Skip the salad: people want beef

In the world of marketing and social media, it is holy writ: content is king.

Consumers are tired of “interruptive marketing” that bombards them with shallow, manipulative messages, urging them to buy something. “Stop this,” they are saying, “and give us information that is trustworthy and useful; engage our intellect and not just our wallet.”

The name for this approach is “content marketing”. If companies embrace it, so the argument goes, consumers will respect them more and therefore view their products and services more favourably. Ultimately, this will encourage them to become loyal customers.

But putting a crown on content is easier said than done. Today’s PR practitioners and marketers are incredibly skilled at playing the keyboards of social media. But quite a lot of what they produce is uninspiring.

In musical terms, two lines of copy plus a photo on Facebook constitute little more than a “jingle”. Yet this is often all the content you get.

Companies are told such communication will encourage people to engage and grow with their brands. But how brand-engaging is it when an insurance company puts up a picture of a Caesar salad accompanied by a message which says, “Going out for lunch today? Here’s a healthy meal.”

Their marketers will tell you this is evidence of the company’s commitment to healthy living, because it sells health insurance. Well, their hearts may be in the right place, but this kind of communication struggles mightily to make that case. You have to be truly starved for content to “like” this company and become a loyal customer on the strength of it.

And will you go for that attractive mortgage, because the bank’s ad for it has been posted five times in one day? If that’s not interruptive marketing, what is?

Perhaps Linked In would be better than Facebook for your business to engage audiences. But even there – especially there, some might say – your content needs to be solid. It’s not enough to “channel” Richard Branson and “like” everything Elon Musk has to say.

If businesses in Barbados see their future in relationships that are developed on social media, they need to think through what they will say there. Generating content that connects – and doing so day after day – is no small challenge.

Such content must be useful, credible and clever; witty even. Forget the Caesar salad: the people are hungry for beef.