So if our goal is to create kickass content stories (sorry, I’m less poetic than Angelo), then our real goal is to awaken emotions. To accomplish this, our marketing stories need three cornerstones that supersede the iotas of content that are ultimately forgotten. Here, I’ll present those cornerstones:
1. Brand. The word “brand” gets tossed around in circles like a tetherball unless we define it. I credit Amir Kassaei, Chief Creative Officer at DDB Worldwide, with the best definition: “A brand is not a product or a promise or a feeling. It’s the sum of all the experiences you have with a company”.
From the perspective of the public, “brand” is who you are, what you stand for and what promise you deliver. The brand isn’t a feeling, but it can create feeling.
So Kassaei’s definition suggests that the purpose of content marketing is to create outstanding experiences that influence people’s perceptions of the brand. Those experiences, however, do not have to happen in front of a computer screen. After all, when was the last time you told a friend an awesome story that took place in an LCD display?
2. Curation. To deliver awesome content that changes perceptions of our brand, we have two options: create or curate. The best and most common approach is a hybrid that involves original production and borrowing other people’s content. However, if I had to choose between the two, curation would win every time, and thus it is the cornerstone.
Why? Two reasons:
First, a brand that strictly creates will burn out. Some brands crank out multiple blog posts and images per day – something our creative forbearers never did. Nailing every post is like trying to hit a hole-in-one 18 holes straight. Good curation, on the other hand, leads to many holes-in-one if you choose well. Consider all the wildly successful news and humor sites that just pull articles, videos and picture out from the depths of the web. They may not be creative, but they’re resourceful.
Second, user-generated content (UGC) usually trumps creation. Why break the bank on creatives when your own customers can do a better job for free? UGC, however, requires competition, and competition feeds on community.
3. Community. Community and UGC curation are symbiotic. They co-create experiences that evoke powerful feelings, which are the mark of kickass content marketing and fuel for tighter communities. To understand how community and UGC function, let’s use an example from a car that's become somewhat of a lifestyle. In fact, these car owners have self-organized into over 100 local clubs that hold rallies, charity drives, picnics and other events that are unusual for an automobile brand. Passion for the product created community (Yes, bad products cannot build strong brands, UGC or community).
The company relies on this existing community to produce UGC. Their bread and butter is a monthly photo challenge that invites owners to submit a theme-based entry. Drivers can submit images via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or a web entry form. The challenge copy always includes a rights and consent statement to prevent any legal conundrums. Images are automatically collected and deposited in company cloud storage using IF THIS THEN THAT.com, a free cloud connector site. The company picks nine favorite images and posts them online for a public vote.
Fan favorites are used for marketing campaigns – i.e., they are curated. They’ve now used this basic process to collect content for a cross-country road trip and new vehicle launch. These car owners are amped to be featured in advertising – and the thousands who participate enjoy the experience of taking a clever photo or funny video.
Good Feelings…Kickass Story
You might be thinking, “If I run a contest, why would any of my customers participate?” The reason is, feeling. People won’t remember the exact images, the votes, or the comments people wrote, but they will remember the positive feelings from these experiences and associate them with your brand.