Brands As Publishers - Finding Your Voice

Most artists, writers, and musicians go through a process of ‘finding their voice’ -- finding the distinct and personal qualities that make what you do different from anyone else. While a singer may hit all of the correct notes in a song, great singers deliver those notes with a distinct style, tone, and emotion that connects with a listener and creates a truly unique piece of art.

Consumers and brands have spent their first few years on social media finding their voice -- who they are, what they want to say, and to whom. The landscape continues to evolve, and recent trends in the social space are pushing brands deeper into the role of content provider. Rapidly growing social media darling Pinterest, for example, almost requires brands to have interesting content to earn their way into the flow. Content providers like Yahoo are creating social experiences around content that allow brands to connect with users in unique ways. And Facebook’s most recent shift in their ad offering blurs the line between content and creative, making a brand’s content posts a main component of their ad creative.



So how can marketers think about evolving their voice in social environments to include the right mix of content?

The three C’s of social content marketing 

Consumers in social environments are taking control over the content consumption experience and becoming more discerning about which marketing messages they engage with. Marketers must respond by being relevant, being real and building relationships. They can use content to entice engagement, sustain a conversation, and eventually evolve into a sale or response. It’s a delicate art, and it’s clear that consumers in this new social world want brands to treat them like people (not target audiences), establishing trust before asking them to buy something, and continuing to provide value over time so they buy again in the future.

Here are three interesting paths a brand can take to establish a voice in social content marketing:

- Content Creator: “Passion brands,” or brands that inherently have beautiful content, will excel at being content creators in this new world, as exhibited by the top brands on Pinterest. Partnering to create content is also a strategy here, but creating a “hit” via a creative shop or content partnership is difficult.

- Content Curator: If a brand doesn’t have content that is naturally sharable or engaging, they can relate to their consumers by curating interesting content that their consumers will enjoy. Once the right content is identified, surrounding this content in social ways across the Web and distributing it through owned channels will keep consumers engaged and talking about a brand. 

- Content Cultivator: Brands can empower consumers to create content or engage in questions, polls, or discussions in order to cultivate content in social environments. Consumers expect to be a part of the dialogue, and finding the balance between empowering their engagement and controlling the brand message will be an evolving art.

These approaches certainly are not mutually exclusive, and for many, the right approach might be to blend some aspects of each approach to create a unique voice. Through partnerships, content development and engaging the right users, brands will build more loyal consumer bases that choose to have a sustaining relationship together. 

Consumers will simultaneously continue to evolve their voice, and undoubtedly become more selective about which brands they engage with. The brands that find the right mix of content and voice will continue to connect with their consumers in beautiful harmony.

Which brands do you think are using content the right way in the social space?

1 comment about "Brands As Publishers - Finding Your Voice ".
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  1. N. McCoy from WCG, May 16, 2012 at 2:37 p.m.

    Great article Patrick. Content must also be relevant to the brand to entice engagement - particularly on Facebook. It's an intricate process!

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