According to Mitch Joel, the future of content marketing isn’t just in more content. It’s in utility. Specifically, it’s about giving people something they can use, and challenging ourselves to think about whether we’re adding value every time we press publish, or are we adding just more static and noise to the ecosystem.
In his wide-ranging presentation to the Content Marketing World audience, Mitch stressed the profound opportunities brands have today to build direct relationships with their audiences. Simply put, your brand doesn’t need a newspaper to communicate with external audiences any longer. However, the success of the content in sparking the direct relationship depends upon its utility.
A fantastic example of useful content Mitch offered is Charmin’s Sit or Squat app, which you can use to find nearby bathrooms that are clean and have amenities you may need (e.g. a changing station, or accessibility). The utility of this app generates awareness and loyalty for a very low interest product.
However, Mitch stressed that in the drive to garner attention, brands to balance privacy and personalization, noting that privacy is not on the table. Marketers must strenuously avoid crossing the privacy line. Ultimately, fantastic personalization delivers utility people value. One example he gave is Amazon, which has mastered personalization to the point where privacy no longer matters.
The utility theme continued in a discussion of active and passive media. Media is passive or active to the consumer.
- Passive media: You just sit back, relax and enjoy it. Newspapers, magazines and TV are examples.
- Active media: You have to interact with it to derive value.
Many times, Mitch noted, people want their TV to be passive. They just want to watch. They don’t want to like, follow, friend or pin – they want to sit on the couch and watch. Many brands wreck the utility of their passive media by festooning it with options that get in the way of the audiences’ expected experience. They end up with a Frankenstein-eque mishmash – and a terrible user experience. It’s okay for media to be active or passive, and it’s up to marketers to balance the mix of the two. But it’s imperative that we keep utility for our audience in mind.
Author Sarah Skerik (@sarahskerik) is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.