Following a year when Coke could be found re-branded as ‘Love’ itself – all part of the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign where consumers (literally) became the brand’s name – there’s only one direction our day to day content is going. It’s become more subtle than anybody thought it could and as a result, exposed pure sales messaging as functional and sometimes even crude. There’s no avoiding it, and as the public become ever more discerning with their brands and services, we see this as a defining characteristic of those brands that will continue to operate and dominate in 2015 and beyond. That’s right, the third of our series on Social Media Trends for 2015 is Lifestyle Content.

Throughout this series we hope to highlight the practices, techniques and platforms that we see taking off throughout the year – each of them another rung on the ever-evolving ladder of social media innovation.

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3) Lifestyle content

Content is fast becoming an overused word. Images, video, infographics, copy, blog posts, Prezis, live streams, and – thanks to a certain global recreational brand – even motion pictures. All of these and more come under the vast umbrella that is content. And traditionally speaking, all content developed to help with a brand’s marketing focussed on the sell. The unique selling point. The key differentiator between itself and its competitors. Highlight the USP and stand out, these were the main objectives. And social media didn’t change this overnight – those social networks which have reached a size that requires long-term income generation have themselves turned to advertising as its chief means of revenue. The targeting available about their users makes it an attractive proposition. But in addition to the ability to target highly specific audiences with sales messaging social media has paved the way for the idea of the brand as a persona. An entity all of its own with its own way of talking, its own idiosyncrasies, its own distinctive personality. A fully fledged 3D personality able to interact with those around it without limitation.

This idea of interaction brings additional emphasis to the need for brands to be ‘likeable’. Presenting a good corporate reputation is no longer enough. An organised CSR programme doesn’t mean perceptions are inherently good. In fact, as with fact-to-face relationships, direct interaction between brands and consumers really means that first impressions count for much more than ever before. If you want consumers to leave the conversation with a good impression, every part of the interaction needs to be one that resonates. Whether it’s the introduction, the opening gambit, or the wrap-up. Tone is crucial and the ability for your audience to sympathise is a must.

Lifestyle content is content designed around the personality of the brand. Content which focusses away from the product and makes no effort to sell. Content which explicitly taps in to observations of the ‘every day’. That’s not to say that benefits and USPs can’t be referenced, but only ever as a secondary subtext – the truth of the piece should focus on brand values and the assertion that the brand understands its role in life and the challenges and experiences of its audience. Ultimately, selling the lifestyle rather than the product.

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