Bruce Weindruch, CEO and Founder of The History Factory

It takes a staggering 17 billion Facebook posts, 200 million tweets a day and 42 million user-generated Yelp reviews to fuel today’s social media engine. This frenzy of public opinion is certainly a noisemaker for C-suite strategists, and in our view, reopens the content phenomenon debate in a new world—with new rules.

To understand our perspective, take a brief journey with us back to a tipping point for social media in business: 2008. When the economy tanked, everyone’s faith in their institutions was shattered in a split second. Social media emerged as a way of healing and reconnecting. Brands had to build trust. Industries had to reinvent themselves.

At The History Factory, we saw an immediate shift in storytelling and took a front-row seat. After all, how can content build faith, trust and confidence if it isn’t grounded in heritage? If it isn’t your story? Our founding premise, Start with the Future and Work Back™, found renewed relevance as corporations grew, differentiated themselves and rebuilt their reputations with our help. And most importantly, perhaps, our experience with content was a fundamental part of that success.

The pressure to churn out more and more content in this digital age is palpable. But if you’re only thinking as far as your tagline, beware: If your content isn’t rich, broad and deep, your customers will call you on it. Recently, a New York Times article highlighted a confused reader’s observation that a new Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercial hints at a story behind the silver-colored packaging, but the ad never reveals any actual connection to silver.

“I’m vaguely annoyed by the non-story,” the reader writes. “What gives?”

Good question. And while the marketing teams and brand agencies scrambled to recall the basis of their creative genius, the 200-million-tweets-a-day social media engine was already casting its own opinions, one person at a time.

The campaign would have been greatly enhanced if it had mentioned that the packaging is a nod to the origin of mass-produced cream cheese. In 1880, A.L. Reynolds reportedly wrapped the newly named Philadelphia Cream Cheese in foil to preserve moisture and freshness.

In the 1950s, Bill Bernbach’s insight and famous quote forewarned that nothing kills bad product faster than good advertising. Today, you are the product. Your company’s reputation is the product. And as we’ve seen, nothing kills bad content faster than social media.

You see, our experience tells us that today’s content debate shouldn’t just be about creating content that is sharable and entertaining. It needs to be focused, strategic content that is authentically yours. Why? Because gaps or errors cause your customers to quickly question their faith in your brand—and expose you to the real risk of a competitor or new entrant stealing your product or embracing a more compelling positioning.

And if in a moment of complacency you don’t own it, they might.

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