Why Content is ‘Currency’ on Social Media

Shilpi Dubey Pathak
New Update

We live in a world which has already exploded with information, thanks to social media! It is imperative to think that how much information is received and how much gets lost in the process. To top it up it is also important to note that out of the information received, how much is valid and relevant to us.

Content is important and that’s a passé now. What is important is that, is there a context to our content? What is the purpose of the content we are sharing with our audience? Are we talking because we want to talk or because we have something to talk about? And not to forget, where are we sharing this content? What is our platform strategy?

All these questions are pertinent because content is that currency which helps us to grow our social media business.

We need this currency called “content” to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and targeted audience on social media! While the purpose is clear, it is necessary to further divide the audience into types because they are different. Their needs vary and so do their behavior. The audience can be divided in to ‘casual’, ‘connected’ and ‘core’. Now since the audience is of different types, obviously their appetite for content will also vary.

How do we cater to this need? Simple, we divide the objective of the content as per below dynamics -

  1. To Entertain
  2. To Inspire
  3. To Educate
  4. To Convince

Okay, but why do we cater to this audience? It is because we want to convert this audience in to our customers. By using the above methodology, we can touch the customer sweet spot, which exists where interests in audiences are passionate about overlap with the brand’s relevant programs and products. The idea is to relate to the customer through a shared interest. The customer, rather than the brand, should be the driver to brand advocacy and this can happen only when we have powerful content to share with them.

Powerful content need not be heavy duty trade secrets or technical jargons. Content that is contextual is powerful. Content that is experiential is powerful. Content that evokes an action is powerful. How do we create such content? The trick of the trade is to inject ‘emotional connect’ or ‘intellectual stimulation’, whichever is applicable.

Now look at some recent examples that justify the above theorem

1. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Claim to fame: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is easily the most viral campaign of all times so far, already raising over $22 million for ALS research. It is the current social media sensation. Celebrities taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge include famous athletes, top notch politicians, Hollywood & Bollywood stars and business icons such as Bill Gates.

Objective - To entertain, inspire, educate and convince (a rare mixture of all)

What Worked - A simple idea with the intent of charity went exponentially viral because of the power of the video content which was also super fun to watch. The campaign combined with the power of Youtube and Facebook, inspired others to experience the challenge via nominations. It is not only spreading awareness towards ALS but is also raising funds.

Brand that gained – The ALS Association

  1. Ellen DeGeneres's 2014 Oscar Selfie

Claim to fame – Ellen DeGeneres's 2014 Oscar Selfie broke the record for the most retweeted photo on Twitter.

Objective – To entertain

What worked– This purely organic content (selfie in this case) was not only relevant but also contextual since it was shared during the broadcast.

Brands that gained – The Academy Awards and Samsung Galaxy (the selfie was taken from it)

  1. Make-A-Wish Foundation's 'Batkid'

Claim to fame ­-   Make-A-Wish Foundation project occurred on Nov. 15, 2013, in San Francisco, in which thousands of volunteers, city officials and businesses worked to turn San Francisco into "Gotham City," so it could be "saved" by five-year-old cancer survivor Miles Scott, who became "Batkid". The live feat resulted in huge media exposure. There were 406,960 related tweets that day, and more than 21,683 photos were posted on Instagram and Twitter.

Objective – To inspire

What Worked – The whole exercise was to create experiential content which not only triggered a highly emotional response but also inspired the audiences towards the noble cause.

Brand that gained - Make-A-Wish Foundation

  1. Truly Madly.com, ‘India’s Modern Matchmakers’ Breaking Stereotypes Campaign

Claim to Fame - Truly Madly.com, India’s modern matchmaker’s rebel storytelling campaign not only struck the chord well with the youth of India but also went viral on the internet. It achieved its aim in projecting the brand as an advocate of breaking stereotypes of race, community, gender etc. and establish the brand philosophy - ‘true love is beyond stereotypes’.

Objective - To Convince

What Worked – Very relevant content (in this case placard imageries) that echoed well with the urban youth’s sentiments. It was not only empowering but also liberating, thus creating high recall value for the brand.

Brand that gained – Trulymadly.com

5. Berger Paint’s India - The India You Have Seen’

Claim to Fame: Berger Paints recently launched a social campaign titled – The India You Have Seen’ on the eve of the 68th Independence Day, reminding users of the milestones in India’s history, some of which might have gone unnoticed.

Objective – To Educate

What Worked - An intellectually stimulating campaign, based on colourful, informative and engaging content. A timeline of historic milestones appear as you play the game. To top it up, the scoring system promotes the brand subtly.

Brand that gained – Berger Paints India.

There are many other examples that we can talk about here. The reason I took three international and two Indian examples, is to showcase that the core remains the same. If the content is meaty enough and you know how to contextualize it on various platforms, your battle is won. Well, I can’t resist referring to the already much talked-about ‘Oreo Super Bowl Blackout’ example here. The reason it became such a rage online was that it was right there in the nick of time, contextualizing the content that said – “you can still dunk in the dark”.

O.K. let’s come back to the currency concept.  Since content is the currency that we need to grow our social media business, it is critical to define the business goals we want to achieve via content.  Basically our content marketing goals should be aligned with our business goals –

  1. Brand Awareness - Are we monitoring and increasing the brand mentions and plugging PR stories on social media in a regular manner? Dissemination of relevant content on relevant channels is a must to increase brand awareness.
  2. Building Trust – Are we creating content that adds value to our customers? Does our content answer the most commonly asked questions? If we want to build trust among your customers, we not only need to do that but also share expertise. It is natural to trust an expert rather than someone who is a mere broadcaster. This can be done via blogs or social media chats.
  3. Leads – This is perhaps the most critical of all as generating leads is the ultimate goal for any brand. Content can give us the winning edge because it can create that much needed differentiation from hard selling. For example if we want to sell an yoga apparel, we don’t write a sales copy for it but a post on why it is advisable to wear flexible and breathable fabric during yoga. This type of content not only adds value but also establishes our expertise in the subject, which automatically helps in generating leads.
  4. Engagement - This is a tricky one. As a brand we have acquired fans but what do we do with them now so that they don’t leave us? There could be different ways to engage the fans through appealing content that either calls for likes, comments or shares. It is good to define the purpose of the post and measure the responses to form a better content strategy.
  5. Traffic – Earned links and social shares are great methods to gain referral traffic. Guest blogging and social media conversations can help a great deal here.

Therefore, if we know how to create and curate great content, half the battle is won. Why not full? Check this story –

There were three sisters. Their father gave 10000 bucks to each of them. The first one went and kept it in her cupboard thinking she would buy herself a dress on her next birthday. The second one could not resist and spent all of it in shopping for shoes and bags. The third one was smarter. She invested the money in stocks. She kept monitoring the stocks even though it was just a small share.

Almost after a year, when the first sister went to buy her favorite dress, she was shocked to find that the price had gone up by 2000 bucks. She was falling short of money. The second sister had no money left anyways and even the bags and the shoes had worn out. However, the third sister was happy.

The shares had gone up almost double. She sold her shares and received 19000 bucks. She had invested in the right stock at the right time and reaped the benefits by taking out the money just at the right time. She gave 2000 bucks to her first sister so that she could buy her favorite dress. She gave 5000 bucks to her second sister so that she could buy a new pair of shoes. She was left with 12000 bucks out of which she spent 7000 bucks on herself and saved 5000 for further investment.

This is what happens to the currency called good content if you invest it in the right place and the right time. Remember that content is king but media is amplification. So keep sharing good content because sharing is also caring.


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