One of the reasons that I enjoy blogging and digital content creation is that it combines a lot of the different traits that make me who I am, namely, a logical sense of analyzing what works, an appreciation for creativity and good content, and a a willingness to try new things.
But there’s definitely a trend emerging as more and more brands start becoming “media shops” and creating content to distribute, hoping customers consume it.
Everyone wants the content they create to produce results for their businesses. (And can you blame them? If you work in business, you should get that concept pretty readily). However, this puts a rather large emphasis on analyzing performance, which includes tracking metrics like clicks to the links you share, time spent reading and/or watching (“views” is another similar metric), or even total number of shares. Not to mention SEO optimization of things like headlines and paragraph structure.
That’s all well and good, but there’s a big ingredient missing when all you do is focus on the data-driven side of the business of content, and that’s creativity.
“COVER BANDS DON’T CHANGE THE WORLD” - Todd Henry, Accidental Creative
Here’s a quick story to illustrate what I mean: for awhile, there was only one person creating content at my company, Dailybreak (back then it was called CampusLIVE).
His name was me.
As you can imagine, that put me under the microscope around the company, and it also gave me an unusual amount of creative freedom. However, I felt that freedom slipping away when faced with things like deadlines and goals for number of Challenges (our content unit) launched per day or per week.
It’s only natural after all - I wanted results, so I fell into a trap of creating what seemed to work. It was easy to try and get by rather than try and innovative and be creatively insightful or innovative.
Rather than flexing my creative muscle (however large or small those muscles are in my mind), I found myself trying to take a formulaic or templated approach to everything I did. I thought, “THAT worked, so maybe I should replicate that a ton to keep my numbers strong.”
IF YOU DON’T TAKE RISKS AND TELL YOUR STORY, YOU’RE JUST NOISE
The problem with the above mentality is that it discouraged risk-taking and never let me really explore new things that could have really helped create a great user experience with even better numbers for our business longer term. (And, conversely, that lack of risk-taking also stemmed the amount of learning I created for myself. Playing it safe meant never finding out what would and wouldn’t work in the future.)
So, while I don’t have the answer, I have to ask — is creativity the least-used weapon in a creative team’s arsenal these days? Are content marketers favoring SEO and transactional tactics over being remarkable in their creation?
When faced with the growing world of data, analytics and marketing demands, do people favor data and hard metrics just because that’s what their boss might like or expect?
Again, I don’t have the answers. I just really hope and pray that everyone involved in media everywhere still values the creative process.
Because creating good quality content, at least today, is not yet a product of data alone. It still requires an appreciation of the beautiful, remarkable, and humanity’s emotional experience of the world.
Do you find the above trend to be true? Why or why not? Leave a comment. Oh, and you should follow me on Twitter!