It is easy to understand why many are gravitating to the idea of a “post truth era.”
2016 put a blinding spotlight on ‘fake news’ and revealed how influential social news can be in creating perception. More amazing was seeing how algorithms designed to show us things we’re most interested in can (unintentionally) create echo chambers where ‘news’ is often posted with no context or journalistic integrity.
This should remind brands of the power of belief, and perhaps more importantly, the innate desire we all have to believe in something; even better when that belief can be confirmed and validated. It should also remind us that we all crave a story, and if we don’t actually read the story, we are very good at using what we believe to ‘fill in the gaps’. Sometimes very creatively.
Because of this, the idea of “post-truth” should also remind us as marketers that there is no singular truth, there is only the perception of what is true. And that is as fluid and dynamic as it can be.
In an article titled Forget 2017 predictions – What have we learned in 2016?, Tom Goodwin shared a collection of learnings from a pool of smart marketers. Among them was a notable observation from William Humphrey, “Now, more than ever in our world, we are advertising the PR as opposed to PRing the advertising.” And he’s right. After all, sponsored content and native ads can be some of the most effective ways to amplify a brand without doing so much branding.
What are the takeaways for marketers crafting brand stories in the “post truth era”?
1. Discover The Story: Abandon the rational and figure out what is exciting, compelling, attention-glomming. For example, look for creative ways to uncover nuggets in customer testimonials and remix them into narratives that are relatable, moving and inspiring. It’s a given that testimonials will reveal how a brand’s products and services contributed to a customer’s success so get even deeper and look for a different angle – it will likely be something emotional and personal. And therefore, memorable and re-tellable.
2. Use The Story To Create Action: A story doesn’t have to be written or filmed. But it needs to drive an outcome that moves customers closer to the brand. Marketers need to concretely understand how they want people feel and think, and what they want customers to do. Consider creating a story that “asks” rather than “tells.” Use inputs and interactivity to allow customers to participate in the story in a way that leads them to more stories and more actions. And leverage that interactivity to record valuable customer data that can be applied for the benefit of future brand experiences.
3. Authentically Represent Brand Values: Be sure that the entire experience is reflective of what the brand believes. At the conclusion of the U.S. Presidential election, Kellogg’s and other advertisers pulled their ads from conservative website Breitbart as the sites provocative topics and opinions went against the character of their brand. Your story is as much about where and when it is experienced, as the experience itself.
So whether a “post truth era” is or becomes an idea of momentum and importance, its presence is being felt and its opportunities are being noticed.
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