Content strategy remains a hot topic. Yet we tend to forget an important truth: You won’t impress anyone by simply stuffing every channel with content. To retain loyal customers, you need a genuine passion for the subject and the ability to excite your audience.
The digital world teems with content. It’s a land of plenty: Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Medium… the list goes on. If you understand the rules and nuances of these platforms, you have a remarkable, multi-faceted outlet for sharing your passion with the world.
Take YouTube, for example. A platform where ordinary people transform themselves into science communicators. A brilliant example is Derek Muller’s VERITASIUM channel. In every second, you can feel his enormous curiosity and passion, the one big thing that drives him: to understand and explain the mysteries of nature. Elsewhere on YouTube, people let their inner geek run wild. Like the crew at UNBOX THERAPY, one of the most popular technology channels in the world. It’s a nerd’s paradise for anyone who cares about the latest tech and enjoys unpacking and testing new gadgets. Again, this is real passion. You see it in the lit-up eyes, in the painstaking production, and in the wonderful little content universe that the channel has become.
It’s all about content and an underlying idea revolving around a strong personality., and is achieved using minimal resources. One person with a genuine passion for the subject is all it takes to get the ball rolling. Everywhere you look online, you encounter passionate people creating content with little more than the fire in their bellies. And there’s nothing to stop brands from doing the same, is there?
Pick any major brand. When you look at its YouTube channel, Instagram profile or Facebook page, what emotion do you feel? The answer is probably irritation – especially if you’re a digital native. To a generation for whom unbridled enthusiasm has become routine, the content strategies of most brands appear aloof, impersonal and devoid of real passion. Served up cold, rather than piping hot.
You can’t help but wonder: Is it really so hard to be interesting? Is it so hard to articulate what drives you? Many brands fail to convert their passion into content, despite having marketing budgets a thousand times bigger than those of VERITASIUM et al. They confuse artificial content strategies with authentic passion.
Communication strategies, and the media content they produce for the brand are often developed on the periphery, far from the core business. The real heart and soul of a brand, however, don’t grow in the marketing department, but rather at the coalface. In the laboratories. On the production lines. The creative furnaces. The places where ideas are conceived and products are born and brought to perfection.
Marketing departments learn about products via data, facts and images – paired with a more or less spelt out brand vision. They have a factual perspective on the company, but not an emotional one. They don’t have any insights on the emotions, the inspiration behind and the development process at the root of a brand.
Marketers often lack an intuitive understanding of what product developers and company visionaries are thinking: what motivates them, why they’re focused on specific details and why they’ve chosen to develop one product over another.
The core business is where you’ll find the true essence of a brand. In amongst the dimensions, formulas, measurements and precision craftsmanship, lies the deeper, fundamental core. The answer to the question of which inner motivation eventually lead to those products or sevices. The big topic with vital importance to our society for which the company is red-hot for with unbridled enthusiasm. What drives this brand? What is it fighting for? What, in this area, is holding people back from unfolding their full potential, and what can a brand do to change that? This is the stuff from which great stories are made.
If your marketing efforts only start once the product has been finalized, you will have a hard time producing an authentic and passionate content strategy. Take, for example, the promotional video for the current generation of Canon EOS cameras: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGh_FaLSe7c
A very professional piece of work, to be sure. Elegantly directed, with a forceful soundtrack and impressive CGI. The viewer gets a detailed overview of the camera’s featuresand all its innovations. of the production doesn’t lack self-confidence. What’s missing, however, is the passion. The video, which runs for nearly four minutes, feels like the audiovisual equivalent of a dry product brochure. Is this the work of someone whose heart truly beats for the subject matter or rather of a professional fact translator?
To see how it’s really done, take a look at Fstoppers.com, a respected community for hobby photographers that sells professional tutorials. They also do some of the best content marketing around. The moment you start watching a teaser for one of their tutorials, you’re swept up into the story. Even if your interest in photography is limited, your fingers begin to itch. You want to conquer the challenges and master the art. Their passion for the subject becomes contagious. There is no better way to sell a product, and the secret to success is genuine passion.
Content is essentially a vehicle for conveying the passion of the people behind the brand. That sense of authenticity creates an emotional connection with the audience and sparks interest. They feel drawn to the brand. They want to be a part of an experience – one that ultimately leads them to buy the product.
This kind of passion cannot be artificially simulated. Where passion is absent, no amount of carefully calculated content strategy can take its place. People have a finely tuned emotional antenna. They can tell when a feeling is authentic, and when it is simply constructed.
When it comes to content marketing, brands are guilty until proven innocent. We assume that a company is primarily interested in its economic performance, rather than its content performance. To convince your audience otherwise, passion alone does not suffice. You need a systematically developed momentum. A consistent and carefully timed approach. You don’t achieve momentum by sprinkling your content here and there, with long pauses between each attempt. You cannot expect to gain a permanent following when your enthusiasm flares up only on rare occasions, delivering a piece or two of remarkable content before fading back into the ether.
What you need are perpetual moments, which gain in substance and impact as time goes on. This is how you establish yourself in the minds of your audience. It’s how you convince people to trust the brand’s fervour and curiosity. This trust in the content perseverance and the stamina to keep delivering is the key to lend credibility to passion. This fusion of passion and momentum is what drives a truly successful content strategy. Your content doesn’t just perform a marketing role; it effectively fervour becomes genuinely relevant to the user.
It’s all too easy to slip into existential zombie mode. Just keep doing what you’re doing, even though you’ve stopped reflecting on why you do it. Without that vitalizing drive which serves as a constant reminder of the deeper meaning and purpose of your own actions, inspiration and enthusiasm will quickly fade. To see an example, look at what happened to Milka, one of the few truly iconic brands in Germany.
Chocolate is one of the greatest delicacies of our time. It has a remarkable history, steeped in tradition. Its chemistry is fascinating. And it comes in an almost infinite number of varieties. For many people, chocolate is the very epitome of indulgence, and Milka is the gateway to this universe of pleasure. Why then, you might ask, does Milka squander this enormous potential? Where is the passion? How can Milka possibly justify such a generic and (let’s be honest) lame YouTube channel?
Why so dull? Milka could use its social media channels to much greater effect. To do this, however, the brand would have to climb out of its purple cow comfort zone and re-aquire the drive that seems to have gone missing in the blind quest for economic results.
There are hundreds of examples of economically successful companies whose content strategy is limited to being "present on the web". While this might be acceptable, it’s certainly not inspiring. And in the long run, it can do serious damage.
If you want to create outstanding content, you’ll have to let real people get to work on it. People who will advocate with real passion for the brand, who won’t rest until they’ve uncovered the true Brand Purpose. Because once they’ve found it, they’ll use it consistently to transform it into content that has the power to enthral.