Connections Outperform Content
We live in a time where our daily lives are filled with meaningless content. We are getting crushed by shitty content every day. And the pace is getting steeper. Right now, companies are wondering why they should invest more money in content creation, when it’s hard to analyse the value it brings.
There may be many opinions about how to define what content is. To some, advertising isn’t content, but at the same time they are sharing Red Bull's extreme sports videos on Facebook. Others say that the Michelin Guide is just an old way of doing marketing, but that Instagram Live with influencers is the ultimate fulfilment of content creation. But when you look at this from a wider perspective - like we should - everything we do is content. So the fundamental question is, why do we produce content?
In my opinion the answer lies in these two words: context and connection.
The marketer must understand the context in which the content is encountered. Context creates the meaning to the content, not the opposite. The importance of the context in marketing has always been key to success. Without context Nike's Kaepernick ad would not have succeed like it did. It wouldn’t have had the impact and viral effect. It wouldn’t have tightened the relationships with existing customers and built new ones. But it did, because of the context.
The context brings people together, not the content. Context is what we are after, it creates belonging. And from that we can create relationships between people and companies and of course, between people and people. Great companies have always been built on how many relationships they can create and maintain. Again, it’s not about the content itself, but about how to build lasting relationships, using content in the right context. That’s the secret sauce.
”Superior products are great, but strategies that exploit connections are better.” - Bharat Anand.
Harvard Professor Bharat Anand writes in his book The Content Trap that successful companies are built around relationships, not around content. This is, of course, easy to see when we think about all the ecosystems and the platforms out there. And this isn’t just restricted to startups or tech companies. It’s valid for every company out there. The better relationships and contextual understanding, the more vibrant the company.
Connections bring people together over and over again. They won’t come back for likes and engagement loops. They come back because they get value from the connections the company has created, whether it’s brick and mortar, digital platform or just pure entertainment.
So, don’t waste your time just thinking about the content, build platforms whose main functions are to harvest the connections in the right context.
Markus Nieminen is Content Director / Creative Director at TBWA\Helsinki