johnson has written a fab article on GigaOm which articulates his frustration with what he terms the hypercasual far more eloquently – def worth checking out: Hypercasual : when the web gets a little too friendly
(HT @simonth for pointing out Rightmove to me)