How content affects all of your relations

Van Gennep

The rapidly changing world around us has consequences for your marketing strategy. It’s not that the essence of marketing has changed so much. We still aim at target groups. We still brand our products and services. Marketing is still about fulfilling the needs of your customers. Sure, there are many new communication channels. But in essence they don’t differ from the traditional channels we are used to. Or do they?

To start with, all information has become transparent. Every enterprise is faced with this phenomenon. Enterprises once had exclusive ownership of information and had a certain advantage over the ignorant customer. They benefitted greatly from this advantage. But thanks to the internet, they had to hand over this advantage to the consumer, who is now in control. From financial advice, to information about travel or housing, everything can be found online. Transparency and authenticity are therefore more important than ever, because not only are these new consumers empowered with information, they also have the means to react, or swing opinions through social media.

Recipients are no longer just recipients

And there is a second important development in media and communications – the recipients of information no longer act as just recipients. Instead, they have the means to start sending information using mobile devices and social media. These means empower them to mobilise other consumers or like-minded people. The target group is no longer a mass of people you use to effuse your message, suddenly they started taking part in the conversation. They communicate publicly about you, your products and services with friends, followers and strangers. Sharing knowledge and content… effecting your brand!

Over the last years content has become liquid. Today, content can easily be reshaped and adapted for every thinkable communication channel. It’s also easier to distribute content than ever before. The creation and distribution of content is no longer the exclusive domain of publishers and media companies. For decades they had the monopoly on printing information on paper or sending it through the ether. Because of the digitisation and the internet, every company can now be a media company.

The end of linear content consumption

We are facing the end of linear content consumption. Netflix, Spotify… Consumers decide which media they consume and when they do so. In traditional media, people are channel surfing away from commercials and circulation figures are dropping rapidly. People are searching the information and entertainment they need online. Just sending out your message using paid media has become less and less effective. You can no longer buy the consumers’ attention, but you have to earn it by presenting them attractive, interesting and relevant content.

Content plays a crucial role in all these developments. Content is the new term for what we used to call information. The word information derives from the Latin ‘in formare’, which means so much as to shape, or to construct. Information is transferred between two or more entities using a medium, and it is the shaping factor between the entities. Information creates the relation. By changing the information between entities, their relationship changes. You can change any relationship by changing the information between the entities.

The value of content

These entities can be anything or anyone – objects, animals and humans. When I see water vapour over my coffee, that is information. It determines the relation that I have with that cup of coffee because it tells me: don’t drink me yet, I’m too hot! Information can be pictures, text, sounds, smells, colours, the way you look, the way you act. Information can be what you do, or what you don’t do. If you ignore someone, that is information too and it will shape our relation with that person in a negative way.

Information also changes the relationship between your company and the consumer. So if you want to change the relation from being just a member of the public to being a customer, you’ll have to present the right information, or content. Content is the whole of information, text, animation, pictures or video that is disclosed on- and offline and is shaping your customer relation. Content can have several functions. Content can be informative or entertaining. Content can be commercial, transactional or service providing. Content is not limited to your website, but it concerns all information and interactivity that brings value to the relationship between you and the customer. On all channels.