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For the last decade our content strategies have revolved around an almost clinical process of keyword analysis, link-building and page rank. Yet search engines work because of a basic psychological and very human need – the need to connect. Google, with its release of Panda and Penguin is trying to swing the pendulum back to humans and away from bots. What thrives in this world, is what I call Personal-First Content.

Here’s an example:

If you’re a content marketer then you know about Coke’s Content 2020 Marketing Manifesto. This is where sexy-as-he-wants-to-be Jonathan Mildenhall, VP of Coke’s Global Creative, shares the company’s gauntlet-throwing vision to double their sales by going all-in on storytelling. With the revamp of its website this month, Coke’s transition from media buyer to media publisher is fascinatingly complete. With the Happiness Machine, Coke has fallen head first into Personal Content Creation and it’s giving them a viral lift.

Personal Content Creation has nothing to do with bots. Doesn’t care about keywords. Isn’t interested in analytics–at least at the onset. Instead it’s content that lives in the personal thoughts, feelings and emotions of a public made universal by social media tools.

Personal-First Content moves beyond chasing key words into the realm of content that hits perennial unspoken human desires.

  • It is that juicy story-telling deliciousness that makes you DVR The Walking Dead or re-watch The Wire box set.
  • Purposefully plays Jedi-mind tricks, tugging at your basic human emotions, but feels authentic not icky.
  • Has a beginning, middle and an end and even an arc.
  • Goes beyond people and gets personal.
  • Messes with your mind, but you don’t care. Because the media meets a need.
  • Evokes a very specific feeling or memory. One that you have to share.

Do you think Coke created the Happiness YouTube videos through keyword analysis?  Hint: they didn’t.  (Read how they created the Happiness Machine Campaign, stellar stuff from blogger Meaghan Edelstein).

Personal-First Content says sure, we know what you’re searching for online today, but we also know what you’ve been looking for over the centuries and combines them to create a powerful user experience.

It’s the type of content that:

  • Solves age-old problems
  • Spreads humor
  • Follows a love story
  • Shows friendship
  • Spotlights Asians dancing to ‘80s music (Yeah 53 million people have seen the Thriller video!)
  • Uses photos of real people showing real emotion
  • Reeks of realism and exudes verisimilitude
  • Avoids lameness at all costs
  • Fully commits

It’s content that authentically connects us in our groups across technology through powerful visualization and stimulation of psychological concepts. It’s content that revels in the rich details of life. Or, as ancient scholars would call it, it’s storytelling.

If you want to create personal-first content then whip out your Psychology 101 book. Learn the names of Maslow, Milgram and Bernays (only for what NOT to do) and you’ll be well on your way.

So if you had to develop personal-first media today where would you start? What emotion would you pick? What need would you meet? I’d love to know. Coming up…other examples of great viral content.