“Just because content is cool doesn’t mean it’s innovative.” These wise words kicked off a Content Marketing World session led by the one and only Ann Handley, Queen of content marketing and Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs. Her session went on to emphasize that content marketing is a balancing act between utility, enjoyment, and inspiration. In fact, according to Handley, you can’t have innovation without a combination of all three.
But before everyone in the audience could spend too much time scrambling for ideas of content that actually is innovative, Handley went on to provide a few examples of recent projects that have caught her attention. Since these two pieces of content have received the coveted Content Marketing World seal of approval, it’s probably worth taking a closer look.
Toronto Silent Film Festival
The Toronto Silent Film Festival wanted to promote their event by creating content that would take them back to their roots, but they also had a wealth of modern technologies at their disposal that would allow them to modernize traditional silent films. With the surge in use of social imaging platforms like Instagram, they decided to create the “World’s First Instagram Film Experience.”
By looking at one of the Toronto Silent Film Festival’s three Instagram profiles and switching the photo display to “slideshow,” their followers could scroll through a series of black and white images in quick succession, giving them the impression that they were watching a scene from a silent movie.
Handley was a huge fan of this project, and it’s easy to see why. This is content that is new, fun, and very clearly innovative. As she moved on to her next example, her message was clear: to create something truly innovative, content marketers should be pushing past the boundaries of what they previously thought possible.
The First World Problems Anthem
At the mention of this next project, the First World Problems Anthem, many members of Handley’s audience found themselves nodding in approval. Here was a content effort that had quickly created waves by taking a commonly used (and abused) hashtag, #firstworldproblems, and turning it into something else entirely: a campaign for clean water in impoverished countries.
The nonprofit Water Is Life traveled to Haiti to video children and adults reading the Tweets that normally accompanied the #Firstworldproblems hashtag. This drew attention to the outrageous, griping nature of the Tweets posted by first world citizens while simultaneously promoting and raising money to provide clean drinking water in countries like Haiti and India. They called their project the first ever "Hashtag Killer."
Handley used this project to inspire her audience to create content that is not only innovative, but also impactful. After Water Is Life launched their campaign against the hashtag, they quickly began to see a change in the types of tweets that were being associated with the #firstworldproblems hashtag — not to mention the substantial amount of clean water they were able to provide to those in need. Talk about an impactful campaign!
These are excellent examples of what can be accomplished by content marketers when they put their minds to good use. While we may not be able to produce projects that feed children in third-world countries, or turn our content into silent films, we can challenge ourselves to go beyond good content to truly great content. And I’m willing to bet that after attending Content Marketing World 2013, content marketers intend to do just that.