The Truth About Content Trends

The content of this post was originally presented at the Content360 conference, held in Manila, Philippines, on April 27, 2017.

I’ve always felt that talking about ‘trends’ in events or conferences is dangerous. If a speaker is not careful, the discussion of trends may come off as ‘suggestions‘ or even ‘recommended action steps‘. I believe that this is dangerous because trends, by their very natures, come and go – and are rarely long-term pillars of brand-building.

Get the fundamentals right.

The Valentine’s Day series of Filipino fast-food brand Jollibee gave us all a rude but necessary awakening when we are brave enough to see beyond the shiny new toys of platforms and technology – and focus on the fundamentals of storytelling.

The feeling is the message. Content trends tend to focus a little too much on what’s new, what’s sexy, and what’s super-exciting. The problem with this is that it puts the execution before the emotion. We must remember that brands are essentially utilities for people; to get them to talk about our brands (which helps brands become constantly available mentally), we need to tap into an unaddressed or underserved emotional need.

Be true to the soul of the brand. There is no monopoly on stories. There is no monopoly on ideas. It is totally dependent on whether or not a story told by a brand is authentic to what its consumers believe of a brand. Can you imagine a tire company or a roofing sealant brand tackle the complex emotions and perspectives of love? Neither can I.

Trends are not rules. One of my managers shared a quote recently: “Media changes; the rules of great creative do not.” It made perfect sense to me. There was a time when Netscape and Yahoo ruled our browsers. There was a time when we invested brains, feelings, and time on Friendster, Multiply, and even Google+. Now, we hold a moment of digital silence for them. What is new, sexy, and super-exciting is not necessarily The Way and The Truth – merely ways to tell the truth.

Creativity is the only way to survive.

At the end of the day, I believe that platforms and technology do not and should not replace the power and magic of a great Truth told very well. They help propagate ideas more efficiently and far more effectively, but they need great content to begin with.

Hack Sheet:

  • Champion an emotion. In the world’s most emotional country, which unaddressed or underserved emotion could we be champions of? And champion it well?
  • Stay true to the soul of the brand. Just because ‘everyone is doing it’ shouldn’t mean YOUR brand should. If it is not true to what the brand stands for, skip it (or give it a good, long thought).
  • The story comes before the platform. The platform is a vehicle that amplifies a story, not the other way around.

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