One morning, a couple of weeks ago, someone I follow on Twitter was relentlessly retweeting what seemed like EVERY SINGLE BRAND'S April Fools’ tweet. One after the other, as if his joke filter was broken. A supermarket with a dating service predicated on the contents of your basket. A pizza firm proud to announce their new pepperoni-inspired underwear. A shoe company launching its ‘selfie shoe’. Have I lost your attention yet?
April 1st typified what many brands are doing the whole year round: creating content because they feel they need to, on any date or moment, regardless of whether or not it works for their brand
Why was he doing this?* with my mouse pointer suspended by the 'unfollow' button, my mind started drifting.
Good day for the Photoshop industry
April 1st typified what many brands are doing the whole year round: creating content because they feel they need to, on any date or moment, regardless of whether or not it works for their brand. Quick-witted Innocent called April Fools’ a ‘good day for the Photoshop industry'. But what's the real upshot of ‘Content Calendar Post Disorder’?
You could argue this is about 'perception' and 'long term brand building'. Just because someone has a cheap laugh at something you've hashed together on April Fools’ Day/Valentine’s Day/Pancake Day/Solar Eclipse Day/Let's Make A Day Up So We Can Pump Some Content Out Day, it doesn't mean anyone will remember you for it, or fondly reminisce years later: 'Oh Brand X, I remember the laughs we had around those public holidays. I fell in love with you then!'
Maybe we naively think they will instead be asking questions like: ‘What effect has Brand X's content had on me? How has it helped me? How has it made a difference to my life?’ But let's be honest, hoards of keen social media users lap this content up, feverishly retweeting, liking and sharing it. Even posts that you might think would fall on deaf ears get some interaction. I refer you to this Shrove-Tuesday-based ‘bantz’ from Homebase asking what type of pancake followers were having got one retweet, four favourites, three replies.
Banal and innocuous
So should we should check this grumpy cynicism and give people what they want? Well, you could look at it this way – all of this noise could be a good thing. The more brands carry on as they are, contributing to this cacophony of banal and innocuous stuff, the more opportunities there are to make your brand stand out from the crowd.
While many brands may post questionable content akin to spam social networks, and particularly Facebook, are set up to only to reward content that is engaged with or enjoyed
A few brands managed to cut through on April Fools’. In typical inventive fashion, Volvo UK packaged up Swedish air (yes, actual air) to promote a new air filtration product feature and Amazon launched its new Dash Button as if it were an April Fools’ prank. These brands ended up looking pretty good against a backdrop of noise.
While many brands may post questionable content akin to spam social networks, and particularly Facebook, are set up to only to reward content that is engaged with or enjoyed. If it doesn't go down well it's largely ignored. The argument that perhaps brands should post less is a moot point. If your content isn't liked it's almost irrelevant how trigger-happy you are.
So you can either despair over the sea of useless social content out there or you can focus on your own game, and use it as a complimentary backdrop for your smart/funny/useful content. Think about it, what a dull world it would be if everyone was attractive.
*The mystery April Fools’ prank tweeter was a PR man you won’t be surprised to hear.