“Content is King” is Killing Social Media

I originally posted this on Linkedin Pulse. First time I ever published anything there. It did very well and after a week has about 900 views and 87 likes. Way more than my average blog post.

“Content is King!” You’ve heard it, it’s a common saying rampant today. While it may have been essential at one time in the past, today it’s lost the edge. People and brands that cling to that strategy risk becoming as defunct as the expression itself.

It started in 1996 when Bill Gates told the world that

The broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment. No company is too small to participate.

During the past 19 years there have been many great examples of this. When hardware stores publish DIY projects or banks share tips on how to save money, they provide consumers with valuable information and make their brands feel like helpful friends and trusted advisors, instead of faceless corporations.

Unfortunately, not everyone is actually helpful. Many brands use social media to shower content everywhere, hoping it might resonate with someone. This is truly a bad content marketing strategy.

People do not join social networks to be inundated with content; they join to connect with other people and have real interactions. When brands use social media to share content and do nothing else, they are killing the very social networks they are trying to be a part of.

Need proof? Just look at your average social news feed. They’re all dying a slow death, choked by a glut of mediocre content. It’s gotten so bad that in Twitter’s most recent earnings report, Timeline Views, which used to be their main metric for engagement, was completely removed from the report.

While sharing relevant content and “looking the part” is necessary it’s also the bare minimum.  Brands need to focus more on engagement. Mastercard’sGregg Weiss said it perfectly:

There are more opportunities to engage now than ever. Take a look at the following 3 examples that show what helpful social media looks like.

1. Hilton Hotels Helps Travelers

Hilton Hotels uses @HiltonSuggests to jump in on the conversation and engage with people who are looking for recommendations. Simple questions like “Anyone have restaurant recommendations for Phoenix?” are answered with “check out the Comedor Guadalajar @cguadalajar they are located at Ceneral Ave, just North of the I-17”

2. Xbox Creates Custom Avatars of Real Fans

Xbox makes some of the best caricatures of its gamers (including myself). They take actionable fan comments and reinterpreted them into cartoons while turning the user’s profile photo into an avatar. It’s an incredibly personal experience and impressed not only me but everyone at Hootsuite.

3. Replying to a Contact Visiting Montreal

For sales professionals, real social selling is developing relationships with your contacts. By actually listening to what your contacts say you can find great ways to add value. A good salesperson can spot a post from someone visiting Montreal (or any city they know well) and offer to provide suggestions. Who doesn’t like brunch?

In the end Bill Gates wasn’t entirely accurate. After all this was 1996 when only 45 million people were using the internet and Bob Dole was running for president.

If you’d like to live in the past and continue to flood the world with content then keep carrying the dusty banner of “Content is King.” If that doesn’t sound fun and you want to be part of the movement that transforms messages into meaningful relationships then stretch your fingers and start engaging.

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