The key take-away for me at this week’s Marketing to Moms conference was about story-telling. Not story-telling by advertisers or PR people - not the campaigns and messages that are pushed out. I’m talking about the stories created by the millions of consumers on YouTube, Facebook and other social sites.
With the increasing amount of user-generated content online, one of the best things brands can do is sit back and take it all in. Then, after looking and listening, figure out how to choreograph the content that’s already out there into a meaningful brand dance – the kind of raucous dance you see at Greek and Jewish weddings.
Coca-Cola is doing it. One of the best, most compelling presentations at M2Moms was by Wendy Clark, SVP of Integrated Marketing at Coca-Cola, who held a can of Diet Coke in her hand from the start to the end of her presentation (maybe not surprising, but as Clark talked about authenticity and brand fans, that Coke can seemed to add even more street cred).
Clark talked about seeking opportunities for collaboration and co-creation, tapping into the people who are telling your story. And that doesn’t mean people have to be literally talking about your brand. More often than not, it’s going to be a story that gets at the essence of what your brand has to offer (healthy living or more family time, for example).
“We need to integrate consumer ideas into the way we’re going to the marketplace, and use digital as an enabler,” said Clark. She wasn’t talking about the usual consumer research or the traditionally linear process in developing campaigns. As she talked, she pulled up random search results for “Coke” on Google.
What are people finding when they search for your brand (or a related topic)? How can you contribute to the conversation? How can you “curate” what’s already there? “The shift has happened – advertising doesn’t seem to capture what we do any more. We spend a lot of time talking about community marketing,” Clark said. Marketers need to “be open to a model that bypasses traditional stages.”
Clark shared that her PR team is playing an active role in beating the social media drum at Coca-Cola. “Our PR team has been our best friend,” she said. At the core, I believe good PR people are about two things: story-telling + relationship-building. We’ve got “the right stuff” for this new social media world. Now, we just need to listen a little more to the stories already being told in order to help write the next chapter for the brands we work with and the communities they want to be part of.
While at M2Moms, I “curated” a panel of brands and bloggers who are working together. Kristin Brandt of Manic Mommies, who was on the panel, was kind enough to record the session and we’ll be posting the audio here next week. Meantime, you can scan some of the insights and soundbites from this week’s Marketing to Moms conference on Twitter, #m2moms.