This is a challenge. This is a call to action.
This is a chance to see who at the top is punching a clock, and who gives a damn.
Who is doing just enough to make the bosses happy, and who is at their desk, doing what they do, for a chance to change the whole damn world.
Every day, all over the world, the “publish” button is pushed billions of times. On blog posts, news stories, articles, tweets, posts, social stories, and email campaigns.
Twitter alone sees 500 million new tweets a day. 6,000 a second. You see a fraction of them, maybe one or two stand out.
300 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Every minute of it is someone trying to tell you something while getting paid in ad revenue for telling it to you.
For every news story from a reputable source, thousands of other publications scrape the content, reword the title, and sort of link back to the source. Every single shred of content is created to be seen by an audience. A million brands trying to define their position in the market with a listicle.
There are 7.5 billion people in the world, maybe 6 billion of those are interested in viewing content of any sort. Every user is shown an algorithmic-ally unique mix of feeds to fill their screens with content that keeps them interested. Most of us have no idea why we are shown what they’re shown or what we are supposed to do with it.
But we’ll keep watching, reading, clicking, liking.
At the other end of the equation are companies with marketing teams staffed by dozens with budgets in the millions. They make content the way generals plan campaigns: leveraging strengths, exposing weaknesses, staying on target until the competition gives in. It all gets signed of by a review board who is thinking three seasons ahead.
Meanwhile, a blogger in a country you forgot existed is publishing a post about a collection of truck parts he’d like to sell off. A mother with a cell-phone has the camera turned on herself to show you all the reasons you should buy certain beauty products. If you click now, she can show you how you can make your own business selling the same products.
Every day content is uploaded in the scale of billions. It all is produced, promoted, viewed, and forgotten all within an ever shrinking window. Content has become a game of scale - produce more, faster, at improved quality to try to manipulate both the whims of a recommendation engine and the folly of the customer. Content creators fight to pull away fractions of seconds from one another, hoping the second will turn into a minute, which can turn into a sale or an ad impression.
This is how we’ve told ourselves we can win. Steal attention, win a sale, live on to sell another day.
This isn’t another call against social media - social platforms are easy to blame, and it is somewhat their fault. However, we don't get mad at the post office when they leave junk mail in the box - we get upset at the people who use the post office ot send us junk.
Marketing tries to gain customers by showing them how an external product or service either brings pleasure or resolves pain. This principle will never change.
Content For The Greater Good works to bring the experience of pleasure or resolution of pain from within. You may know it as the flushed feeling after someone delivers a rousing speech, or when you watch the perfect movie with a pristine ending, or when you listen to a musician deliver the right lyric to the right rhythm at the right volume.
The psychology behind it is complex - all you know is how you never forget these experiences. You never WANT to forget them.
Those tasked - professionally, personally - with creating content are perfectly positioned to deliver on this experience if they decide to. However, content producers are so wrapped up in chasing an ROI, it feels like most of them have forgotten to deliver on the experience the audience signed up for. The audience hasn’t experienced the good in such a long time, I’m betting most of them have forgotten it was a feeling they could have at all.
The irony: there is less work to keep an audience you can deliver the positive experience to. Those who feel the flush or hear the right lyric tend to go back to the feeling on their own. The door is open, the foundation is set, the opportunity remains. Every time they engage with the content producer after the first good feeling, they’ll feel it again and again.
I think it’s time to shift the mindset - to go from making content that competes for attention or desperately coerces sales and think about how to make content for the greater good.
Content for the Greater Good:
Sells customers on the brand philosophy long before the product
Inspires action from the audience
Inspires people to make the best choice