This is why you missed out on that Prime series your mates love...
by Kirsty Stevenson
The Echo Chamber – it’s brand-critical!
In the world of news media and content ‘echo chamber’ describes the situation where you only see or hear things you like and you start to believe that those are the only options out there, so you start missing out on fresh ideas or points of view that are different to your own.
We’re all guilty to some degree of preferring to watch, listen to or engage with ideas or information that we already know we like or agree with. It’s just easier that way, isn’t it? Sometimes I just I don’t want to spoil my day looking at ugly shoes or read views that I disagree with…
But it’s now a MASSIVE deal. And, conspiracy theories aside, its impact can be seen with complete clarity when you look back on 2016 with the many surprised reactions across the globe to the Brexit referendum result and Donald Trump’s US election win.
The influence of data
As data technology advances, we are either choosing, or are being presented with, more and more information that “fits” with our profiles and opinions at the expense of things that don’t. This reinforces our beliefs and we miss out on things that might inspire us to try something new, challenge us, update us or prompt us to ask more questions. Like that Amazon Prime series some of your mates are all over, but which you’ve never had an email about.
We end up missing the bigger picture that contains all the other ideas, information and opportunities that are out there, and we wake up surprised that we’re about to leave the EU and Trump is going to be president of the USA.
What does the echo chamber mean for businesses?
The most important things you can do as a business, on this front, are:
1. don’t get caught up in your own hype
2. don’t let your audiences miss out on something that they might love.
Actively look for what’s new and what’s happening in the lives of your target audiences. Are they maturing and are their views changing as a result? Are they getting wooed by something or someone new or different; or complaining about something that to you is insignificant, but to them is a dealbreaker?
How can a brand work smarter in an echo chamber-y world?
For your brands and the content you create, what does the echo chamber phenomenon mean? And on the basis that it’ll be around for a while, what should you be doing about it?
In terms of content marketing, you can definitely work with it, because it works in favour of customer retention. On the flip side, it poses challenges for customer recruitment.
Thanks to search engine technology, well designed, well written, well read and well tagged content can help you fall into the lap of people searching for things like those things you sell. Plan for the fact that search engines now offer you up to people who have searched for other things that identify them as falling into your target audience. Like where they are, or what they’ve clicked on in previous searches.
That means making sure that your website contains content that appeals to your target audiences for a variety of reasons, not just content about your products or services. Like lifestyle content that’s relevant to your brand, or how-to guides and videos that are authentic and relevant to your brand.
This example from Leeds Building Society shows how the brand is targeting a younger market with content relating to saving for a particular life stage, and how that search leads to a helpful article on their website that delivers solidly on their proposition of “Helping you get on with life.”
Creating content, whether it’s visual, written or audio, that appeals to your target audiences, and getting it to them – whether through social media or emailers – keeps you in mind and gives them reasons to think about you. And to choose you when the time comes.
Inside the echo chamber, this means that social media platforms will prioritise your content when it is relevant to the reader, and based on how much they tend to engage with you. So stay current with what’s important to your audiences and keep your personas up to date.
Learn about the content you produce that your targets engage most with – Is it competitions, advice articles, gorgeous photography, how to videos? Then apply what you learn to other content and promote it to reach new targets.
In trend driven industries, where the desire for something new is a key driver of growth, being the reliable friend that helps your audience see what’s coming next is a great basis for content. Opening your audience’s eyes to what’s outside that bubble can pay dividends. As Celia Burnett of Asos put it in a great article in Marketing Week…
Be there when beliefs and opinions are formed
Right at the start of the customer journey, before a person even knows they need you, there’s an opportunity to start helping them. To be first into the echo chamber.
Be helpful, entertaining, and create an affinity with your audience that you can build on. Become a trusted source of information. Provide balanced, helpful and entertaining experiences, articles, video and images, and opportunities to find out more and put them in the places you know the right people will come across them.
Here’s just one example of how we’ve helped Harrogate Spring Water reach new audiences through content – in this case using the wellness credentials of water to help reach Yoga fans on Facebook.
Breaking into the echo chamber
So how do you break into an already established echo chamber, what can you do to start engaging with audiences who are already bought into your competitor and how can you get in there to create switching opportunities?
Be in the places where the people you want to engage are and get recommended or noticed. These places will differ by audience – Twitter, Instagram, Trip advisor, Which?, Blog based influencers, Moneysavingexpert.com, on the street, at a big event, on YouTube – and express your brand’s personality through content which helps or entertains your audiences. Catch their imagination or help them find out something they want to know.
Bicester Village are doing this well with their Instagram activity, working with influencers to raise awareness and position the brand
Brand-led content that forms an active part of your customer journey can be a powerful part of your marketing. Thompson creates brand-led strategy and content that connect with your audiences.
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