Stop Imposing Expertise
The world of content marketing has built cities and suburbs full of ‘thought leaders’ who talk down to others. Lets not get too carried away with these new found responsibilities and imposing expertise onto everyone.
What businesses need to adopt is a mindset where they interact with people. It is not about establishing a hierarchy just because someone has learnt a subject matter a bit more in depth than someone else.
The Bottle Of Milk You Didn’t Ask For
A few weeks ago, U2 imposed the equivalent of putting a bottle of milk into people’s fridges that they weren’t asking for (Bono’s words not mine). Their new album, Songs Of Innocence automatically found its place in over 500 million iTunes music libraries. A perfect example of using technology ‘because you can.’ The audiences space was being invaded by someone else bestowing their product, or in this case a new album. I know we should be grateful that Apple has given us a free album, but if your entire listening back catalogue has been devoid of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Beautiful Day and Mysterious Ways then why be crow bared into listening to the band now. Just because other people like U2 doesn’t mean that I have to.
This is where the argument is. I believe that people should not relentlessly impose themselves onto others. I am not saying that it is wrong to share a point a view, but lets at least do it in a way where we can learn and share together, rather than create a hierarchy where someone directs their knowledge onto someone else and proceed to do it heavily. This to me is the biggest downside of creating content, where there is no affiliation with an audience but a constant spewing of ‘look at me’ type of messages.
Forcing It On Everyone Else
If I can put this into context, it is similar to being at a party when the end of the night draws closer but there are people still up for enjoying the remainder of the night. It is the moment when someone pulls their guitar out and showcases to everyone the quality of their guitar playing with Wonderwall and a Jack Johnson song. Whilst it starts off with a novelty and fun to be part of, when Hotel California is then followed by Under The Bridge, it becomes a tiresome process that you have to be part of and isn’t followed up by ‘any requests?’
When content is pushed, rather than sharing lessons learnt, it can become a monotonous exercise directed towards an audience. The channels that are now freely available to share ways to talk down to other people are burgeoning. People want to feel they are part of something, not a one-way stream of knowledge and regurgitating a message seen elsewhere.
Where Value Is Heading
The biggest opportunity for businesses to grow is to work collaboratively with people and not become a pillar that is looking to stand above everyone else. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder with others or in the words of Trevor Young, author of microDomination, “some of your brand’s biggest supporters might not even be customers themselves but can be very influential in the overall scheme of things.” I fully endorse this sentiment that encourages a collaborative economy where the currency is participation.
The collaborative economy is seen by brands that are building increasing influence. Room rental site Airbnb is set to be valued at $13 billion (£8.1 billion) and taxi app Uber with a valuation of $17 billion (£10 billion), according to Fortune. This only highlights the importance of building brands that make a connection. The consumer of content is now the hero, not the company who is peddling their products and services and hiding behind a loose term called ‘valuable information’.
The better experiences will be with those who can share value and feel part of something, rather than sitting at the back of the classroom being dictated too from a textbook theory from 40 years ago. The online equivalent of this is someone’s newsfeed that is predominantly focused on distributing their own articles, rather than being part of their wider community and having more social interactions.
We are all currently finding our space to understand what works. This isn’t something that is found and cherished short-term, it takes work, a lot of work and commitment. One thing that I do know is that the traditional methods of, ‘we are experts in (insert name of industry/service provided)’ does not work anymore. Many companies are still progressing with this because it is easy to look over their shoulder and see others who are doing this and is the easiest point of difference by proclaiming how good you are. Author and speaker, David Meerman Scott says it succinctly by saying, “Nobody cares about your products and services (except you).”
No business can enforce themselves onto others as the voice to pay attention to. The decision to whether a point of view is worth listening to lies within the consumer. Once this has been established then can become easier to build a dialogue and flow of conversation.
Much like U2’s extra bottle of milk in the fridge (their new album), no business can create value by commanding themselves onto others. The way to generate value is to connect that can encourage demand. Businesses can do this by investing time and resources in understanding what their audience wants. Once they have achieved this, then businesses can bin the ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking’ approach and be more associated with Lionel Ritchie’s ‘Hello.’