How does content become relevant content?
“Content is king” has been the maxim of online marketing since Bill Gates’ 1996 essay with the same title. We are flying the flag for this king by asking what will make virtual events attractive in the future.
Echo, echo, echo, …
When it comes to digitisation, I often find it very refreshing to take a look back in time: “The Internet is the multimedia equivalent of the photocopier.” Bill Gates, 1996.
In the days of photocopying, a lot of ink was spent on duplicating content. Of course, this is no longer necessary. The volume of online data doubles every two years (golem.de). This proliferation of content is something that we all come up against every day.
In order to stand out from the crowd, we can agree with Bill Gates’ prediction that “content is king”. More than this, we have to ask: What actually constitutes content? What makes good content stand out? And more specifically, while wearing your Live DMA hat: What significance does content currently have for virtual events?
The medium is NOT the message
The value of a virtual event does not lie in the medium in which it is packaged. No matter how badly an event is produced, if the content is relevant, participants will be spellbound. Naturally, the basics have to be right. In the case of a virtual event, the sound and image must reliably reach the recipient. Once this prerequisite has been fulfilled, the recipient is captivated first and foremost by relevance, not by fancy software or expensive cameras.
We are naturally happy to sell such paraphernalia to our customers. However, the reason I am so clearly pointing out the relevance of the content is because we are living at a time when vast numbers of people can now be reached through the new medium of virtual events. And whenever a new medium becomes big, one of the teething problems is that the medium itself is taken to be the solution for communicative tasks.
However, the digitisation of events does not solve the question of their relevance. Before the question “How do we communicate?” comes the question “What are we communicating?” And prior to this, “For whom are we communicating?” And finally, “Why are we communicating?”
By asking these questions, we incrementally move further away from our egocentric view. Away from what we find important. Away from what matters to us most, towards those we want to reach. Towards whatever these people find important, what matters to them. Content becomes relevant content. In the gap between what we want to say and what others find genuinely important a tension arises. It is here that we as an agency like to develop a story.
The quality of content is thus a matter of the order in which it arises: first the story, then the medium. Only when a story outline already exists is the reverse recommended:
The medium IS the message
When you have a clear vision of the content in mind, the next step is content design. When approached in that order, design means much more than pretty slides. It’s about the creation of the entire format, the process, setup, camera work, rhetoric, screen, microsite, and so on. Design means the sensory translation of a message: a powerful vehicle that really gives a simple message a boost.
Virtual events open up many new, wonderful possibilities that can be creatively included and combined. For example:
- a digital welcome lounge as a hospitality tool
- dynamic dramaturgy from a live stream and pre-produced content
- a classic static stage or live spots “on the road”.
- a keynote speech with audience interaction (surveys, votes, quizzes, etc.)
- live guests in a workshop with online participants
- immersive event trips in brand worlds rendered in 3D.
Every event offers its own challenges and I am really excited about the possibilities that we can incorporate thanks to the digitisation of the industry. At Live Lab, we have been greatly pushing content and design as in-house competencies since the pandemic. Because we believe that the perfect symbiosis of what and how something is said leads to maximum impact on target groups.
Outlook: personal content streaming
In my opinion, the topic of relevance will become even more important in the future. The internet inundates us with content and nobody feels like looking for a needle in the haystack. Accordingly, it will become increasingly important to place the recipient in the spotlight, not merely asking what content is relevant for him/her, but also asking when this content should be transmitted. Not all content is interesting at all times. Time also has an impact on relevance.
I would like to fly a flag for a change of perspective in future, to think less from our own point of view and not to senselessly bombard our counterparts with content. The goal must be to give them exactly the right dose of relevant content at the right time. A personal content stream that does not thunder down on our customers like a waterfall, but is served as a refreshing cocktail on the trip. So the content king can live up to his name.
Sources: Bill Gates article “content is king”