Letting the Consumer Become the Content Creator
January 22, 2013
I’m going to let you in on a secret. Over the next few years, things like “engagement” and “interaction” will become buzz words of yore. They’ll still matter, but I believe they’ll be replaced with words like “creation” and “participation.” Campaigns will be measured less by Facebook likes and more by how truly invested your audience is in your brand. With professional digital tools finding their way into the hands of even the most amateur content creator, making the decision now to give your audience what they need to create on your behalf is essential if you want to make your brand stand out and not just add to the (easily ignored) noise.
Give your fans tools
Your audience is likely already creating whether it’s music, art, film, tech, or something else! Why not give them the direction and tools to do so while simultaneously being an advocate of your brand? For example, Beck’s Song Reader, an album consisting of 20 songs that have only been released as sheet music, activated his fan base to not just make music but to make his music come to life. By setting up a website where fans could go to post videos and audio files, he created an online creative community all centered around one thing – his music.
Let your fans tinker
Not only should you give your audience tools, you should give them the space to use them. Once your product is in the wild, closing it off to tinkerers is the last thing you want to do. Invite them in! They may do something amazing with your product that you never thought of. Microsoft did that with the Kinect, and even a cursory visit to Kinect Hacks will yield hundreds of remarkable ideas. Some of our coolest ideas here at Neiman in our Labs unit have come from tinkering with other brands like Nerf and Twitter.
Give your fans incentive – it’s a win-win
Lastly, make sure you reward your audience. In 2011, Coca-Cola asked fans to bring one of their brand promises to life. In return, they not only paid the winners, but also nominated them for the Cannes Lions! Upwards of 2,500 entries came flooding in (including high-quality professional photography, video, and animation), helping the brand achieve a 900% productivity gain (vs. traditional briefing) while activating their community around their campaign. Giving incentive whether through free product, a paycheck, or international awards helps make sure your audience is not just invested in creating, but invested in creating the best work they possibly can for you.
Is your brand’s value becoming your ability to support and allow your audience to make things on your behalf? I say yes! It helps your audience feel like they’re doing something more meaningful than clicking the “like” button. Brands aren’t made in boardrooms. Instead, let your fans create a part of it. They’ll identify more closely with and become more loyal to your brand (which should mean more publicity, promotion, and sales for you!).