Why vanilla is the worst flavor of marketing

I have a friend who recently wrote a blog post for the agency she works for. It was a great post: well written, included graphics she made herself, was helpful and offered takeaways, and had a title just interesting enough to garner clicks without being click bait. Then, the CEO had her take it down. “It might give the wrong impression.” (It didn’t.)

Vanilla is the worst flavor of marketing-title image

Vanilla is the worst flavor of marketing

Maybe you love vanilla ice cream, or vanilla pudding, but no one likes vanilla content. To make an impact among the overly crowded digital marketing space, you need to do something to stand out. You have to take a position. You must offer helpful information while not turning your content into a snooze-fest lecture. With the concept of Content Shock looming over all of us marketers, you have to write something worth reading.

Maybe try chocolate instead

Embrace a deep, rich, and possibly darker side of content. Piss someone off, start an argument, take a stand. But be willing to back up your argument with informed points and a reasoned point-of-view. Don’t just troll the world. In Jay Baer’s “Jay Today” video series, he goes on some pretty serious rants—calling marketing and service mediocrity where he sees it. Some people may disagree with him on some points, and that’s ok. His definitive, and sometimes angry, perspective is visceral and real. People remember it and share it if they relate to it. Do you have a viewpoint in opposition to the status quo? Talk about it! I did in this guest post, and things got pretty hairy, but I stood by my points and even helped some people in the process.

Vanilla marketing click to tweet image
Click the image to share this post

Don’t forget the savory bits

My choice would be salted caramel, but you do you. Ahem, I digress. Give people definitive takeaways and sharable tidbits in your content that they just can’t help but share with their friends and followers. For example, provide a click-to-tweet takeaway image (like above) that makes sharing those points seamless (something else Jay Baer does really well with his Social Pros podcasts). Try putting some key takeaways in bullet points to visually sum up what the reader should get out of a post. Before you hit publish, seriously ask yourself, “What exactly will someone reading this post/article/blog get out of it?” If the answer isn’t clear, fix it.

What’s better than regular ice cream? A sundae.

Don’t be afraid to mix up your content. Slap on some toppings, mix up some flavors, and create a tantalizing piece of content people can’t help but share. Here are some examples of how you can incorporate different media to see what resonates with different audiences.

  • Embed a slideshare in a blog post to reinforce the points you’re making.
  • Record a video clip to break down a complicated concept rather than writing a long-form post.
  • Try embedding tweets surrounding a hot topic you’re discussing to show its relevancy and highlight important points-of-view.

Your content has to have some character, something uniquely you. There are likely other posts in the world on the same topic you’re writing about, so what makes yours different?

Admit it, you totally want some ice cream now, don’t you? Sorry about that.

Now go get your social on!

The Social Gnome’s Hoard

Welcome to the Social Gnome’s Hoard, a collection of this week’s most interesting finds from the Social Gnome’s internet travels.

Week of July 19, 2012 (“Get to know our customers” Day. Find out something new about those who keep you in business.)

Social Gnome hoard image

  • This could be a game changer for this year’s election. USA Today reports that the state of Washington will be the first state to allow voters to register via Facebook. If ever there was a way to make registering to vote more accessible to the general public, this is the way to do it. Facebook users will be able to register to vote through an app on the secretary of state’s Facebook page, and they’ll even be able to share the app on their timeline for friends to see. This is going to be the new ‘I voted’ sticker for the digital age. Kudos to the state of Washington for taking the initiative on this and force feeding democracy on those too busy to register to vote because they’re clicking ‘Like’ on the latest meme.
  • I. Love. Lists. I use lists for everything. I use Evernote to organize lists of blog ideas. I use the notepad function on my iPhone to make lists of movies to see or places around Austin to check out. When I saw this headline on Twitter, I got uber excited. Lifehacker provides the Five Best To-Do List Managers apps. I will be checking these out myself to see which works the best for me, but the prospect of using some the listed features to organize my many to-dos has me tingling with delight. What? I like lists…
  • Jay Baer offers up a really interesting post discussing the difference between Social Media Influencers and Brand Advocates. He makes some very interesting points both in how each can be useful in their own way, and how very different they can be from each other. For those of you who prefer a more visual approach, the post includes a great infographic. For those of you who have a little bit of a nerdy streak, there’s even a dig at Aquaman. Who doesn’t love a good dig at Aquaman? I’d also like to take this moment to thank Jay for introducing me to Curate.Us, which allows me to quickly clip visual snippets from sources and place them in my blog posts as you see here. It’s such a useful tool.
  • As long as Stumbleupon.com continues to find me crazy weird things like this, things I would have never found  on my own, I will continue to let it eat up valuable resources from my time. (It is a great way to stay occupied on the bus ride home from work though.) Since I found this on Stumbleupon, and there really aren’t any other links or info on the page, I can’t tell you much about who made it or where it came from. You may find yourself fiddling around with it regardless. Who doesn’t love taking 15 seconds to drag the mouse and create unique melodies? I submit that there are very few people on that list.
  • Here’s an really interesting dynamic chart following the changes in how we consume music over that last 30 years. It’s really interesting to simply watch the trends from one technology to the next. I’d love to see the jump in just the two years after the chart stops. Once again, I found this on Stumbleupon, so I don’t know who exactly created it or where they are pulling their data from, but it appears relatively accurate, or at least it makes sense. From the web address, it appears to be coming from digitalmusicnews.com.
  • Lastly, Stanford of Pushing Social shares an interesting analogy with regards to why you may not be getting the interaction you want or hope for in your blog. It seems a pretty simple concept that he discusses, but one that still so few seem to grasp in this digital world of “look at me, look at me!” Stanford always writes great stuff and is quickly becoming one of my favorite go-to people for blogging advice. Pushing Social is worth following for bloggers of any caliber to find quick, to-the-point advice that you can put to use. This one is a quick read, and worth checking to make sure you’re not THAT guy that he points out in the post.
  • Last minute addition to wrench your heart a bit. Thursday night, at the midnight premiere of the Dark Knight Rises, a man in a gas mask wearing all black decided to throw tear gas and open fire into the crowd. At the time of writing this, 12 are dead and many more wounded, some of them being children. I simply don’t understand it. 24-year old James Holmes has not given a motive yet, but that doesn’t matter. People were excited about a movie and he ruined their lives. Unbelievable.
So there you are. Another weeks’ worth of noteworthy, interesting or just funny content to keep you in the know. Did I miss anything great that you came across? What do you think about the ability to register to vote on Facebook? Would you like to see more social integration into important parts of our society as we know it?  Are you a list-maker yourself, and do you already use any of the apps Lifehacker spotlights? Weigh in below with your comments.

Now go get your social on!

Follow this blog on your mobile device with Google Currents! Go to the app store and download Google Currents for your iPhone or Android and subscribe to Robzie Social HERE!