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How to Reboot Your Content in a Mobile World

Mitch Joel gave a very enlightening and inspiring presentation at Content Marketing World this morning, highlighting his “WTF” — “What the Five-ish:” The five “massive movements” that have fundamentally changed business forever.  

As marketers, our world has radically changed. The web has changed the way we operate, and we are at the whims of consumers — for example, we are told that we have to be on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc., in order to capture and participate in the conversations they are having. But consumers have changed as well. We’re all kind of in purgatory, not sure what to do… hanging in limbo to see if the bubble will burst and what will really work.

The most important things that brands must understand is that they can create, and must own direct relationships with people; and think of these relationships and the content they create in terms of the mobile world.

Here are the five movements that we are primed for in content marketing:

1. The power of direct relationships

Brands no longer need the newspaper to reach a mass audience. Now they can create content that directly reaches consumers. All brands must think about this: Are you truly building these direct relationships? There is a war going on because of this shift and what the relationships mean. Companies are not just competing with competitors but also with their peers.

Mitch gave a great example based on a recent purchase he made of Dr. Dre Beats headphones at Target. After his purchase, he “liked” the Facebook pages of both Target and Dr. Dre Beats. Now, in his newsfeed, he sees updates from both companies. But, why do we need a third party (Target in this case) in consumer/brand relationships? The relationship is getting too complex. As content marketing professionals, we’re putting too much demand on consumers, which ultimately may screw up these valuable relationships. When you connect with a brand on a social media site like Facebook, who should own it? Mitch bought the Beats headphones, but do they own the value of that direct relationship? Or does Facebook? Or Target? The internet and the power of social media have brought relationships to companies. The problem is that too many companies are just creating more static and noise on their social media channels and are not creating or owning those direct relationships.

2. Sex with data

There is a massive transition in the construction of analysis. Linear data is straightforward information — such as when you sign up for an email, measure blog comments/clicks, etc. Circular data is the info you put out in the world; it gives a human perspective for the world to see. “Sex with data” is the merging of linear and circular together. If you have a consumer’s email address, you need to think about whether they are a part of your loyalty program too?

In terms of big data, marketers are freaking people out about privacy issues — it’s the biggest challenge that exists between privacy and customization. When you move into the world of big data and large scales of information, it’s actually good for people.

The Amazon price check app is a prime (ha) example of that, but retailers don’t like this app, and have a name for it: showrooming. Now, consumers can go into a retail store and shop from their smartphones for a better price on Amazon (through its app) or another retailer.  With apps like this, and the convergence of sex with data, companies will know where you shop, what you look for, and in what order.

3. Utility or death

Companies must think about the utility they are offering people. Do you have a brand that people would put on their home screen? Most apps are used once and never again. Why? They stink. They’re not useful. Promotion of sales does not work; utility does.

Take for example Charmin’s Sit or Squat app. Using a wiki platform, this very useful (and chuckle worthy) app will tell you where a clean bathroom is based on your current location.  The app also allows you to rate a bathroom, or find out where the nearest baby changing table is. Mitch is a frequent traveler and germaphobe, so as a sincere “thank you” for giving him such utility, he now only buys Charmin brand toilet tissue.

Other great examples of truly useful apps are Lodge Net, which transforms your smartphone into a hotel TV remote. And the company Skull Candy, which sells ear buds for headphones and gaming sets, really taps into the lifestyle of its consumers through its app, which directs them to cool information about surfing music, skating ramps, and other fun, useful info they might want. This is what it means to create utility. Taking your brochure and putting it online is not creating content. Don’t repurpose your press release and optimize it for your blog — that’s not content either.

4. Passive or active media

Think about whether the content you’re producing should be active or passive. For example, a blog post that shares great links to other content should just be meant for consuming great information — don’t ask for interaction from readers there. On the other hand, Twitter is an active medium, although people tweet while watching a TV show (which is a passive medium). Think about what you can do to make your content active (or passive, if desired) with your consumers.

“5-ish.” One screen — the near future

Mobile and tablet devices like the iPad have transformed people from multiscreen users (smartphones, computers, iPods, etc.) into single screen users, as these tablets let you do everything you need to do in one place. Yet, many companies don’t think about these devices like they should. In some senses, technology has removed the technology — this is its “humanity.” We don’t’ need to bring a laptop to a meeting and turn the screen toward the client to deliver a presentation — we can hand them an iPad and let them drive the show through an interactive, fun presentation.

It’s a mobile world

It’s likely we will be a mouse-less, keyboard-less world in the next one to two years. Do you have mobility-enabled content, or are you fundamentally unprepared for this shift? That’s only 300+ days away, and it’s the reality.

We are no longer in a world of linear marketing growth. The iPad didn’t exist three years ago. There are massive shifts today in the way people communicate and consume information. Many companies today even use their websites to promote an app!

Today’s consumer is untethered to cords, yet we are hyperconnected to technology and each other. We all must start thinking about these considerations as we focus more on utility. Content must be shareable and findable, but does it also make a connection with your audience?  Think about how we live in a one-screen world with something that ties into touching and feeling, creating an experience.

What are you doing to tell a better brand narrative? You can actually tell the story in different ways in a one-screen world. A great example that ended Mitch Joel’s presentation is an ad by Chipotle that doesn’t promote the restaurants directly, but rather focuses on the theory of cultivating a better world. There is a moving song played throughout that is a cover by Willie Nelson of Coldplay’s “The Scientist.” At the end of this animated video, which simply yet powerfully shows the life cycle of animals on a farm and the modern struggles of farmers today, the ad says: “Song available at iTunes.” And, all of the money earned from the download goes to Chipotle’s foundation to promote local farming. The brand narrative is not about Chipotle, but rather it’s about creating money for this foundation and, ultimately, getting consumers to pay for advertising. Brands must ask themselves sincerely, “Is this something I would pay for?

Create content that is so compelling you would pay for it.