My step-mother has one of those robot vacuum cleaners. It’s programmed to jump into life at 9am each day and zip backwards and forwards around the house, while everyone is at work, cleaning the floor. It does an OK job.
She calls it Robbie.
Robbie is The Jetsons future we were all promised. Over the past couple of weeks, while staying with my Dad and step-mum in Australia, I’ve come to care deeply for Robbie. But Robbie is getting a bit old and a bit inefficient. Robbie breaks down. He gets tired. He has little crises. He needs his bin emptied.
Robbie is an excellent parable for the state of content marketing in 2022.
Why do we, as human beings, naturally ascribe intentions, identities and even entire personalities to things like vacuum cleaners or cars or the sea? Why did Tom Hanks befriend and name a volleyball in the movie Castaway?
We do it because we crave a connection. We want not just to communicate but to relate.
Personification and anthropomorphism (attributing human characteristics to something that’s not human) is innate. We do it naturally, as children. It is a gift and a delight that never leaves us. Even the most curmudgeonly among us is inclined to do it.
So, what does all this have to do with content marketing?
Robbie is a robot. He is an extremely clever amalgam of machine and machine-learning software. He has no heart, no brain and no personality. Yet we crave a connection with him, so we invent a personality for him.
Which brings me neatly to my point: While science provides the functionality, humans provide the soul and the sparkle.
The content marketing space is now flooded with experts and apps and articles promising all manner of shortcuts and quick fixes and data-driven opportunities to exploit new niches and yadda yadda yadda …
All of that is fine, up to a point. But we shouldn’t forget, in our race for incremental advantage, that ultimately it is a human being who is engaging with our content, a human being we’re trying to connect with, a human being who will decide whether or not to buy our goods and services.
And if you’re trying to impress a human, give them the personality they’re craving. That’s how you make that all-important connection. That’s how you not only make sales but win rusted-on fans.
Make your content less “iRobot Roomba R692 Robotic Vacuum” and more “Robbie”.
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