If you don’t curate your brand, someone else may do it for you
The savvy marketing professional may remember April 23rd, 1985 – the day that The Coca-Cola Company announced that it was changing its venerable Coke formula that allegedly hadn’t been altered since 1886. The public outcry in response was so visceral and severe that Coca-Cola was forced to reverse their decision.
Remarkably, this issue even hit the courts: consumer groups actually challenged Coca-Cola’s right to control this brand, arguing that the original Coke was so imbedded in the culture that it was now part of the public domain.
So like Coca-Cola, companies spend significant time, energy, and expense developing their brand, defining their message, and establishing their identity to the public. But a lot has changed since 1985. So now in the course of brand-building, businesses create digital assets, including websites, blogs and of course social media, in an attempt to create a conversation about their brand.
But community conversations have a dark side. Digital and social assets become stale as the irrepressible flood of new content pushes messages further and further away from the top story, the latest post, or list of trending tweets. As this happens, control of the conversation that these companies worked to create shifts away from the entity and perhaps toward competitors. But even at the bottom of the pile, these assets can have value — a well-crafted message is timeless.
The challenge, then, lies in resurfacing these assets when and where they support and enhance the desired brand image, and thereby hopefully shaping the conversation.
The Impact of the Digital Revolution
It was not long ago that advertising, pushed to consumers in print and television, was the primary mechanism for propagating a message to the public. But with the emergence of the Internet, consumption has increasingly been replaced by creation, and push has given ground to pull.
This transition was no accident. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and hundreds more, are built for sharing content. Combined, blogs and social media dominate content on the Internet. At their root, blogs and social media represent a democratization of content and publishing, where a brand’s story is conveyed, but not necessarily by the company that owns the brand. Rather, the story is often told by consumers sharing what they like – or don’t like – about a particular company or brand.
The goal has shifted from passive saturation to active engagement and the brand campaign cycle has shortened dramatically. Whereas a print campaign might last for three months with a reach of 10 million consumers, a story on TechCrunch leaves the front page within six hours. As a result, the digital revolution has necessitated that successful brand management becomes an ongoing, active and extremely dynamic process.
A Brand’s Invisible Web
The shortened brand campaign cycle is a reflection of the shortened news and information cycle precipitated by the Internet. Content is now published, through news organization, blogs, and social media, in a steady and never-ending stream. But individuals can only pay attention to so much at once. Yesterday’s content is quickly forgotten for whatever is at the top of the stack today, only to be buried by what comes next.
This creates an “invisible web” of content — the content that still lives on the Internet but is hidden from view by virtue of being off of the front page and out of the limelight. A brand’s invisible web, then, consists of the sum of brand-relevant content on the web, both positive and negative, past and present. The invisible web for a brand is a 360-degree, archival view that represents the history of engagement and conversation about the brand in the public sphere, which can either be exploited by the brand owner, or by its competitors.
The challenge, then, is clear: whoever controls the invisible web controls the brand message.
Automated Curation & Personalization
The paradox facing brands today is that if they have executed their marketing strategy effectively, they have established a vibrant, ongoing conversation about their brand in the marketplace. However, by virtue of achieving that result, the amount of content about the brand that exists on the Internet makes it virtually impossible for a person – or even a small team – to manage this content flood.
Applying automated content discovery technology lets computers do what humans cannot — continuously scan the web for content related to a brand, allowing an entity to make full use of the invisible web. By tapping into the wealth of content that is relevant to a specific brand, a company has the opportunity to become an influencer – a thought leader – rather than just a shill for their own products and services.
Advanced content discovery tools like Trapit provide brand managers with the ability to automatically curate content relevant to their products or categories, reviving beneficial content from the invisible web and delivering it to the community when that content is most important.
Curate your brand’s content. If you don’t, someone else may do it for you.