1. Ian Brodie

    Hi Richard,

    To be fair to USM I suspect the awful phrase “unified brand voice” may be at least partially just a corporate-speak mangling of the sensible desire to not annoy the heck out of customers by saying contradictory things to them depending on who they speak to.

    On your point about the difference between content and social, I’d be interested in moving on from the argument that they’re not the same and hearing more about how they can actually work together. For example, content can trigger social. This blog post is a good example. The post itself is content. But by asking a question you’re triggering a response which you’ll then reply to personally: social.


    • RichardStacy

      It is a bit tricky. Content and information can actually be the same thing – which is why it is hard to draw a line between them based on the content of the content (you can already see the problem). I therefore draw the differentiation based on intent (or possibly context). Something that is designed a single thing to be seen by a large number of people (preferably by an audience), frequently at a time that is determined via the means of distribution (i.e. a time of broadcast or publication) – I call this content. However, if something is designed as a response to an individual in any moment in time (a time determined by the individual’s need or behaviour not a publication schedule) – I call this information – even if, potentially over a long period of time this information may come to be consumed by an audience-sized group of people. The key point is that content works with (in fact requires) an audience – and thus works within audience-based marketing, but tends not to work within the social space (i.e. the world of the individual). Or as I also put it – an ad is an answer to a question that no-one ever asked. Which, incidentally, doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with advertising – only when it is presented as an answer to a question, rather than as a proclamation to an audience. Or as Hugh Macleod put it “If you spoke to people the way advertising spoke to people they would punch you in the face.”

      It is a interesting point though re. my post. By my rules – Is this a piece of content? Probably not. Experience tells me that it is unlikely to be seen by a large number of people! I also find that most of my posts get read long after I have published them – generally as a result of people using Google to ask questions or through some other process of search for information. My most popular post – both of all time and also second most popular post of today as it happens, I wrote in 2007.

  2. Ian Brodie

    Hi again Richard.

    That’s probably the best definition of content vs social I’ve seen. I’ll be using that.

    Where I’m having the most fun right now is the link between the two. Let me give you another example: personal this time.

    Email marketing is my thing. So in theory most of my stuff is firmly in the content camp. I send out emails that thousands of people will open (and hopefully read) and my goal is to send them something useful which will also raise my profile as an expert at what I do (so when they need someone like me they’ll pick up the phone or drop me an email).. But where I have the most fun (and get the best results) is where I use that content to tee up social.

    So I might ask a question at the end of an email. Or say something provocative that triggers a response. My goal is to get a few dozen people sending me a personal email to ask me a question, share some thoughts or otherwise interact with me one to one. I’ll then follow up personally with them – giving them information in your terminology – that’s a specific answer to their question (sometimes a very long one).

    That’s not to say that what I’m doing is special or new or any different to what hundreds of others are doing too. It’s just an interesting example of deliberately triggering social with content. And as you said above, information can become content too, if enough people find it valuable.

    By the way, you’re the subject of tomorrow’s email: “Have you got guts like Richard Stacy?”

    – Ian

    • RichardStacy

      I would like to see that email! Plug the book, plug the book! http://www.amazon.co.uk/Social-Media-Three-Cent-ebook/dp/B00DI4H440. I am not too proud to send a single message to an audience – because that approach still works.

      What you are doing with putting something provocative at the end of your emails is triggering a response – which is ultimately what all forms of direct marketing aim to do. Does this make it social or does this make it simply a more creative and effective usage of direct marketing? I am not sure. My view is that for something to really qualify as social in a marketing context it really has to start with the consumer / customer – they cannot be seen as a target, you are the target – either explicitly or implicitly.

      • Ian Brodie

        Hi Richard – sent out the email before getting your message about the book 🙁 – I’ll mention it in a follow up.

        Just to continue the discussion – I’m not really concerned about whether the call to action makes my email content or information – what I meant was that the original message (which I’d say was content) triggers 1-1 follow ups which are information. So it’s less about what you label each one, more that there’s an interplay where you can use a content broadcast to get people to then engage with you 1-1 which becomes more social.

        • RichardStacy

          That is true. But I guess the watch out here is that a business can end up in trouble when it mixes traditional with social – especially when it puts the traditional in front of the social. You can create these situations where companies create campaigns designed to drive Facebook interactions or create other forms of ‘engagement’ (I am sure you have seen examples of these – I certainly have) – driven by a belief that the best way to create value is to add scale to engagement – thus the amount of so-called engagement becomes the measure of success. In reality the best way to create value is to create less engagement (as a quantity) but to add significantly more value to a much more limited number of ‘engagements’ – this is basically the premise of my book. And it is often hard, though not impossible, to create these type of high value engagements off the back of traditional, audience-based approaches. Engagement, in and of itself, can never be an objective – but this doesn’t stop us awarding prizes to the Facebook posts that generate the most engagement – see http://richardstacy.com/2013/07/11/the-latest-croissant-of-absurdity-from-the-socialbakers/

          With any luck – your approach hasn’t fallen into this trap – but you will only know this when you then measure the impact of the social engagement you are creating and determine whether the value it is generating is greater than the time and expense involved.

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