Two weekends ago I had the opportunity to speak to the vendors of Desert and Denim (more on that later). Since there were many highlights at the show as well as lots of work to be done by said vendors, a few folks missed out on my gems of wisdom (har har har).
I’ve had a few requests to share what I chatted about, so I popped it all together into a blog post – all the intellect, none of the red faced word stumbling from moi. So here it is in all it’s glory.
Content and Community
Let’s kick things off with some bad news. It’s 2017 and no one gives a shit about your brand. You’ve got a kickass logo, a killer website, an incredible product and an amazing story. You have an aesthetic.
You and everyone else.
That’s not to say any of this isn’t important. It’s your foundation. A logo is not your brand. An identity is not your brand. Your product is not your brand. A brand is a persons gut feeling about a product, a service or organization. Brands are defined by individuals outside of your business. That is to say once you jump into social media it’s akin to putting a piece of art into the world. The painter meant to tell the world that they had a terrible childhood, but viewer #1 said it made her think about love in a whole new way and viewer #2 liked the pretty clouds. Your brand doesn’t belong to you once it’s in the social space – and in reality it hasn’t ever belonged to you. It belongs to your audience – your community.
Your brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.
A great example of this is a former client. Their retail experience was a minimalists paradise and their head of merchandising had recently transitioned to a marketing position. Being protective of his “brand” from a merchandisers perspective he wanted to see this minimalist aesthetic translated to social. We did a content analysis. A deep dive into which posts performed best. Our studies told us the opposite, our studies told us a human element was important, that lifestyle content – content that was both beautiful and realistic – outperformed anything else, by about 60%. “But what about our brand!? We want everything on a white background, we want it pristine and we want it minimal!”
Well. This is what I mean. No one gives a shit about what you want. This is the social evolution. This is a land wherein the customer – your community – is always right. You are not creating content in a vacuum, to serve you. You’re not even creating content to serve your “brand”. You’re creating content for your community.
So let’s talk about how you do that, how you serve your community – or your fandom – as my current agency, McBeard, calls it.
“When loyal, passionate fans connect with their friends and followers to be part of a dialogue designed with them in mind, that’s where you’ll find your fandom. But you won’t control it. You don’t own it. And it isn’t about you. Is there something your brand can truly love that isn’t itself? When brands can find a mutual love with fans—something that makes sense for both parties to love—they can enter into the fandom as welcome participants instead of intruders.” – Alan Beard
And it’s worth pointing out that even prior to social media – this was all still true – but now when you market your brand you’re not shouting into the abyss. Social media has provided you with a unique opportunity for actual meaningful dialogue with your potential customers.
The PWC Entertainment and Marketing report put it this way “The formula for success is radically shifting. You must create fans: Active users united by shared interests. As a fan-centric business, you will know more about who your users are, what they want and how to deliver what they want.”
So what does all this mean? Simply. When coming up with a content strategy for your brand you need to think about your fans, or potential fans. Hawking your product on the instagram is not the way toactually sell your product on Instagram. Revolutionary. You have to find common ground with your potential fandom. And this isn’t really hard.
Remember when I said that no one cares about your brand? Well let’s forget about that for a second and think about your brand. Why did you start the brand? In your mind, who was that brand for? Who is your desired customer base? What are they passionate about? You’re going to need to find that, and luckily for most of you here (note: small and maker brands that attend Desert and Denim), that should be easy. None of you are operating crazy soulless conglomerates. That’s why you’re here.
Once you find that focus, that the thing that you’re passionate about, know that you won’t be the only one with that passion. There’s an audience out there that shares that passion. Start thinking about the content you produce through that lens. Produce content that’s going to inspire and ignite your community. Content that tells a story. That’s how you tap into your community. Your fandom.