Among the creative community, some of these questions are focusing on how brands, for better or worse, are shaping their communication to fit better within the walls of social-media channels and the way these constraints are driving and challenging creativity within content marketing.
We are moving from the TV generation to the ‘feed generation’, who are getting drips of content from different devices.
These formats also demand that marketers rethink their approach to creativity and creative people are now more aware of the constraints they operate within.
Marketers must shift their thinking to take account of the fact that a growing tranche of consumers are filtering their lives via the walled gardens of their social-media feed. Michael Litman, founder of micro-content agency Burst, believes that brands need to adopt a new screening process when it comes to content.
There are shifts in consumption habits, of course, but no ‘one-size fits all’ rules of engagement for content marketers.
Despite this assertion, the industry is awash with bleak tales of the restrictions implicit in harnessing new platforms better, such as a creative team tasked with little more than creating a solitary Facebook post, or the tweet that went through 78 drafts. Even the greatest Oulipian artists would struggle to express themselves by emoji alone. Yet many believe brands need to embrace these new formats.
In the process-driven world of social media, questions remain as to whether consumers are being stripped of their ability to meaningfully decide whether they want to see particular content. When the drive is compulsive, the ability to self-censor is lacking. Moreover, popularity on social platforms is perhaps not the ultimate arbiter of relevance and success for brands, but just underlines the fundamentally fleeting nature of attention spans.
A growing number of brands are employing analytics to better understand how to capitalise on those passion points. With increased automation, brands have a greater depth of knowledge about what content people will be drawn to and can create a better profile of their consumers. She believes this development has created an insatiable demand for more content.
However, some believe that brands have been guilty of chasing metrics, such as shares or ‘likes’, rather than investing in the often more difficult task of driving deeper engagement. There are those who share instead of reading content, in effect, becoming curators, not consumers. On a broadcast network such as Twitter, what you are seen to be, rather than what you do, is sacrosanct.
And some have gone as far as saying we’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading.
Beautifully crafted content will thrive, not in spite of the constraints presented by smartphones or social networks, but simply because it offers users something greater than the traditional transaction between brand and consumer. Something, that, at its best, can live beyond the constraints of any given format and take on a life of its own in our imaginations.