Activism sells. Feminism is trendy.
“Many will see this as a product of our current political situation, but the desire to see higher value elements in the products and services we buy runs deeper than a response to Trump alone. The president is unwittingly accelerating a trend that was already underway: as digital breaks down traditional silos, the public, private, and social sectors are merging.” — Caleb Gardner
The reality is that these walls have been slowly crumbling. But, the election — or more pointedly, the inauguration — of Donald Trump has caused a tectonic shift.
This isn’t a coastal thing. Or a super liberal echo chamber thing. It’s dominating conversations and spurring action from coast to coast. Coast. To. Coast. (Yes, that even includes the middle of the country). It’s shifting consumers‘ buying habits.
Consumers are clamoring for hope, inclusivity, stability, community and connectivity — and forward-thinking brands are responding.
During the Oscars, five brands were capitalized on current events, bordering on pointedly political, with their advertisements. GE focused on getting more women into engineering; Audible’s ad featured a quote from the book 1984, which has climbed back to the top of the book charts since Inauguration Day; and The New York Times highlighted the importance of journalism in reporting truth.
During the Super Bowl, an AirBnB ad focused on inclusivity and supporting refugees, plus AirBnb promised housing to 100,000 refugees. Walking the walk and talking the talk. Budweiser also used the Super Bowl to highlight immigration — their founders’ stories.
While the ad industry is sometimes slow to innovate, this is one example where they moved quickly to update messaging with timely, powerful content. But, this kind of creative, contextually aware content shouldn’t be limited to commercials during major live events.
Content marketers for brands of any size have an opportunity to improve performance by incorporating more timely, relevant content. It’s an oversimplification, but content marketing is falling in one of two buckets:
- Carefully constructed, sanitized content. This is what most brands are doing. Social channels are littered with safe posts about products and services. Maybe they’re sharing articles, quotes or memes. Content may be aspirational, but it’s mostly shallow — staying far away from what audiences are craving, given the tone and climate.
- Contextually aware content. This is the real opportunity for brands. Current news cycles are dominated by tension, fear, and hate — leaving people striving for inclusivity, community, hope, unity. As we’ve seen with Super Bowl and Oscars commercials, hopeful, inclusive messaging like this is resonating big time with audiences. Now, it’s time to incorporate these messages across channels, not just limiting it to splashy TV ads.
As social media marketers, we know that content marketing is stronger and will generate better results when you provide information people are seeking. That’s the value of contextually aware content. When done well — and when it’s genuine and authentic to your brand — it will spur engagement, improve sentiment, and strengthen brand positioning. When these metrics are improving, it becomes far easier to connect social media to leads, sales and other critical “bottom line” metrics.
A true activist movement is emerging, galvanizing people across geography, race, and class. Brand activism is one part of this shift. At Geben, we’re helping brands seize the opportunity to deploy meaningful and relevant messages. Altruistic? Sure. But, this isn’t just about altruism. Whether you’re ready to go all in as an “activist brand,” or want to test a few contextually aware content marketing campaigns, “do well by doing good” is a smart business decision.