Today, I gave a lecture to a really cool group of marketing students at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, the Netherlands. The Hanze University and Traffic4U (where I am the Strategy Director) have a fantastic and established relationship where we help each other inspire and educate the future in digital marketing talent. We are building a smarter, more talented future together.
The lecture was on “The Future of Content” – what should content look like in the 21st century in order to perform and serve its purpose.
The presentation addressed the micro through the macro. This is how I like to look at things. Understand first the bigger picture and why it is the way it is, and only then start addressing the micro details of what to do about it. This allows for much more effective campaigns that fit exactly with what you are out to achieve at a macro level.
I know that many of the students will come and read this blog post so this is for you! 🙂 but I also know that the students I inspired may come back to the blog post in the years to come so this is for your future self 🙂 and i know that many other people will stumble upon this post and it may just change the way they look at content and build some positivity and happiness in this world. A blog post like this is time we’ll spent. I always say: One’s time is limited but what it can achieve is limitless.
I believe that digital content in the 21st century is about building relationships through technology. It is about filling the “contents of the relationship” a business or brand is having with a consumer. Everything in between is content. It can be a webpage with text, images, video and a buy now button. But it can also be an application that allows the consumer to experience your offering, try things, buy things, get inspired, be entertained, ask questions, answer questions, interact …. really everything that sits between you and your customer is content. It is the contents of the relationship. Everything you can see, hear, feel, touch, taste and experience within the relationship.
And you should build the content that best suits the scenario and needs of both the consumer and the business. For the business it may mean generating a sales or providing information (educational, inspirational, motivational…etc) or providing an experience or even empowering the user with a tool. For the consumer it may mean user generated content, interaction (comments, sharing, liking), behavioral (data is generated) …etc. Content is created or generated within the boundaries of the relationship between a brand or business and whomever is consuming the relationship on the other end.
In order to attract people into the relationship and keep them within the relationship you need to have something remarkable for them that precisely for-fills their needs and wants. This remarkable content that fills the contents of the relationship is what will attract them and keep them with you. As soon as someone else (another business or brand) comes up with an even more remarkable content proposition, that consumer may move on to consume the contents of another relationship (potentially your competitor or new disruptive innovator)
Build relationships through technology by being remarkable.
Here is a piece of content from Pepsi both in video and being built in real life (I hope), and how they are inspiring their potential customers by being remarkable:
I then talked about the problem we have on the Internet right now which basically comes down to this:
The best minds of our generation, are trying to figure out, how to get people to click more ads…and that kinda sucks. But, to make things worse…In a mobile environment, the only ads people want to see, are the ads they would miss if they were not there.
This is where all the effort and focus is going into right now. Getting people to click on ads to drive consumption and revenues. It’s of course a very important part of sustainable business but are we doing it in the right way? Or are we taking the shortcut to sales and revenues and forcing consumption upon people for shareholder and economic prosperity? Why should ads and content be different? They should not. Great ads should be great content delivered at the moment people need them.
I than addressed the basics. Its always good to do this and I am always surprised as to how disconnected people are from the basics in our digital marketing industry:
Advertising -> Getting peoples attention. So where is the attention?
Marketing -> Turning needs into wants. So what do people need?
Brand -> The value difference between what it costs to produce something and what someone is willing to pay for it. Marketers tell stories to people and build brand equity. Brands were invented by marketers to inflate the sale price of a product or service.
Business -> Business is all about relationships. Someone has a need and someone else is willing to for-fill that need. A relationship is formed and business is created. Money exchange is not a requirement of business. There are many different ways business can be achieved but the one variable that always holds true is that where there is business, there is relationship.
Love -> Love is the byproduct of a relationship. But so is hate, trust, belonging and lots of other things. If business is a relationship and love and hate are the byproducts, in a digital content, people are having relationships through technology (internet and smartphones for example) and the byproduct of this type of technology facilitated relationship is data. In the data you can find the love and/or hate in the relationship.
Internet -> The Internet is a connection machine. It connects things and people.
I than spoke about meaningful connections which you can read about here (which links to more articles on the topic).
I than talked on how technology seems to take giant leaps every decade or so. In the 1980’s we had the personal computer merge with the telephone which allowed us to connect to the world wide web. In the 1990’s we had the arrival of the commercial web that was made accessible by directories and search engines and the information portals of the time. This was really the birth of the web as we know it today. In the 2000’s we saw the mobile revolution take off which gave rise to the apps and social platforms we consume all so much today. And in the 2010’s we saw the application of artificial intelligence catalyzed by increased processing power, cloud storage, connection speeds, big data and a tech savvy consumer willing to interact with and give data to the apps and platforms where AI is embedded. AI allows us to extract greater value from data which is becoming the new oil or the new currency that is driving many of the most successful businesses of the early 21st century.
And than of course the future into 2020’s will be a highly augmented world (AR) and a highly connected world (IoT and IoE) with the smartyfication (AI) of all connected things that will help us live happier lives is a digital era (we hope).
An invisible revolution is coming … and its facilitating the mobility of human experience.
I then spoke about all these things, devices, platforms and apps as behavioral platforms constantly measuring our behavior. The bi-product of all this behavior is data of course. Lots of data. Data is a proxy into human behavior. We call it big data and artificial intelligence will help us humans make sense of it and extract the value out of it.
Technology companies are building behavioral platforms to measure our behavior and they use the data to understand the relationship and give us what we want. They also use this data to target ads to us all day long in the hope we will buy things from them in time.
I talked about the new Google Assistant (which I posted on recently) and how Google is taking personalization to a new level by building a Google for every person on this planet:
And than showed how Amazon are also personalizing things and building unique experiences that are highly empowering and help us use our time and money in more efficient ways….driving happier “tech savvy” consumers… or at least that what they hope…for now.
And introduced the Amazon Go stores that I posted on last week.
I showed how L’ Oreal’s Maybelline Markup Genius is empowering their customers to shop with very personalized and unique experiences. This is the future of content. Its highly interactive and allows both the user to get unbelievable value from the content as well as the company to collect the data they need to understand the relationship they have with their consumers at scale. And then use this data to build better relationships.
I than showed how retail shopping is transforming and empowering consumers to buy through technology in highly augmented ways. Providing remarkable experiences through technology and building remarkable relationships that generate data and drive business and consumer engagement and happiness.
I showed how Doritos are building remarkable content to build relationships with users through virtual reality. I mean…what are you going to write about when it comes to chips? Check our how cool this is! And its a fully immersed experience you can also have in modified forms through your smartphone (in time). (in dutch)
And of course, people in Holland all know about the AH dino kartjes. Once your kids discover this, there is no way you are grocery shopping at a competing supermarket. “Papa, we are going to the AH!”… And this builds relationships with the future generations.
I showed that Lego is now the hottest thing in town. Lego never use to have physical stores but now they are opening stores with these amazing experiences. Kids and families are coming to visit the stores for the experience and taking videos and photos and spreading the remarkable things Lego is doing all over the web and in social.
And finally I finished off with the most viewed content piece of the year (2016) which broke many many records and sold our every single store of Chewbacca masks and resulted in at least 130 million views and was the most popular video on Facebook ever. Candace Payne raised over half a million dollars and got to meet Mark Zuckerberg personally and is now travelling the world giving interviews and contributing to charities. (just Google it!). And how cool is that for Star Wars and Walt Disney?
And here is an interview with Candace Payne … this just made people happy and brought joy into the lives of millions. The video was appropriately titles:
It’s the simple joys in life….
I finished off the presentation with a summary:
Build relationships through technology.
Become remarkable through technology.
AI, VA, Bots helping us live “happier” lives.
Data is becoming the new currency.
To get us to click more ads…
The future belongs to those who hear it coming.
Tips I gave the students on personal branding and how to build content right now that will help to market them to future employers and potential customers as 1/3 of the room wanted to build a business someday.
- Start blogging. Share your thoughts. Communicate interesting things to the world. Use medium.com to do this. Its free and very easy to use.
- When you post on medium, replicate the appropriate posts on LinkedIn. You can blog these on LinkedIn under your profile and it will be visible as a status update to all your connections. Share the good stuff in the appropriate LinkedIn groups.
- Share these posts in your social channels and with friends and post them in Facebook groups that are discussing these topics.
- Do this consistently. At least once a week to start with and as you get more comfortable with it try to do it daily.
- You will be amazed at the results after a few months. But keep at it for at least one year. Patience is the key. Patience and practice. In time the results will come.
- Its not about the number of followers you have. Its about the quality of your followers. It only takes one follower to be impressed with your work for amazing things to happen.
Anyway, hope this post helps some people.
Any questions, let me know.