Rising above the noise: what if social utility was the future of brand content?

By Céleste Perrotte
— May 7, 2018

Rising above the noise: what if social utility was the future of brand content?

For some time now, online advertising has been steadily losing its appeal.

Brands are starting to realize what a mistake applying traditional marketing tools and methods to digital channels (banner ads, displays, social ads) might have been. Traditional advertising on digital platforms is massively rejected and ineffective, as shown by the increasing number of ad blockers downloads. This type of advertising, instead of being considered interesting is now seen as interrupting and annoying.

Slowly, brands have come to terms with the idea that to exist in this newly found digital world, they need to reach out to their client’s needs and interests, regarding information, entertainment, education…

To respond to this shift, brands are starting to move their advertising investments toward content.

Editorial content, video, reports, MOOCs, photo exhibits: Playful, emotional and educational content need to be at the center of this content. If brands wish to stand out from the competition and engage with customers, they need to become a self-sustained media.

However, even though today a majority of brands have understood this point, and are developing content centered on their users’ interests and needs instead of themselves and their products, the quality of this content is still not relevant.

A lot of noise, but devoid of quality.

How does one brand emerge from this hubbub of content? How often should a brand multiply its interventions on social media?

These are matters of relevance and ethics.

One response would be to refrain from producing a high number of poor-quality content. For instance, brands should avoid chesnut journalism, news jacking, trending topics bouncing… Reusing Content will not make a difference. Brands should focus on publishing less content of better quality that nurtures customers culturally and emotionally.

Recently, scientific studies have demonstrated the harmful effects of too much time spent looking at screens (children brain development issues, adult concentration issues, addiction, FOMO…).

These studies raised awareness on the use of these screens, forcing customers to reconsider their social media habits. What if we stopped scrolling mindlessly through feeds and began thoughtfully looking at qualitative and useful content instantly, learning something in the process?

A second response, which can ultimately allow brands to emerge from the multitude of content, is to prove its social utility: what is my reason for being? What is my positive contribution to society? No cheating, no blah blah, consumers want proofs and evidences!

Microsoft understood this very well by creating DigiGirlz: to promote women’s access to the digital world, the company set up a program to give middle school students from low income places the opportunity to understand digital careers and the use of social networks in a smart way.

Another example is Deezer’s recently created podcasts, used as audio cards to help French students review their final exams.

Finally, the iconic Californian outdoor brand Patagonia is a striking example of a committed and invested brand. Patagonia used its social and environmental actions as a lever for its content. Through its posts on the blog “The Cleanest Line“, Patagonia fights for the protection of the environment, and mobilizes and engages with its community through documentary movies such as “The Refuge“.

“Doing good” has always been at the heart of Patagonia’s strategy.

Thus, for either social or ecological purposes, the future of brand content will undoubtedly be committed to a cause, or will not be.

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