It's all about the fleeting moment.
For the longest time, there was a commonly held sentiment that the brands who create the best (and most relevant and most contextual) content will win. Creating content is not easy. It's especially not easy for brands that have been, primarily, marketing-driven organizations. The kind of brands that have seasonal campaigns that are driven by creating as many exposures to the brand as possible. These types of campaign-led companies have always (and will continue to) grapple with the creation, editing and nurturing of valuable content. We know that brands who have a fundamental grasp of creating content are brands that have embraced a publisher's mindset. They see content over an extended period of time and as an enabler of extending the brand narrative in new, unique and more shareable forms.
It's not easy and it's getting harder.
It's ironic to see so many brands embrace Facebook and the content creation capabilities of the channel because of how easy Facebook makes it to create, publish and share content. The race to get as many Facebook likes as possible continues. You see it every day on TV and in print as brands end the majority of their advertising with a "don't forget to like us on Facebook"-type of call to action. It's true that Facebook is awesome for keeping a brand fresh. Never has it been easier to have an idea and be able to share it with the world, instantly. But is it working? This is where the irony kicks in...
It's working for some.
It's doubtful that we're talking about the standard 80/20 rule. It's more likely that there is only a small percentage of brands who are truly leveraging the Facebook channel to tell a better story and create more tangible connections. It's also increasingly challenging because it's not just about Facebook. There is an overwhelming amount of channels for people to connect in the social media spheres (YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and on and on). This means one thing: the ability to capture attention and keep it in the world of the real-time stream is not easy.
It's starting to get even more complicated.
Yesterday, MediaPost, published the news item, Marketing Content Has Short Shel Life On Facebook. Here's the crux of it: "A new study from Omnicom's OMD concludes that the average content posting by an advertiser on a Facebook page has a surprisingly low shelf life: about 18 hours... One post a day was optimal -- any less and there's a risk that brand awareness and engagement by consumers will wane, while multiple daily posts are more than the typical fan wants or can keep up with. 'The impetus is on content managers to update their pages while not overwhelming fans,' the report states." Translation: you have to create 365 pieces of content each and every year (at least) and - in the best case scenario - that content will resonate for in and around 18 hours at a pop. If you're lucky.
Does this make any sense?
There's always many different viewpoints to bring to data like this. It will be easy for brands to throw their arms up in the air and claim that these types of report don't incite value to the overall economic value of the brand. That's true. But, this report is not taking into account the aggregate effect of brands that are present on a channel like Facebook and (hopefully) engaged with the people they are connected to. What is that worth? The truth is that the majority of content doesn't have a substantial shelf life because it's simply not interesting. The truth is also that in a saturated marketplace, brands have to understand the value that comes from not only creating content that is compelling but in sticking around to see it through. Not as a one-off but as a long term commitment to something (and that something is the result of defining a better digital marketing strategy).
This news item makes it clear: you don't have a long time to make a good impression. Brands on Facebook (and other social media) are relegated to the same laws of the real-time Web as everyone else is. If your consumers are not connected and watching you when you publish your content and try to engage, it doesn't matter how many friends and followers you have. It simply becomes more digital tumbleweeds. It's also important to remember that getting started is hard simply because your content will (most likely) have a very short half-life - and that's all the way through.
Lots to think about as the concept of content marketing evolves.