It’s hard to scroll through a Facebook newsfeed these days without being affronted by life lessons. These pearls of wisdom aren’t from your best friend in Vietnam, your Matric biology teacher or your mother – they’re lessons from brands.
The information ranges from the mundane, ‘How not to fall asleep at your desk’, ‘How to fold your clothes to better fit your wardrobe’, or ‘How to boil the perfect egg’ (that one’s surprisingly common) to the utterly absurd: ’10 ways to clean your kitchen with Coca-Cola’.
As our newsfeeds become so inundated with these unrequested titbits of – often useless – information, you can’t help but ask: why is an insurance company telling me how to keep my yolk runny? Why is an energy drink telling me how to re-arrange my cupboard? Or more importantly, who asked them in the first place?
When it first slipped onto the scene, content marketing on social media was like the unknown, good-looking foreigner at the party: you’re interested; you’re intrigued and spend time engaging because they seem romantic in their exoticism. Fast forward five years, and the novelty has no doubt worn off. Their eccentricities are no longer exciting.
At one time, brands could subtly inject your newsfeed with posts about home care, health or gardening and you’d hardly notice. In fact, you might even give it a click or a tap. But we’re now acutely aware of the game they’re playing and the content marketing equivalent of unconscious banner blindness has set in.
To put it more simply: I just don’t believe that an insurance company knows or cares whether I boil my egg perfectly. It’s just disingenuous. Generation Z is calling B-S on ‘lifestyle’ social content marketing that has an – at best – tenuous link to the brand using it for marketing.
All this time, the term ‘brand loyalty’ is being bandied about to substantiate content marketing. But in reality, being ‘loyal’ to the identity of a brand on social media because of the content they disseminate, often has little or no relation to whether I’d invest in that product or service IRL (In Real Life).
To put it simply, if your product or service isn’t working to exceed expectations (or at least meet them) IRL, it doesn’t matter how many egg-boiling advisory boards your brand has on URL (online). Only once the real thing, the tangible, purchasable and usable product has won people over, will ‘brand loyalty’ be worth anything on social media. Brands have to start by establishing real-life brand advocates, before they amass digital ones.
If you’re offering me an incredible product or service, something for me to believe in and buy repeatedly, I can tolerate and even enjoy your content marketing, because the fact that I’ve bought your product means I am, in some small way, already advocating that lifestyle.
Online, a ‘like’ costs me nothing but a tap. A ‘like’ IRL requires me to spend my hard-earned money on something. They’re two different universes, and my behaviour in one doesn’t determine the other. So if your brand’s call centres are lousy, your stores are disorganised, your clothes fall apart at the seams after one wash, or your waitresses are rude, don’t rely on expert egg-boiling tips online to win me over.
Content marketing can and does work on social media, but it’s about having the foundation from which to work. Instead of peppering newsfeeds with ill-conceived content, why not use the social space to first find out what people think of your brand in the real world?
Use it to gather data to fix real-life problems, then focus on your content marketing strategy. Until I’ve seen you master the perfect soft-white-to-runny-yolk in real life, don’t try and boil my digital egg.