What is ‘IT’?

I just tweeted this:

it’s not about 1:1 anymore it’s about story. it’s not about story anymore it’s about content. it’s not about content it’s about context.

and thought I would draft a post to go into more detail. One of the things that really gets my goat working in social media is how often people try to make it some mystical thing. Whether it’s a social media ‘expert’ trying to make it seem harder than it is or whether it’s a marketing manager who is afraid of it.

The reality is that social media is no different from anything you’ve been doing as a marketing or communications professional. (I know I’ve said this before but it warrants repeating)

Know this – if you’re social media campaign feels like an itchy coat that doesn’t quite fit your brand and leaves you scratching at your arm like a junky it’s probably a bad idea. Social media should be the comfy cardigan you stole from your ex boyfriend in the 90’s – something cooler than you probably are but that fits comfortably and goes with everything you normally wear.

I present a brief history of social media strategy as evidence:

1. in the beginning (like 2007ish) it was about getting buzz and acquiring legions of friends fans and followers

2. WHOOOPS it’s not about mass following and buzz but QUALITY friends, fans and followers! Damn!!! we’ve got a million followers but they aren’t our target audience, whatever will we do?

3. 1:1 (2009ish) – let’s build deep, meaningful relationships with our constituents, let’s pretend we’re having afternoon tea and crumpets and ask them how many tampons they use every month to hone our marketing and drive more engagement which will surely lead to more sales, right?

4. PUT A HASHTAG ON IT! (2011ish) – let’s link all of our new friends conversations with unique hashtags that highlight how cool we are. Now anyone can join the conversation and we’ll even tag our TV spots and print ads with it so we have what is called….INTEGRATED MARKETING! (yay)

5. STORYTELLING (2012) – Social media is not about reaching a mass audience, nor is it about developing intimate relationships with our consumers but rather about telling an inspiring cohesive story across our channels both traditional and social. Oh and mobile mobile mobile, video video video and #instagram it.

6. CONTENT (now) – I am no longer a social media expert, I am a content specialist.

wait a minute — isn’t that the same thing that our creative/copy/brand teams have been doing since the days of Don Draper and Darrin Stephens? I specifically recall an episode of Bewitched where Darrin talked about creating incredible content for Ajax and making it accessible to all of their target audiences through an integrated approach both in-store and in advertising or something .

The moral of the story folks is that ‘it’ is not about something new but rather something tried and true. The tools might get sexier and way more star treky but the concepts are the same. The brand messages may get shorter but the strategy and communications purpose remains true as ever — sell more things, get more donations, provide better service.

These guys lay it out perfectly (and in a tone that expresses my frustration) – Faith No More ‘Epic’, lyrics posted after the jump.

In closing – should you find yourself stuck with an itchy coat or not sure how to turn your tried and true marketing into a social media program, give me a ring.


Can you feel it ,see it, hear it today?
If you can’t, then it doesn’t matter anyway
You will never understand it ’cause it happens too fast
And it feels so good, it’s like walking on glass
It’s so cool, it’s so hip, it’s alright
It’s so groovy, it’s outta sight
You can touch it, smell it, taste it so sweet
But it makes no difference ’cause it knocks you off your feet
You want it all but you can’t have it
It’s cryin’, bleedin’, lying on the floor
So you lay down on it and you do it some more
You’ve got to share it, so you dare it
Then you bare it and you tear it
You want it all but you can’t have it
It’s in your face but you can’t grab it
It’s alive, afraid, a lie, a sin
It’s magit, it’s tragic, it’s a loss, it’s a win
It’s dark, it’s moist, it’s a bitter pain
It’s sad it happened and it’s a shame
You want it all but you can’t have it
It’s in your face but you can’t grab it
What is it?
It’s it
What is it?…

Remix it up + Three Tenets of Content Marketing

Yesterday I talked about how there are no new ideas, just new channels. I got a few emails about that post and have been talking with former clients and colleagues about the theme of content marketing. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for analogies (sometimes they rock and sometimes they flop). One of my favorite analogies  is talking about how marketers should take a tip from Hip-Hop and “remix.”

What this means is finding something tried and true:

  • your brand promise
  • your core audience
  • your brand’s key differentiators

and mix it up with something new and fresh that allows you to present the pillars in a new way:

  • a physical event amplified through digital (road show/concert/art event/stunt)
  • a mobile app (always on)
  • interactive content (online, in media,in person)

Problems arise when people throw out the baby with the bath water and end up with nothing. Don’t compromise your brands equity, turn your back on your core consumer or abandon your brand’s values. You do not have to completely alter what your brand stands for to compete in the new digital environment.

The tenets I have been preaching since 2007 continue to ring true no matter what device or methods you tell your story:

  1. Be Authentic
    1. the big difference with these new mediums is the transparency. Unlike the radio show days you have thousands (maybe millions) of digital investigators ready to pounce on anything not accurate or on the up and up.
    2. you have a chance never before to befriend your consumer and be part of their lives EVERY DAY not just for a :30 commercial but for the duration of their digital day…make it count!
  2. Ensure you are ready for the spotlight
    1. do you have great customer service? is your product living up to its promise? can you handle the magnifying glass?
  3. Tell a Story
    1. Make a story (not a fairy tale) out of your brand promise and equity
    2. tell the story of your company, the people there, the reason for being, the values you stand for
    3. Find like brands and entities to tell your story for you

Follow the three tenets, do it in a new way and you’ll be remixin it to win it like some of the best (this is my fave example of old standard meeting new medium):

Content Marketing: Not So New

As I read all these blogs and articles about how ‘Content is King’ and ‘Brands must be Content Creators’ I am baffled that the authors find this so ground breaking. Brands have been creating content since the beginning of brands.

The only things that change are the medium by which the stories get told. Instead of 3 page advetorials in newspapers or pamphlets or branded farmers almanacs it’s now mobile apps and branded video games.


Check out these vintage recipe pamphlets each created by a popular food brand like Jell-O, Pillsbury and even Dove soap (featuring the great Julia Child).

At the height of radio people would gather around their large console radio and tune into shows like the Lone Ranger, Guiding Light and a myriad of comedy hours. All brought to you by brands like Dreft, Super Suds, Borax and more.

Image      Image

And now, 75 years later we marketers think we’re doing some majorly innovative thing by turning brands into creators. Not to sound like a broken phonograph but I’ve been saying for years that there is nothing new about social media and relationship or content marketing.

Perhaps we should instead look to the past to inform our present and lay the groundwork for our future. Stop being so focused on who is the most innovative and rather focus on who is the most productive — who makes the next “Soap Opera”. Soaps are called that because they were sponsored by Soap brands after-all; mini operatic radio dramas aimed at house wives to get them to become loyal to this soap or the other. If you liked Guiding Light you’d be a Tide woman; All My Children and you were more likely to align with Dreft. Having worked on similar brands recently I can tell you the mentality is still there as evidenced in our Mommy blogger programs and TV companion apps during daytime television.

As they say, there are no new ideas…so read up on your brand history, get grounded in the past to propel you to a more successful content filled future!