Do you know how when you’re really hungry, I mean haven’t-eaten-for-12-hours, eat-an-elephant-whole hungry, you’ll grab whatever is in front of you and stuff it down your throat but then when you have an entire buffé laid out in front of you, no matter how hungry you are, you’ll still pick your favourites…just lots of them?
Well, good content works largely in the same way. You cook up a good story and people will come and dine. You cook up a crappy one and serve it on a dirty dish, in a shabby restaurant and people won’t even set foot in there.
Understanding the risk can be intimidating whether you’re cooking the story or managing the business but we tend to forget that there’s a reason every cooking class starts with learning to boil an egg – we need to learn to create simple things well before moving on to more complex things. Today, that’s exactly what we’re doing – we’re talking about the snackable content every single brand can create. In other words, we’re learning to boil an egg.
About the brand
This one should be a no-brainer, except instead of telling the story of a brand in a way that matters to its audience, we tell a boring, linear, impersonal story that reads a lot like the timelines we used to come up with in history class. Now, I love history but that stuff was some of the most sleep-inducing thing ever to grace a classroom. As it didn’t go beyond the battle took place in this year, this side won, this is the battle they fought next, the timeline was completely void of the context that makes it interesting, in the first place.
Instagram vs. Reality, slide to the right → Hi! My name is Madeleine Shelton, I am the lead designer and owner of Botanicamuse. I started this business because I enjoy creating atmospheres for people to relax and enjoy the company of their nearest and dearest in a beautiful space. I offer individualized service and consider it an honor to create for my clients, designing custom installations, hand-selecting flowers and vessels, and developing color palettes that challenge the status quo and play with texture. My focused, friendly, and hard working team work diligently, providing unique designs with a fresh and innovative edge for every client we have the pleasure of knowing. I look forward to helping you create a space that speaks to you and your guests.
The key to making this content format work for you is to think like an idealist. You must have had a vision in mind when you started your business so think about a world in which that vision is fulfilled. What does it look like, how have you made an impact, how is my life, as a reader, better for it? We gobble up honest, relatable aspirational content like ice-cream on a hot summer day.
By shifting the focus away from you, as a business, to how you’re contributing to the community you’re part of humanises the brand considerably and prevents you from looking too salesy.
Behind the scenes
We keep talking about this type of content, encouraging businesses left and right to create it so one might think it’ll soon flop but it won’t and here’s why. Every business is different, with a different company culture, different people, values, goals and so on so their behind the scenes story is going to be different too. It’s a lot like saying if you’ve seen one festival, you’ve seen them all. Not only are they different from each other, the same festival is different year after year.
The trick is to identify the things you do, as a business, every day that might seem dull and routine to you but could, with a little bit of context and backstory, spark the interest of your audience.
Behind the scenes content is easier for product brands to come up with, because they can always showcase how their shoe, shawl or chandelier is built. It, however, works just as well for service brands if you focus on capturing moments with your clients, showcasing how excited people are to fly with your airline or a day in the life of kids at your kindergarten. Not only is this type of content engaging but it also helps humanise the brand.
I find traditional, written and, even worse, anonymised testimonials very cringe-worthy and utterly useless. Maybe you could’ve gotten away with them in to early 2000’s but, today, we live in a world of fake news, fake influencers, fake followers and fake tans. You’d have an easier time convincing someone you lived on the Moon than that you’re anonymised testimonial was real.
Fakery and truth-stretching aside, incorporating your customers’ voice and feedback into your marketing is a gem. It helps us get to know your brand, validates your claims about your products and services, humanises your brand, and helps you build a relationship with current as well as future clients.
They tend to be easier to produce, and much more valuable, when created in collaboration with your clients, giving both brands a boost in visibility and engagement.
One thing I keep hearing from brand for the past few years is We are so people-centric/ people-focused/ all about people…and then you look at their marketing and it’s all brand messages slapped over stock photo-ish shots of their employees. That’s like saying building your house is all about the neighbours.
We need to talk about people as if your business depended on it, which isn’t that much of a stretch. Competitive businesses, today, employ resourceful, creative, insightful people who apply their passion for their profession into their day to day jobs. You can neither attract nor nurture that dynamic by focusing solely on your business and its needs.
Showcasing your employees, their journeys in the company and throughout their careers rather than just how they’re contributing to it, shows you value them as whole human beings, not just in terms of what they can do for your business.
“I never wanted to be an engineer. Having grown up in Silicon Valley, I felt the technology industry was too insular. The turning point for me was realizing I could apply computer science to any other field I was interested in, and by leveraging technology, I could solve problems much more effectively. As an engineer on the Investigation Platforms team, I work cross-functionally with the security, legal, policy and privacy teams at Facebook to track bad actors on our services. The team in D.C. is more than a group of coders. Our engineers build infrastructure to solve the toughest integrity problems the company faces: combatting foreign interference in elections, terrorist activity on our platforms, and threats to minors’ online safety. I’ve also been working closely with recruiting to bring diversity initiatives to this office and I’m attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in the fall. This is why I came to Facebook D.C. – to do our part in protecting people and democracy.” Maya, Software Engineer. Join us in D.C.: www.fb.careers/fbdcswe #ByteSizeBios #FacebookLife #fbdc #WomenCreate
This type of content doesn’t work solely for large corporations with thousands and tens of thousands of employees, it works really well for small, family businesses and artisans who can use it to talk about what motivates them to take on the challenge of running a business, the care they put in their products and much, much more.
The Bottom Line
No matter what business you’re in, you can pick up a wide number of engaging topics and use them to drive ongoing conversations with your audience. You can start with the basics and, in time, add layers of complexity both in terms of topics and presentation, the trick is to find a context in which to educate, delight or entertain your audience; and you can always find at least one.