I ask this because content marketers today may be in a similar position to Edward Bernays at the beginning of the 20th century.
Often referred to as the “father of public relations” Bernays was fascinated with his uncle Sigmund Freud’s work and saw an opportunity to make use of human nature and instinctual drives in advertising.
Before that time, most people waited for things to wear out and purchased items only when they were needed. But Bernays built a career and founded an industry on the manipulation of irrational desires in an effort to compel people to purchase things they don’t need.
One hundred years later, it might be argued that the Bernays approach had a disastrous effect on society leading to destruction of the environment, an unhealthy focus on materialism and an increase in disease, crime and disharmony throughout the world.
However, a confluence of technological developments has changed mass communications from a primarily broadcast (one to many) model to a network (many to many) model providing more choice.
As a result, the creation and distribution of fresh quality content online has become the fulcrum of many modern marketing strategies and given birth to the term “content marketing”, though many would argue that the basic form has been alive since before Bernays.
The epic shift that is taking place in marketing right now is both influenced by and influencing:
- Rise of blogging and ease of self-publishing
- Free information on the web
- Social media platforms
- Rise of social in marketing
- Demise of major media publications
- Search engine algorithms favoring fresh quality content
- Movement toward transparency
- Movement toward pull v push marketing
- Movement away from spin & manipulation & toward authenticity
- Movement toward online community
It’s an important time for marketers, journalists and the public in general to consider what is happening and the implications these changes may have for our future.
I don’t have the answers, but I think it’s important to ask the questions. What do you think? Will society be better off in 50 years? What do you think is likely to change as a result of content marketing? What can content marketers do to ensure our work is good for humanity in general?
Please let us know what you think in the comments below and join us Monday at 3 pm est when our #ContentChat will be a discussion on “How Will Content Marketing Affect the Future?”
Read more relating to this topic:
(Photo by Hugo90)