Most brands face a slippery slope when it comes to their engines of content creation. We live in a day and age when the term “content marketing” stumbles out of a brand’s mouth almost as often as buzzwords like “big data” and “native advertising.” Woe the brand that is not creating, publishing and curating relevant content, yet many brands struggle with precisely that. They struggle with everything from its creation to its strategy to its editorial content, and even the best places to publish and share it effectively. Many new media pundits claim that the most effective brands employ in-house newsrooms or former journalists to help uncover and spread interesting stories. Yet we also live in a time when the half-life of content is shorter than ever. In a river of tweets or a flood of a Facebook newsfeed, even the most interesting content will last only a few hours (maybe a day if you’re lucky). This is further complicated by the fundamental nature of social media, a place where friends and acquaintances connect and not necessarily the ideal place for a brand to try to make some noise.
So what’s a brand to do?
Gary Vaynerchuk has a solution. He built his initial following by producing an irreverent wine tasting video podcast that he converted into a massive Twitter following (closing in on one million followers), two best-selling business books (Crush It and The Thank You Economy) with a third one on the way, a lucrative speaking career and his ever-growing social media marketing agency,VaynerMedia. He responds to almost all of the inputs he gets (from tweets to blog comments) and created a tempest in a teapot last week by declaring that he plans to “triple down” on content – “because doubling down doesn’t begin to describe how important he thinks it is,” according toForbes. He has also hired a social media content assistant to help him capture, create and nurture whatever is brewing under those eyebrows to keep up the pace. And that’s where the tempest started brewing. Ford’s global head of social media, Scott Monty, responded with a blog post titled,The Last Thing The World Needs, citing this as more “digital clutter” in a world where individuals are struggling to capture anything and everything they already have in their feeds. What are these poor consumers going to do if every brand follows the Vaynerchuk strategy of tripling down? Will this push consumers to the breaking point? Will this have them running for the virtual doors at Facebook, Vine, Tumblr, Google+ and beyond?
In a word: no.
Inevitable is the classic “quality versus quantity” debate. In rebuttal to the pushback that Vaynerchuk’s comments received, he astutely asks, “why not both?” Why can’t brands create a lot of high quality content? Sure, some of this content will work and some will miss the mark. Not all attempts will result in a viral homerun, but we live in a real-time world, where individuals are increasingly looking for more context from their content. Content providers are going to have to play a very different game. A personal case study comes to mind. On May 21st, I published my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete. Along with a digital experience to compliment the launch of the book, my digital marketing agency, Twist Image, took the interesting stats and data from this experience and created a SlideShare. Instead of simply tweeting and sharing the link throughout my online social spaces, I shared some of the unique stats (akin to Vaynerchuk’s tripling down). I expected this deluge of content to upset my online community, provoking negative comments and pushback. Much to my surprise, the SlideShare quickly surpassed 100,000 views, and the number of new followers and friends coupled with the retweets and shares sent my overall analytics through the roof. Creating what Monty refers to as “digital clutter” seems to have been the most effective strategy to get the word out. How did this happen? People aren’t “on the ready” just because I decided to hit a publish button. The frequency of posting matched with the quality created greater attention and focus on the message. It’s a tough lesson for new media thinkers to hear: traditional tactics like frequency and repetition work.
Those who follow Gary Vaynerchuk respect him. They like him. They seem to want more. By creating more, he is not only appeasing his most heavy users, but he is also giving them (and even those who don’t follow him) additional opportunities to find out more, share his thinking and help him spread his own gospel. Tripling down on mediocre content helps nobody. Tripling down on relevancy, being contextual and adding value will always help a brand to expand its audience. Is this hard to scale? Absolutely. Will every brand get this right? Absolutely not. Vaynerchuk and other successful content creators know the pulse of their audience. Through the years, the smartest content marketers have understood not only the pulse of their network, but how to distribute their content in a way that fits the audience. While some may rightfully see it as clutter, my guess is that Vaynerchuk (and other successful content creators) will be analyzing the results and tweaking until they uncover a formula more effective than their old one – a million times better than those with no vision, no formula and lots of worry about the clutter that they’re creating.
More blog posts by Mitch Joel