A few months ago I was reading a book that had just been released. In the very first line of the introduction the author says, “I wrote this book. All of it.” Huh? Isn’t that implied? Not anymore. At some point along the way, it’s become acceptable for an author to put their name on a book they didn’t write. And this particular author wanted his readers to know he’s the real deal.
This alludes to a trend happening in the marketing world today. Real, authentic content takes time to create and often doesn’t even perform as well as a photoshopped picture or a plagiarised paragraph. Marketers are therefore forced to ask themselves, “Do I want to be authentic? Or do I want better results?” This is the crisis we’re facing today.
How Did This Happen?
The power of culture is incredible. Culture has a way of telling us what to wear, what music to listen to, and what products to buy. It tells us how to behave. In America, we are surrounded by a culture that is driven by performance. Results are king. You get ahead in this country by finding ways to increase your numbers and edge out the people around you.
Culture has a way of telling us what to wear, what music to listen to, and what products to buy. It tells us how to behave.
In this scene from “Pursuit of Happyness”, the year is 1980 and Chris Gardner (aka Will Smith) realizes he can save eight minutes per day by not hanging up the phone in between sales calls. This slight advantage leads him to landing a big sale, and eventually, accomplishing his American dream. All because he found a way to get ahead.
Fast forward to 2018, and now we live in an Information Age that is fueled by social media and online content. Meanwhile, America has stayed on script. Companies are still looking for ways to increase performance and beat their competition. Next thing you know, the internet is flooded with photoshopped profile pictures and fake reviews on Amazon. Heck, there’s even books that authors didn’t write.
Millennials Can Smell Your BS
Not so fast, my friend. Millennials are catching on. If you haven’t heard, long-standing giants like ESPN are taking hits from smaller, edgier companies like Barstool Sports and Bleacher Report. This is no shock to the average 24-year-old. Twenty-somethings are much more engaging with honest, less-filtered content that hasn’t been influenced by a corporate agenda. Instead of a polished highlight reel, just show us the video of Odell Beckham Jr.’s catch that you shot on your iPhone. Keeping content authentic is what we’re looking for, content we can trust.
Need more proof that real is making a comeback? Last week, Snapchat rolled out it’s latest update to the popular social app. The company claimed the update was for the sake of improving user experience, but it also turned the app into a virtual billboard filled with advertisements. As a result, in the first few days over one million users have petitioned to revert to the old design. No one wanted to be interrupted with propaganda; they just wanted an app that would let them send pictures to their friends.
A Breath of Fresh Air
Ryan Holmes (the CEO of Hootsuite) said in regards to social media, “The day after fire was invented, someone invented arson.” Social media is neither good nor evil. But it is a worldwide phenomenon, and now it’s up to us to decide what we’re going to do with it.
Social media is neither good nor evil. But it is a worldwide phenomenon, and now it’s up to us to decide what we’re going to do with it.
Over the past year, our company has noted these trends and been very intentional about the kind of content we produce. In fact, we believe in content marketing so much, that we’ve spent the last 12 months restructuring our entire company around it. No joke. We’ve made it a goal to stay authentic, and to use online content as a medium for building trust and educating our clients.
Since then, our content marketing department has tripled in both size and revenue. (Isn’t it funny how the good guys always seem to come out on top?) Being authentic means you may not be as flashy as the other guys, but you’ll slowly build an arsenal of loyal customers who keep coming back to the only company they can trust.
If you want to succeed in a world of fake news, produce content. And keep it real.