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The Hard Truth About Content

Published July 24, 2015

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Content isn’t king.
Great content is king.
And it’s a lot harder than it looks.

The mantra “content is king” has taken over the marketing landscape as scripture. It is written. It is rarely questioned. Hell, we wrote it.

Yet it needs to be amended to reflect the truth about content (truth in advertising! Say it ain’t so!) This mantra has led to more uninspired (and uninspiring) digital content that the Internet can possibly sustain. The rush to produce vast quantities of content has reached into virtually every pocket on the Internet, transforming some long-form journalism into the proliferation of quippy listicles in their stead, an abundance of “think pieces” on such varied subjects as Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian (maybe not so varied) and endless adorable cat videos. This is the environment from which "Which Color is the Dress?" was encouraged to arise.

Dino Dogan, Founder of Triberr, in a recent podcast discussion about what makes people share said, "Attention is the most valuable resource [on the Internet]." But at what cost?

As news vehicles continue to stretch their sea legs and optimally evolve into a marriage of readability and integrity, digital marketing must follow suit. It must not only be full of purpose, but create an emotional impact.

Consider the genius behind Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, which combined a social mission with an advertising campaign. Its minimalist setting serves to showcase the brand’s idea to challenge and question women's relatonships with the idea of beauty. A global study sponsored by Dove in 2004 found beauty to be a source of anxiety for a large percentage of women and girls. Their mission was to be a change agent in the beauty space by advancing the concept that women, unenhanced, are beautiful in their differences and should accept and embrace themselves as is. 

The rocket-like success of this campaign was so encompassing as to distract the public that the message comes from a beauty product line. That’s how strong the emotional pull is. The penetration of Dove’s message goes beyond the actual products to the core branding which says: This is a good company. It supports women. It wants women to love themselves as they are. It also wants women to rectify their problem areas with Dove products (but in a self-loving, accepting kind of way).

It works because the emotional connection displayed onscreen reflects a truth believed (or wishing to be believed) by the watcher.

Also contributing to the success factor was its immense sharability capitalizing on two important factors: the fact that the target demographic (women) wants to be identified with the values perpetuated by the ads (down-to-earth, all-natural, unfussy, beautiful, nurturing) and because sharing this content helps shape the personal branding those particular social media users are pursuing. Every Facebook profile is a mini-brand in itself. Whether someone shares articles from respected journals on intellectual matters or a constant barrage of kitten videos (or both), the shared content helps to determine how others in their social media circles view them. If they want to appear smart and worldly, they will share content that identifies them as such (whether or not they actually read them.) If they want to appear compassionate, they will share content that speaks to that persona. 

By creating the Real Beauty videos that showcased women in their natural, unadorned splendor with a careful, concise, and direct message that speaks to how they wish to be reflected to the world, Dove found the sweet spot that makes for inspired content.

This is what digital marketing and branding should aspire to be. Attention-grabbing, but meaningful. Emotional, but purpose-driven.  Great content.

Anything else is just an empty blue and black (the only acceptable opinion of the color combo) dress. 

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