The year was <2005 and companies were happily pursuing marketing ideals stemming from the industrial age, which viewed people as passive receivers of one-way broadcasts. Various campaigns aimed to hammer in differentiated associations in the minds of consumers. Then something happened. The social media revolution.
MySpace gained traction in 2005, Youtube in 2006, Facebook in 2007, Twitter in 2009 and it goes on. Over time this had an impact on marketing mixes, budgets, measuring, and the rest of it. Companies struggled with their outdated views, models and tactics to compete in a new landscape (and many still do). People did what they always have done, but it became increasingly evident. They banded together to talk about things, and re-mix that which mattered to them the most.
Companies adopted social media strategies and tactics which led them to engage in two-way communication. Early on, companies would get love for simply doing it – namely getting on board social media. In 2007 Jet Blue, the flight company, was loved for helping clients in tough spots. In 2008 the Mars Rover told her story on twitter. In 2009 Skittles re-worked their site to simply display tweets containing the #skittles hash tag.
Nowadays, many companies have established a presence in social media, and can no longer score the paltry “we have arrived” points. It has become evident that it’s not enough to show up at the party, but rather have something to say. If serving big fish (campaign messages) was the way to go in 2005, it’s now sushi in small bites. Content marketing has become the melody in 2012. Huge companies are now investing in content and to some extent becoming their own publishers.
However content may not be enough to be successful (!?). Stories are highways in human cultures that usher change. The most powerful stories do not revolve around a company or it’s products, but rather people and their desires. The most potent stories connect with people on a sub-conscious level to propel transformation. To put it simply:
Successful stories should’nt necessarily be about the company. Not even the product. It should be about people and what matters to them. Their means transcend company ambitions and desires. Understanding the potency of stories, and the role they play in people’s lives and society, is the first step towards creating content which people value and want to share.