Surviving The Content Apocalypse

snow bound

It started out innocently enough. Quite pretty, really.

Lovely little messages, gliding on the breeze, falling lightly to the ground.

Then things changed

Suddenly, the wind shifted and the messages increased, filling the the sky, turning everything in their way into a shroud of white.

Each message now propelled horizontally like an icy bullet.

Making everything indistinguishable, indecipherable

Then the blizzard and steam and fog that billowed up from who knows where.

So thick now that we cannot see a single tree.

So heavy now we cannot breathe.

Our eyes are frozen shut

You and I and your organization are being thrust into an avalanche of raw messages mistakenly known as content marketing.

A misguided strategy based on messages that tell us what to believe rather than engage us in experiences that enable us.

Messages of great volume but little value

Messages full of formulas for someone else’s success.

Messages full of raw facts and raw figures and big raw data.

Messages with no insight.

The problem with this new world of information is there’s way too much of it.

And we’re all pumping it out faster than a ruptured sewer pipe.

As a result, we’re burying people in indiscriminate raw content like so much raw sewage.

We don’t need no more stinkin’ information

What we do need is a little insight and a lot more focus on engaging people.

Without those two things, the people your organization can help will never get to the brilliant content you’ve developed to help them.

We need to take responsibility

We have a choice. We can vulgarize our communications. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it to a higher plane.

Which means not just accepting but embracing five facts of life for living in and making a difference in this world. Whether you like it or not.

1. Be a publisher of empathy, not a marketer

If you have a content marketing program you are a publisher. And you have a responsibility to publish content that is not only helpful but also engaging.

A recent article from Kissmetrics  claims that 94 percent of small business, 93 percent of b-to-b and 77 percent of consumer organizations are using content marketing. But, according to Content Marketing Institute, only 9 percent of them believe their program is very effective.

As eMarketer contends in their report of the research, “Devoting the energy to creating and executing original, valuable content will be the precursor of any success on the content marketing front.”

Apparently, the self-centered, fact & data-driven marketing approach is failing in that regard.

But if you shift your focus from you to what you can do and what you have done for others, you’ll transform things.

You’ll find empathy. And empathy changes facts and data into help and experiences and stories. Each one immeasurably more powerful than a marketing message strategy.

2. Be a curator, not a conduit

If you’ve ever retweeted anything or emailed an article to a colleague or clicked a like button on Facebook, or, heaven forbid, tweckled a speaker at a conference you are a curator.

We are all constantly making decisions about what is good and what is bad. What we like and what we hate. What is worth our time and what is a waste.

The minute we share those judgments we either add to the information overload that is choking the planet or we shine a little beam of insight.

The question is how do you know which one you are doing?

3. Find your tribe, not an audience

Unfortunately, one person’s insight is another person’s yawn. It all depends on your point of view. And that’s why tribes are so important.

Because, as Anais Nin, the Talmud, Shirley MacLaine, Dr. Stephen Covey, Immanuel Kant, and others have said,

We do not see the world as the world is. We see the world as we are.

People in a tribe share a point of view. And that point of view defines the tribe’s identity.

So a tribe is not an audience. A tribe has less to do with demographics or even psychographics but rather about a shared worldview. A view of how things work or should work. A view of what’s important and what’s not. A common view of what is valuable.

Only when you understand your tribe, and live with them, can you begin to create content that provides insight instead of distraction. Value instead of clutter. Help instead of hype.

4. Tell your unique story, not the usual blah, blah, blah

Narratives are the currency of tribes. As human beings we are hardwired to make meaning from our stories. Stories define the tribe around its cause.

Stories are also the currency of this new connected world. Because, as human beings, we are also hardwired to sharing stories.

It’s not until you have developed something distinctive that you can tell a story that’s worth sharing. And that story should be based on the experiences you’ve created to help the tribe.

5. Make things that help instead of just talk

Living with a tribe suggests that you do more than send out messages. It means providing shared experiences that help members of the tribe do what they need to do better or faster or more easily or more pleasurably.

As you and your brand use your understanding of the tribe you can shift from spewing out messages to providing brand experiences that help people do their jobs better.

We can be heroes

We can transform our organizations We can transform people.

All you have to do is stop thinking in terms of  the incremental. Incremental messages. Incremental improvements. Incremental awareness.

Stop trying to make your brand appeal to everyone.

Find your tribe.  Be what only you can be for them. Focus on them. Provide unique value to them. And do it through amazing experiences.

You can start transforming your world by stop thinking of content as messages. Think of content as physical ways (technologies, platforms, communities) of creating brand experiences that serve the needs of your tribe.

But that’s just my opinion. What’s your take?