When Facebook announced its news feed update a couple of weeks back, there was lots of talk about the demise of passive content.
We mulled over how the network was trying to put an end to clickbait videos and fatuous articles that add nothing to our lives. We debated whether the death of organic reach would also affect paid reach due to increased competition. And we sought to define what differentiates ‘active’ content from ‘passive’ content.
But amidst all of the discourse and pontification, there was something that most missed, or at least glossed over, in their rush to be seen to be the first to crack the new Facebook code. It was in the very phrasing that Mark Zuckerberg used to announce the changes. He said that Facebook was changing to “help you have more meaningful social interactions”.
So what does that mean exactly? Beneath the polished veneer of a statement from one of the world’s most powerful and influential business leaders, what Zuckerberg is saying is that too much of the content churned out by brands and media outlets today is vacuous.
And beyond that he’s saying that marketers have got it all wrong; that the vast majority of the content being pushed out into the world lacks any real value or significance.
On the face of it, it’s hard to argue with that.
What I’ve heard and read a lot since Facebook’s announcement is “so we need to get people to comment instead of Like, right?” No. No, no, no, no, no. Or to put it another way: no. See above about completely missing the point.
In a world where artificial intelligence is starting to tailor messages to specific individuals and voice recognition has improved to the extent that we will soon be having a proper dialogue with our devices, where’s the value in endless ‘funny’ videos of cats chasing lasers, yet another tedious flatlay or ever more motivational quotes?
If I get any more motivated I’ll explode!
It doesn’t matter whether people Like or comment on this sort of stuff; it’s inane. There’s that famous statistic by Eric Schmidt that we now create as much information in two days as we did from the dawn of man until 2003. And roughly half of that is mindless rubbish from brands. (OK, I made that bit up.)
So well beyond Facebook, being ‘meaningful’ is taking on a whole new, well, meaning for marketers and PR professionals. And it’s with this in mind that this year’s Digital Download Live event in London on 26th April is themed around the concept of Meaningful Communications and the technology surrounding it.
More on that another time, but suffice it to say that in 2018 being meaningful is about adding genuine value to people’s lives, not floating more crap down the Thames. It’s not about PR initiatives wrapped up as corporate social responsibility, it’s about finding ways to use technology to inform and help people; to engage people in order to solve their problems rather than simply to get them to click a Like button.
So here’s a big, big question for you that I challenge you to answer: what’s genuinely meaningful about your brand?