Before discussing how to create remarkable content, let’s review why it’s important.
There are a few people I regularly cite in my work and my classes and marketing thought leader Seth Godin is one of them. In his book Purple Cow, Godin explains how businesses can transform themselves by being remarkable. His book Meatball Sundae extended this concept to the Internet and is the foundation of the introduction to the Digital Activism course.
Check out the video below. I’ve pulled a quote where he references businesses but in virtually every instance, you can replace “business” with “political campaign.”
Well [businesses] misunderstand [the Internet] because they think it’s like TV. They think that the job of the Internet is to be like it used to be but for free. And if you view your website or your banner ads or your YouTube videos or your Twitter account like more chances to yell at more people, you will fail. That in fact, what the Internet is about is connecting people to one another.
The Internet demands that you be remarkable. Average doesn’t cut it and shouting at more people doesn’t cut it. Here’s how to be remarkable.
I’ve been using several criteria to describe remarkable content for several years and the more I observe, the more I believe in these three tests. Good content either educates, entertains or inspires. Great content does all three.
Education is the cornerstone of content marketing and is, frankly, the easiest to pull off. Any activist should be able to generate content that makes people smarter. It’s important – no, critical – that the content makes the reader better able to accomplish one of their own goals, not one of yours. I know this seems weird and it’s virtually unheard of in the world of politics, which seems hopelessly fixated on chest-beating.
Sometimes content is remarkable because it finally inspires us to do something we already knew we should but hadn’t done for one reason or another. Nike is quite possibly the king of inspirational content. Most marketing is focused on fulfilling demand. When you educate people about your campaign, you’re assuming (and/or hoping) that there is a demand. When you inspire, you’re creating demand.
Sometimes content is remarkable because it makes us laugh or cry. The most frequently viral content on the Internet is funny. Whether it’s “the most interesting man in the world” or “Charlie bit me” or cats on treadmills, humor goes a long way. Military reunion videos have become a tearjerking viral phenomenon. When it comes to political campaigns, this is probably the toughest to pull off. It’s also risky. We tend to think that anything entertaining is “unprofessional” and doesn’t belong in a serious political discussion. Maybe you don’t have the comedic timing of Dollar Shave Club or the video production skills of Hubspot. Blendtec took a fairly pedestrian product and created an Internet sensation with its low-budget, deadpan product demonstrations. Rand Paul accomplishes both education and entertainment with his annual Festivus Report of greivances.
Humor can be risky, especially in a political context. People are easily offended. One sure-fire tactic is to employ self-depricating humor. There is virtually zero chance that you’ll offend anyone and it’s easy to get people to laugh at your own ridicule.
Educational content is the meat and potatoes of digital activism. But when you can add inspiration and/or entertainment to the mix, it takes your activism to a whole new level.