Detach and distribute to create meaningful connections
One of the most powerful trends shaping the web today is the notion of detaching and distributing content from a central location. Technology keeps coming at us, but for the first time, it is being focused on allowing people to consume content on their own terms.
We, as marketers, are challenged with a seemingly endless stream of new ways to connect with audiences: rich media, RSS, social networks, podcasts, widgets, mobile, in-store advertising. One client of mine at SAP, a giant enterprise technology company, told me about a developer who was running SAP ERP software with his Wii console! These are all part of our reality today. And they all are examples of "distributed" ways audiences are now consuming content and services.
What is distributed content? It's simply the packaging of brand content or functionality and delivering it to audiences wherever they naturally spend their time. For example, people naturally spend time on their computer desktops every time they get on their computer, so a desktop widget is a great vehicle for distributing content to them.
Media plans have traditionally been crafted to lure "targets" to a destination like a website or landing page. Today, people are more empowered, so perhaps it's time for websites to come to them. The implication for marketers is that you need to inject this potentially counterintuitive logic into your plans.
Facebook just announced that it has more than 150 million members. If you believe its statistics, 54 percent of those members log in every day, and spend an average of 22 minutes a day there. That's a significant chunk of time. It's where people live. If brands can have a meaningful interaction inside of Facebook (or LinkedIn or Dogster.com or wherever they choose to spend their time), why try to pull them to another website purely for the purpose of marketing to them outside of their interests?
Websites are not about to disappear. However, their decade in the sun as the exclusive place brands live online is coming to a close. We've always targeted ads to our audience. Now, it's fairly simple to target them with even more.
They key point about content distribution from a user perspective is choice. To have an interaction on someone's own terms means they have to choose you. And nobody really wants to be "friends" with a brand unless they perceive a benefit from it. If you want to be on my iPhone (or desktop or blog or whatever), you better bring it. There needs to be some value there. And that value better be relevant both to your brand and to my life outside the world of my phone or my social network.
Yet, uncovering this relevant value is not easy. It's an art to determine relevance and value for a group of unknowns, just as it's an art to determine what the appropriate distribution vehicle is for this relevant value.
But guess what, agency people. It's now part of your job to figure it all out.
Rest assured, relevant value is attainable. And the depth of customer engagement it can bring is worth the effort.
I'm glad you asked...
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