Are apps changing the rules of content for PR?

Some of you may remember the irritating, ‘crawler’ ads that used to move across movie video cassettes in the 90s.

Those were actually the good old days. Today in just one minute of Internet time, over 278, 000 tweets are sent out, 41,000 people post on Facebook, another 2 million have searched Google, 72 hours of video is uploaded on YouTube and over 3,600 pictures sent to Instagram.

Now, with the rise of apps and interactive notification centres, yet another layer of complexity has been added to ensure that your content reaches the right target audience.

Apps and notification centres are changing the content game

Mark W. Schaefer, Executive Director, Schaefer Marketing Solutions explains that as the way Apps are viewed changes they also become both a key idea and concern going forward for content strategies.

Mark says, “Up until now, content marketing has been pretty straight forward – create helpful and compelling content and figure out a way to get it to the top of Google search results. But that is all changing and let me provide an example. Today, much of the content I read is "pushed" to me through an app called Zite. Zite learns what I like over time, similar to the way Pandora might determine your musical tastes. In this environment, the content I create and the SEO I invest in have no impact on whether my content gets through to the user. The user, through these evolving apps, is essentially creating a filter based on preferences to keep new products and new ideas out!”

Mark adds that, “The challenge for marketers will now be even more profound. We will not have to fight though search results. We will have to fight through app results and filters by creating experiences so interesting that we invite our customers out of their filter bubbles.”

What kind of content will work in the future?

Sonia Huria Gupta, Vice President, Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd. and Head of Corporate Communications, says that the key to keeping the audience interested is to, “Keep it simple, engaging and visual. The live gig, video and infographic have evolved as some of the most effective ways to influence audiences and keep them coming for more.”

For Mark, “There is no blanket answer to the issue of standing out in a world of increasing information density. It is highly dependent on the competitive circumstances of your industry. For example, some niches may still be devoid of helpful content, representing a ripe opportunity for a marketer. In a crowded niche, you will certainly have to do something more strategic than simply pumping out blog posts or videos. You will need to examine your ability to manoeuvre very carefully – can you create different types of content? Target an under-served audience? Use promotion or distribution in a more skilful way? Dominate a certain platform?”

Silva Panaanen, Head of India Operations at Promade Communications India Pvt Ltd, advises content strategists to, “Adopt more unusual styles, use pictures, visualise the messages and keep the messages short.  As a foreigner in India (for 6 years), my observation is that even columns and blogs in India tend to be frightfully long and repetitive.”

Silva also points out that, “One should be very careful not to use sexist pictures (another phenomena typically Indian which most foreigners will find totally out of line). We all must have seen the horrendous shoe ad in early November of Alberto Torresi. They have silently removed the outraged comments from their FB site!”

Shweta Munjal, Head of Corporate Affairs, South Asia, Thomson Reuters, says that, “As a communications person, whilst creating content I always keep the KISS (keep it simple and straightforward) philosophy in mind. For me that means simple content and design together that make a package. And, you can’t separate a good design – I call it the delight factor – with powerful content as they go hand in glove.”

Shweta adds, “Content created for the latest movie, ‘Bang Bang’, was highly engaging and hit the nail with the target group they set out to connect with.”

Kunal Kishore Sinha, Founder Director, Value 360 Communications Pvt. LTD, agrees that, “Breaking out of the clutter and gaining a unique mind share is imperative for every brand today. Gone are the days when traditional tools of promotion and tried and tested communication campaigns and ideas used to yield requisite results.”

Personalising content

Silva says, “I believe we are going into more segmented and personalised content.  In many western countries many retail outlets collect a lot of data from the loyalty cards and target accordingly their messaging. However, all this may require multiple layers of applications, meaning new applications which are needed to make sense of several other applications. Analytics do help, but personally I believe at some point at least the more seasoned consumers will say “enough is enough” and they will switch off.”

According to Mark, “The key to winning is not just creating content, it will be creating content that moves. An investment in content will be under-utilised if nobody reads it, engages with it or shares it. So to get the content to move, we have to get people to feel something about it. The content becomes like the clothes they wear or the car they drive. It is an external representation of their own self-identity. So from that perspective, yes, the content we share is a highly personal decision.”

Examples of clutter breaking content: Soul Pancake and Adidas

Mark feels that the future belongs to the content creators who are focused on delivering quality content to a niche. “One example of this is the site, Soul Pancake. They are devoted to answering the big questions of life in a fun, entertaining, and sometimes profound way. Their approach has now resulted in a profitable business, books, and now even a television program. Their content is not focused on SEO or tricky headlines that drive traffic. Their success comes 100% through honest, amazing, entertaining content.”

Mark adds, “If you want to look at a more corporate type of example, I love the way Adidas is creating beautiful adventure videos to promote their Outdoor division. My neighbour told me he spent an entire evening just watching videos of athletes hanging from cliffs. He was living vicariously through these videos and building an emotional connection to the brand.”

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