Disruptive content: Bringing the king down to the masses
Understanding content in digital media is not just about understanding what topics are trending, nor is it about agreeing with the concept of "content is king". Today, we have to stop and rethink our beliefs about what makes content decent.
Content is involved in influencing and being influenced in this era of disruption, when management methods, marketing, politics and things that were once considered valid now need to be re-questioned.
Marketers are no longer able to merely advertise cosmetics products with flawless models and high-resolution videos. Today's consumers are more used to average-quality smartphone videos and honest reviews from vloggers or social media celebrities. Raw videos are in; as evidenced in the popularity of short, almost real-life videos in Story format on Snapchat or Instagram. The concept of "perfect imperfection" itself makes content relevant.
For example, I found myself intrigued by an anomaly I called the Diwan Phenomena, which comes in the form of a video titled "Diwan Makan Bakso" (Diwan eats meatballs) and has so far attracted at least 66.6 million views. The content is as straightforward as the title: It shows Diwan, a 10-year-old boy, eating bakso. Another video, titled "Diwan Makan Bakso Lagi" (Diwan eats meatballs again), garnered more than 3.4 million views. The content? Of course, it shows Diwan eating meatballs, again.
If you have spare time, consider visiting the Ibu dan Balita Indonesia (Indonesian mother and toddler) account on YouTube and look for the video "Balita Lucu Menunggu Paman Penjual Es Krim" (Cute toddler waits for the ice cream seller). You might be confused seeing that the video merely shows a mother accompanying her toddler waiting for an ice cream seller before eating ice cream. There are no plot twists, except for the fact that this video has more than 220.2 million views.
Another video, titled "Balita Lucu Menunggu Paman Penjual Es Krim – Keranjang Belanja Mainan Anak" (Cute toddler waits for the ice cream seller - toy shopping cart), shows a toy shopping cart and so far has at least 22.6 million views. The duration of the video is almost 10 minutes and whenever I show this to my marketer friends, they usually are not only shocked but also super annoyed since they have invested their time, energy and capital to really think of the best content, and all of those efforts seem useless now.
In social psychology, there is a theory known as the Pratfall Effect, which is based on now-classic findings by psychologist Elliot Aronson. The theory explains that an individual perceived to be highly competent would be considered more likable after committing a blunder, while a perceived average individual would be considered less likable.
Advertising legend Frank Lowe nailed this in his campaign for Stella Artois’s Belgian pilsner beer, "Reassuring Expensive", which was considered an expensive brand compared to its competitors. Lowe emphasized the expensiveness of the brand and equalized this with quality, turning a previously perceived disadvantage as a selling point.
But how come digital content nowadays, like showing the clumsy scenes of people’s lives, successfully attracts people's attention? Perhaps it is because social media has built a new layer for the “concept of public figures”, which used to limited to ivory towers, but now has become horizontal, meaning mistakes can be made by anyone.
This means that pop culture – once constructed by the mass media and, of course, by the selected tastes of owners and executives – is now formed by the general public. If we refer to Harold Laswell's famous bullet theory, maybe what is now in the position of a sitting duck that surrenders to the bullet is us: mass media organizations and marketers, who used to be under the hegemony of content producers.
The direction has shifted, and it is not just about topics and content. Some new social media platforms, such as TikTok, are successfully winning young people's hearts. TikTok content creator Andrea Okeke summed up Gen Z in a discussion session at Cannes Lions Festival 2020 in June: "They see everything, they are hyper-focused."
With the increase of hours per day spent using gadgets, people no longer choose content with preferences. They are not looking. They are accustomed to open content platforms and devour everything from their timelines.
There is an interesting analysis from Owen, a copywriter in my office, about TikTok. He said, "TikTok allows everyone to be a celebrity and be appreciated by others. While on Instagram, only people with certain lifestyles are considered cool. TikTok offers a home that opens its doors to all people. "
Perhaps, with this phenomenon, the most important question when discussing content for marketing is: how dare you disrupt your current sets of knowledge and preferences of taste?