This is an installment in the Content Marketing 101 series.
Creating stellar content for your marketing is great. But great content doesn’t (quite) distribute itself. It needs vehicles for people to pass it along, discuss its merits, argue over its controversies, blog it, mash it, tweet it and even scrape it. Which is, of course, where social media comes in.
Social media didn’t create content marketing, but it’s an unsurpassed tool for getting it distributed. On the flip side, great content gives social media life, by giving people something more interesting to talk about than what they’re ordering right now at Starbucks.
Social media is the third tribe’s sacred hearth
The third tribe—the new breed of smart, savvy online entrepreneurs—are creatures of the social web. Gathering points like forums, Twitter and Facebook are the campfires that pull the tribe together. Some of us have been convening around digital campfires for a long time. (I found my first in 1989, before the invention of the World Wide Web.)
Social media has grown so explosively because connection is probably the deepest drive we have. The campfire gives us a place to share information about the day’s hunt, a forum to air out the tribe’s differences, even a place for us to consider new and better ways to build campfires.
No, it’s not a utopian picture. Our campfires are places for bickering and malice as much as for inspiration and community. But without a connecting place, without a central spot to bring us together for conversation, there is no tribe.
Our gathering places are never perfect. They’re human. Which is what makes them so extraordinary.
Great content is the third tribe’s saga and story
It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the Yanomamo in the Amazon rainforest or friends at a barbecue in Teaneck, New Jersey. Anywhere people gather around fires, they’re going to tell stories.
It’s in the nature of the human animal to play with language, to create fables and songs and nonsense to entertain ourselves with. And it’s in our nature to make beautiful objects and embellish anything that will stand still long enough.
These instincts are alive today in great writing and imagery being shared all over the Web. The impulses that make us reweet a blog post or a fantastic Flickr image are the same ones that bring a superb Navajo weaver renown across four states.
Wonderful words and beautiful images capture our attention, no matter who we are or what technology we might have at our disposal. Our impulse to create, and our desire to remark on skillful creations, haven’t changed much since we started walking upright.
The third tribe is on the move
In addition to our passion for connection, the other remarkable human trait is adaptability.
No other animal can adapt to as many different ecosystems and environments as we can. We’ve built dwellings in Antarctica and in space. We’ve survived the Ice Age and world wars, tsunamis and earthquakes, and even Joan Rivers winning Celebrity Apprentice.
When the environment is stable, we get complacent. We settle into calm, self-satisfied habits for thousands of years at a time.
But when the earth starts to shake, we wake up again: the same smart, watchful, inventive and dangerous monkey we’ve always been at heart.
I’ve heard the current economic meltdown described as “economic climate change,” which I like a lot. We don’t know where it’s going to get unbearably hot and where the temperature will plunge to permafrost. The system is too complex to predict, except we know it’s going to change and it’s likely to change fast.
But some things won’t change. If we can sing a remarkable song, others will gather to hear it. And now, digital campfires connect us from Kuala Lumpur to Iceland to Dallas.
If I create content that’s worthy of attention, the world will show up and talk about it. I don’t know how they’ll show up in 5 years (or 5 months), but I know they will.
My job is to make something amazing, then use the global network of digital campfires intelligently to find the people who will love and appreciate it.
How about you? What songs and legends are you bringing to your campfire?