Ellen McGirt, Senior Writer, Fast Company, is hosting a very cool panel about how brands are using content to build relationships:
- Bob Bowman, President and CEO, MLB Advanced Media
- Noah Brier, Cofounder, Percolate
- Scott Roen, VP Digital Marketing and Innovation, American Express
Roen says content is more like service than sales or advertising. It’s a way to start a dialog with customers and prospects in a way that we could have never done before. One thing content has done for American Express is let them innovate beyond the company’s initial or core business. Of course, they are and will remain a credit card company, but increasingly they’re becoming a total resource for small business.
Brier says we had to become content creators. On social networks, there’s no place for traditional advertising. We have to be a natural part of the ecosystem – creating, tweeting, talking the way a person would.
Both advertising and content start the same way – understand the people, the culture, the context. But advertising doesn’t always work at that level of human connection – the product pushes forward. In true content creation, you have to deliver things people want and value.
Open Forum: The Small Business Community
Open Forum is a community of small business owners that was inspired by the physical world. This was before Twitter and Foursquare. Facebook was still closed (just for college students). At that time, American Express was hosting small business events all around the country. At the events, they saw that people were veraciously consuming the content and walking around networking like mad. They’d leave with stacks of business cards.
It just made sense to bring it online. Today, they have 200 experts giving ~2 million people/month ideas, advice and connections. The community is still growing – 100% year over year.
Roen points to three things that helped them succeed:
- Mission driven team: They’re shared goal is helping people succeed (not selling credit cards)
- Decentralized organization: People are empowered throughout the company to try different things
- Involved leadership: That’s what motivates employees. At a recent hackathon, C-level execs were looking at code with developer
Percolate: Social prompts for brands
Brier is often asked the same question by brand managers: What should I tweet? He said it’s a funny question from a company that can send cereal to any story in the world. But he realized that companies have no interests – at least not the ways that people do.
Percolate is a social tool for brand managers. Its algorithms – interests graphs – help prompt a brand on what to say, what to share.
The tools can only do so much. Brands need to really see themselves the way people do. People who work at the brands think the brand is boring. But people on the outside think its this amazing company – full of stories. Sometimes an outside voice can help you see what’s really there.