Content Is King. Unless…



A Trench-Fighter’s Perspective

Content is King… As long as it is relevant, interesting, adds value, and fully supports the client’s overall message. It’s not enough just to have a pretty picture to grab attention – unless… you are running an affiliate marketing program (“Lose 50 lbs With This Wierd Trick”) program. We’ve all seen those ads – or articles even – clicked through, and found that the content or copy that brought us there is irrelevant to the real intended message. And we’ve been mildly annoyed and clicked away, never to return. Copy and Content are BOTH about message, and must ALWAYS support the well thought out overall message.

Unfortunately many companies haven’t really thought their message through, and while it is often necessary to help them understand the vital necessity of doing so in order to generate track-able results (all the data in the world is unuseful if you don’t know what your are tracking) – it is also imperative that one keeps the message on track. Because you can generate unintended results.

Poorly Envisioned Content Can Have Negative Unintended Results.

P.T. Barnum is thought to have said “say anything you want about me, just spell my name right!” And to have coined the idea that any press was good. I’ll agree that in a time of limited availability, relative scarcity of resources, he may have been right. You want a cold beverage and there is only ONE kind, you’ll try it, even if some say it’s terrible or an “acquired taste”. Not so anymore. Now we live in a long tail world of competition. And the internet apparently has no half-life on storage of information. Bad information persists – as does good information. So here is a tale which should give everyone pause.

A company, via a young social media guru, used a highly effective “Trending Story Piggy-back” (or “News-jack” or “Culture-jack”, as you may know the exploit)  to instantly popularize their product. It was a clever exploit, but wrong, dead wrong as it turns out – and had overall negative consequences – though initial results seemed promising to the guru and her client.

She penned a release which was designed to be controversial (and generate a lively discussion), right on the heals of a controversial Google product announcement. The release was carefully timed so as to generate a maximum of curiosity and controversy – driving massive traffic to her client’s site. And it worked like gangbusters – with millions of visits over the next days. Clients were pleased, at least initially… Until they realized the significance of the traffic!

What the young soc-media guru didn’t understand was that all of this attention was NEGATIVE, and subjected the client to a beat down everywhere on the net, and for weeks to come! The damage to brand reputation was profound. Mitigation and recovery is an ongoing never ending process. The problem was, in simple terms, that the message conveyed in the attention getting content was not only irrelevant to the company’s message – it was negative and created ill will toward the brand – in a global, competitive environment. If controversy is what you want, great – go get it. You can produce radical change with controversy. But you need to think it trough – will that controversy provoke the action you want (ie adoption of your product)? If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you’ll agree that while the Steve McQeen photo was captivating, it was irrelevant to this articles’ purpose. Probably harmless, if you’ve read this far. But was the risk worth it?

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