A note from our Digital Strategist

It’s 3:40 PM on a Tuesday afternoon and I’ve just wrapped up sending two separate news releases on behalf of one of our clients to 50+ contacts - members of the media, bloggers, YouTube celebrities, and so on. Earlier today I spent the morning learning a bit about an application that enables food brands to implement web and mobile ordering at a cost point and integration strategy that presents a low barrier for adoption. Then, I wrote a blog post about how the application is available as an integration on Squarespace, our chosen web platform. This would make the delicious dishes that our clients craft available to order by consumers anywhere with web access. These are all great uses of my time as Markon’s digital strategist. You know what is not? Creating excessive amounts of content in the name of inbound marketing (call the devil by its name!).

For a while, the prevailing thought was that a robust content strategy would ensure that a message reached the maximum audience. Step one: write / generate everything you can. The keywords will trip search engine algorithms and push your content to the top of someone’s search results. Step two: share on repeat. The idea being that what you share at 9:00 AM doesn't necessarily reach who is browsing the web at 11:00 PM. The more content is shared, liked, or linked to, the higher the signal ranking in search results, and thus the maximum exposure for your brand. (In a nutshell.) In their time, these ideas had merit. However, over time what they’ve contributed to is a deafening static mass of content noise that is turning social media, and dare I say, even the web, into a loud, snarling echo chamber.

Throughout the year I have published post after half-hearted post about content strategy in the spirit of providing advice, of some kind, to the people who develop content for brands - particularly talent-strapped emerging brands. That’s great and all, but when we (Markon) are pushing out 12-20 social media posts per day, and (at one point) 12-15 blog posts per month, things get harried - quickly. Unfortunately, in my not-entirely-sincere quest to bring content strategy tips to brand managers, I have also contributed to the false notion that incessant publication is a strategy worth pursuing. It is not.

Ninety-six percent of smartphone owners utilize their phone for a variety of tasks every day. Most notably, searching for information. Thirty-five percent of consumers consult their smartphone to learn about brands, products, and resources nearby before making a purchase or visiting a store. Social media channels, news apps, and how we explore the web is becoming more personalized. Nearly everything is curated, and that means that it’s categorized and filtered through a channel. Whether this is a positive or negative advance is debatable, but what it doesn’t have to be is a barrier to brands. It does, however, mean that digital strategies have to evolve.

There is another massive shift in the digital sphere. Authenticity is now the barometer for successful digital campaigns. This is a shift that we noticed in 2015 and that will feature prominently in our 2017 Brand and Design Trends Report. Extemporaneous posts are now the order of the day, especially for brands that aim to be personable and communicative. A tweet cast out in the moment, unscripted, unrehearsed, is so much more meaningful than that polished photo you staged last week. Or, the hashtag your team agonized over that never caught on because it seemed abrasive when paired with natural language.

In 2017, the content coming from Markon will be different. There will be more raw photos on Instagram, more behind the scenes video clips, and less graphics crafted by our design team. There will still be blog posts, but we aren’t committing to a schedule. We’ll write posts when news arises, or when it’s relevant to share our thoughts on new technologies, trends, or happenings in the community. Look for more case studies, perhaps even more dynamic case studies. As our (and your) digital strategist, the best thing I can do is continue to explore how emerging brands can adopt technologies, and strategies, to grow in the digital sphere. And, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.