Content in the experience age – Let the battle for attention begin!


We are living in exciting times. The number of companies that understood the implications of the digital transformation grew very quick over the last years. Social Media marketing is heading to a maturity phase and Facebook continues its user growth. But there´s no time to relax now.

We can already see the first indicators of a new change. This change could be even bigger than the previous ones. They were mostly about actually creating an online identity and digitizing some parts of our life. But technology develops at an faster and faster speed and will get more immersive. This will lead to a state where our offline and online identities can´t be separated; they are one. This is what is often called the experience age.

But how can we make sure that we produce the right content in this new era of communication? Let me explain…

Facebook in 2016

Facebook is an incredible platform. No other platform managed such a sustainable growth, yet. According to the last quarter results Facebook is used by 1.71 Billion users that log in at least one time a month and 1.13 Billion that are daily active users.

However, beside these amazing figures there is one that does not really fit into this heavy and sustainable growth: The number of original status updates. This is the number of posts that were originally created by the user; own photos, own videos or own texts. This number decreased by 21% over the last year. So the people share more and more the content from others like links to news.


facebook_2016 experience age

But why is this happening?

Information age vs Experience age

To understand this development, we have to take a look at what´s happening in the social media landscape. As a social network, Facebook is focused on accumulation. It is about aggregating the content of a user on a single profile; it is about aggregating information. But in recent times, there are networks that have a different focus and are highly successful: Snapchat is such an example. Snapchat is not about accumulation or aggregation of information, but about continual self-expression.

Primary Input and Primary Feedback

If you want to share something on Facebook you do this with the status box. It is a fixed concept how you enter and publish a status on the platform. You have to enter information.

On the other hand, the feedback you get on Facebook is active feedback: likes, comments or shares. This is what most social media campaigns today focus on. They want to increase and measure these active feedback metrics.

The focus on continual self-expression in the new social networks is different. Snapchats main input is visual. When you start the app, the camera view is immediately active and you can create content. This allows the creation of very authentic content.

Snapchat´s management often refers to Snapchat as a camera company rather than a social network.

input_formats_facebook_snapchat experience age

The feedback you get for your snaps also is different: Snapchat is about passive feedback. You don´t have likes or shares, you have to get your subscribers attention. And this is a very important change, as Snapchat is not the only network that focuses on solely visual input and gives you passive feedback.

There are also other networks like, Periscope, Dubsmash or Twitch. Even Facebook is creating new products to adopt to this transformation. Facebook Live is just one example of this.

And again: These networks are all about one thing: Attention!

But how can you create content for the experience age?

Therefore, it is important to understand who you are creating content for, because as Mike Wadhera, founder of teleportVR, says in a recent article on Techrunch: „Many people think Snapchat is all about secrecy, but the real innovation of Snapchat´s ephemeral messages isn´t that they self-destruct. It´s that they force us to break the accumulation habit we brought over from desktop computing. The result is that the profile is no longer the center of the social universe. In the Experience you are not a profile. You are simply you.“

So this means that your offline and online identities are converging. Just think of new technologies like VR or AR. They will become more and more immersive and digital technologies will be a much more central part of our physical life.

We have to learn to create content for individual persons and not for channels or marketing funnels. People want individualized experiences like they get in the physical world. What we are used to is creating content for personas. We are used to create content for accumulated customer profiles or aggregations of information.

Personas are not persons

The problem here is that personas are not persons. Personas are abstract concepts of people and people are more than variables like age or gender. People have emotions, people have anxieties and people consume content in different contexts or situations.

We don´t have the technology yet to measure all the information we would need. We don´t always know the context or the situation the person is in at that moment. But just think of future technologies like smart contact lenses. These immersive technologies will make the offline and online world merge. We have to prepare for this stage of data analytics by shifting our model how we write content and find a way to add context and emotions to it.

How personas fail

Persona stories or user stories are created from three elements:

  • the Persona
  • the Action
  • the Expected Outcome

So an example could be:

As a student I want to ride a red car So that I can impress my friends.

The problem with this is that the user story does not define the context it tries to imply. The context in the example is that the person is a student. Everybody will create his/her own context for this user story.

Another problem is that the user story directly implies a solution: „I want to ride a red car“. But we don´t know if this is the best solution. Maybe there are other and better ways? It has too many assumptions.


Clayton Christensen and his Job-Marketing approach

But how can we improve personas and user stories to also include the context or certain emotions of our customers? A potential solution was created nearly 30 years ago by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, author of the book „The Innovators Dilemma“. Followed by the success of his book, he also wrote a second one that focuses on the solution of the dilemma called „the Innovators solution“. This is the first book he mentions a new theory called jobs marketing.

This perspective adds context to a persona and helps to find the best solutions for a problem.

The questions he asks: „What job does a customer hire our product for?“

Job Stories vs. User Stories

In the world of personas you have personas and user stories. In the world of job marketing you have jobs and jobs stories. So you still have categories you are creating content for, but you change the way how you define them to prepare your content for the experience age.


What´s next?

In the next posts, I will apply the jobs-to-be-done to several areas. There will be an example about how to apply the framework to product management and an example how to apply it to marketing, but also how to apply it to whole organizations and business models.

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