The Problem with Advertising That Facebook Can’t Fix

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Mass media has trained marketers in the art of the Unique Selling Proposition (USP). In a nutshell: 1) State your difference in a way that resonates the needs of your target. 2) Buy mental spectrum by the ton. 3) Repeat endlessly.

USP is to an era of mass media as point of view (POV) will be to the social media age. This is a big change and one worth pondering. Let me explain.

You are officially fully mediated. North Americans spend half of their waking lives in front of media. From elevators networks to social networks to gaming to ecommerce to plain old content, suddenly we have some 5000 opportunities to intersect the consumer each and every day. More media comes with more choice and control, both of which make it harder to get a human to engage. Targeting makes the equation work a bit better, but it never solves the overload problem for the brand marketer.

The shame of our industry. So as an industry we collectively scratch our heads for 10 years, embarrassed by the de facto currency of our new media world, the banner. We wanted to "join the conversation," but we were not quite sure what that meant. And when we tried, no one wanted to talk to us.

Along came social. But social is not a strategy. Social is just media. Media needs to be fed. It’s hungrier now than ever. So we tried banners in social - which was ok for some limited set of objectives. The challenge of the social world, of the fully mediated world, is really a content problem. We have the wiring. Now we need something to say.

The trouble with content. There’s a huge difference between the good stuff and the average stuff. The world is full of crappy content. At the heart of great content is POV. It’s what you believe. It’s opinion. It’s passion. It’s the special thing that connects people and communities. Remember, social is inherently personal. Content needs to fit the times.

Great brands understand POV. So the real issue for the modern marketer is how you become an attraction brand. How do you become someone people want to listen to. You do it by having a believable, resonant POV that overlaps with your community and fits the cultural context.

Smart upstarts build it in from the core. Brands like Toms shoes. People listen to Toms. People listen to Patagonia too. Smart marketers like IBM have done it for a long time. Their latest Think Exhibit at the Lincoln Center show how the smart application of data and tech makes cities more livable. Chipotle is doing it for food. P&G is doing it for moms. Dove is doing it for beauty. Even GoDaddy does it for dudes. Nike does it all the time.

When you get it right, your content strategy will unfold naturally.

What's a modern marketer to do? Think about what its going take to carve out your place in the “network.” Start the meeting with the question: What is our point of view? Understand out how that fits in with your community. And realize it means that people may not always agree with you. Find media partners that can help fill in the lines.

In short, reinvent your brief around POV. Only then can you start to realize the potential of content.

Who is flexing their POV? Tell us - or tweet to #SAYPOV.

Troy Young is the president of SAY Media.