Content That Connects
Product stories appeal to brands, but people stories attract and engage their audiences. For anyone who works in social media—or simply participates in it—that seems like a no-brainer, but as earlier chapters have already demonstrated, a great many brands still don't get it. According to research by IBM's Institute for Business Value, nearly three-quarters of executives surveyed in 2011 believe the primary reason consumers follow their companies across social media is to learn about new products (see Figure 16.1).1 Yet barely 50 percent of consumers agree with that notion. Even fewer feel closely connected to the brands with which they interact.
At the very least, successful social content must be something that an audience—not a brand—needs or wants. It can run the gamut from primarily utilitarian to purely entertaining (Figure 16.2), but it has to have some perceived value before consumers will engage with it. If the content can evoke an emotion, it is not just viewable, but also sharable. Brands that create sharable content benefit from having consumers talking to other consumers about their product or services rather than having to do it themselves.