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We are all publishers now, but why?

Now we are all publishers, (after we all became consumers), and now that (nearly) everything published is free, and that a lot of it has an agenda other than the content that constitutes it, and that much of it is not very good, where are the critics?

I’m continually reading articles about content marketing, “creating great content”, engaging your customers with gripping stories and articles, and generally how “content is the new advertising”.

It is true that much of the world is wise to traditional advertising- we block ads out both physically and mentally, and we now choose our media and our content, so we don’t have to be at the mercy of the advertiser.

So the dilemma of how to gain new customers and keep your old ones drives sales and marketing folk to examine the world around them a bit more.

The ads that do still work, that people take notice of, are the touching, compelling gripping, funny ones that are more like short films with product placement- as I read somewhere or other recently, no-one really cares about companies or brands, but they like to be associated with other people like themselves, and they like to be reminded about what they like. So if the story is good, and the product is modestly presented, the consumer will appreciate it all the more.

The content that people like is often that which diverts us, or that which provokes us.

Videos of cats, virals about political cheats and social bullies, self improvement and inspirational messages, these are what the marketing divisions are concerned with recreating.

The basis of marketing, as a profession, is lack of originality. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, but it is generally the case- effective marketing taps into what is already there, mimics something popular or familiar, or disguises itself as something with real depth or metaphysical meaning.

Thats nothing new- just watch early episodes of Mad Men. But it may be that as marketers see “great content” as the medium, rather than the message, and the ads are not in their frames or popups or sections, but in the big swirling mess of “facts”, “opinions”, “news”, and everything else, under the heading of Published Content, should we be thinking about new ways of separating the wheat from the chaff?

The danger with talking about critics is of course that as all of this is presented to us/ thrown at us, we all have to be critics. The nonsense and deceit and the truth and the inspiration in the world (and we all see things in different ways) provoke the opinions and the judgements (and in those, the hatred and the bile and the language of violence, and the enthusiasm and the expressions of joy and hope) that the internet is awash with.

So before long, we realise resistance is useless. At some point, there’s just one comment we completely, totally agree with, one ridiculous post we cannot ignore, and we leap in, doing what we vowed we’d never do, and say OMG I LOVE THIS or THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS YOU FOOL, and lo we are part of the growing tribe of commentators and critics.

So we can now all play the content game. We are all publishers, we can all be critics, but we need to start becoming as sophisticated about “great content” as we are about ads- it should after all be easy to spot- they may be able to spin a good yarn, but marketing people aren’t known for being all that bright when it comes to proposing theories or arguing, and often they can’t spell, either.

(If you’d like me to come up with a good story for your brand, or an infomercial for your company, I’m your man- and remember to visit my website at www.geckoclick.com to find out more about what I can offer you. Did you see what I did there?)

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