As a strategist, I think one of the key things we have to constantly ask ourselves and our clients about any of our ideas, content, or initiatives is, “Why will anyone care about this?”
It’s easy to fall in love with our own products, our own brands and our own ideas. We talk about them ad nauseum, dissecting the true roots of a founder’s story or production process and tell ourselves, “Wow, this product/company/service is really so much more amazing than anyone realizes! And now… we just have to remind consumers that they love us!”
The reason why this kind of thinking is especially dangerous now is because of… you guessed it… Social Media. The assumptions of being on Social is that people want to engage with your brand and want to hear from you constantly, that consumers are dying for your brand to engage with them, talk to them, wish them a “Happy Friday,” perhaps.
Brands As Publishers and the Advent of “Always On”
Seven or so years ago, when Social started to gain traction as an effective way for brands to market themselves, there was little to lose and a lot of open space and opportunity to connect with consumers in a new way. The Old Spices of the world defined a voice and a niche, and people wanted to engage because they were entertained.
Brands put in a ton of money to build out their monthly content plans and “act like publishers,” thinking of ways they could find relevance in our consumers’ lives through (sometimes truly irrelevant) tangential lifestyle themes. “Always on” became the mantra — always be talking, always be responding, always be posting! Social’s free, right?
Nope, Social Media Is Not Free Anymore
So yeah… Social Media isn’t free as far as big brands are concerned (we should all know this by now).
But it’s not only that creating content isn’t free, it’s also that content distribution isn’t free anymore. People literally aren’t seeing your Facebook posts. I don’t know what the exact Facebook fan reach percentage is per post, but I think it generally hovers in the low single digits. Somewhere frighteningly close to zero. And even on Twitter without EdgeRank or an algorithm… are we happy as brand managers and agency storytellers with 30 RTs? What business KPI is that hitting, truly?
(Re)Defining Your Brand’s Content Approach with The FCB Grid
Introducing (or re-introducing) the Foote, Cone, and Belding *Tells It Like It Is* Consumer-Product Relationships Grid that I recently uncovered:
The premise: Your brand and product fits into a specific industry or category that has inherently baked-in levels of expected interest or involvement.
This grid is an elegant way to determine not only how much people will care about your brand, but also what your approach to social and digital should be.
Note that this is an exploration of volume and frequency of content. If people are constantly seeking out content in your category, feed them more content… it’s worth it. If not, then don’t waste your time.
For instance, searching for a car battery will likely require a decent amount of time finding / researching the perfect one (“high involvement”), but it’s not something people get super pumped about looking into or read about when they don’t actually need to be buying a car battery (“think,” not “feel”). That’s why it’s in the “High-Involvement + Think” category and not the “Feel” category. Sure, someone who is crazy into cars might be obsessed with car batteries, but I think we can safely assume that most people would be more excited / emotionally involved in the car itself than a car battery.
Cars are something people like to look into, even when they’re not buying cars. As such, cars would be in the “High-Involvement + Feel” category because they’re big purchases but also emotional, exciting ones that people love reading about for funsies.
Here’s how to use this grid to help define your brand content strategy:
1 — Top Right — “High Involvement — Feel”: These are your car brands, your luxury fashion brands, your entertainment brands, etc. Generally things that could be considered “cool.”
This category consists of verticals that people will actually seek out and read about for enjoyment. A good litmus test? Are there mass gen pop magazines dedicated to this space (Vogue / GQ / Town & Country)? If so, you’re in this category.
2 — Bottom Right — “Low Involvement — Feel”: The bottom right is about product categories that people really like, but don’t read about/do a ton of research about…like, ever.
Ice Cream or Popsicles
Certain Condiments (Talking to you, mustard lovers ;P)
3 — Bottom Left — “Low Involvement — Think”: The bottom left is about product categories that people don’t care that much about, and don’t read about for enjoyment or research… period. These are “commodity” type items that just need to work.
4 — Top Left — “High Involvement — Think”: The top left is about product categories that people don’t generally seek out and don’t have a ton of passion for, but they have to care and think about them because they’re complicated and/or important.
And yes, Car Batteries
In summary, this is how I would translate this grid for today:
And this translates into a unique content approach for each of these categories:
Top left: Things people don’t want to give a shit about but have to
Organic and paid, medium volume. Have a robust content strategy about making complicated concepts simple. Find your product’s pain points and focus on those core content pillars. A blog or forum-type object here could make sense as you become an information hub.
Top right: Things most people think are “cool” and seek out
Organic and paid, high volume. Have a robust always-on content plan balanced with campaign moments. People love the pretty pictures and robust, detailed specs of your product. Give them eye and ear candy, but don’t get lost in the shuffle of everyday content. Remember what your brand is about and make sure to create campaign moments throughout the year.
Bottom right: Things people love but don’t read about / do research on
Pay to play, low-medium volume. Have some fun, tell stories, but focus on campaign moments. Feel free to tap into the occasional real-time “National Nutella Day” (if you’re Nutella) through an organic push, but other than that, focus on brand milestones throughout the year.
Bottom left: Things people never think about and just need to live (the basics)
Pay to play, low volume. Unless you’re Old Spice or Dove, people probably don’t care too much about hearing what your brand has to say on any given day. Create unique campaign moments that break through the clutter and tell a story. But don’t expect people to want to engage with you on a daily or even weekly basis.
Last Parting Thoughts:
- Quality > Quantity. The goal is to make the best use of your time, which is why we suggest focusing on quality over quantity. Make those Facebook and Twitter posts SING and stop killing yourself for 15 RTs.
- Low volume does not mean low quality or low impact. Just because you’re a car battery brand doesn’t mean your work can’t be awesome. All we’re saying is that you don’t need to talk to your consumer all the time. Focus on telling your brand story through key moments throughout the year, break through, shift perceptions, and kill it.
- You can break out of your category. We’ve hinted at this already, but the Old Spices and the Doves, and even the Charmins of the world have broken out of their expected categories and built brands that are now known for being content creators and digital/social entertainers. It is possible. But until you get there, be real about where your product/brand belongs in this grid and design your approach accordingly. Once you have that zen-like focus, then your content approach will start to do amazing, magical things.
Go forth, stop wasting your time, and make great content, campaigns and ideas that people give SO many sh*ts about.