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Confronting the Challenge of Telling Stories in Real Time

The future of content might very well be about finding a better way to respond to the present.

As part of New York’s Social Media Week, marketing and content experts addressed emerging content trends for the panel, “What’s The Future?,” on Wednesday at MSL Group.

Brian Solis, principal analyst for Altimeter Group, was performing double duty, appearing as a panelist and launching his new book What’s the Future of Business? Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences.

Curran, Snow, Solis, and Walter at the MSL Group panel.

The panel was composed of several thought leaders in the content, marketing, and PR industries, including Solis; Shane Snow, CCO of Contently; Ekaterina Walter, social media strategist at Intel; Alex Bruell, reporter at Ad Age; and Joel Curran, managing director of MSL New York.

The discussion focused on the evolving nature of content strategy and the challenges of operating in real-time.

Curran said that successful content marketers will increasingly be “people who can craft a story around a brand narrative quickly.”

Solis echoed this notion, saying, “We need to become real-time marketers,” citing the Oreo example from this year’s Super Bowl, illustrating how effective timely content marketing can be.

But, it goes beyond a one-time success story. The impetus for marketers to produce consistent content based on what matters at any given moment is often at odds with the legal hurdles of creating brand content, especially when it comes to trying to publish anything within a matter of minutes.

Still, Curran said, the most important aspect of content creation remains “great storytelling,” and Solis added that it’s important to “let the audience take a journey.”

Snow, urging a more diverse notion of storytelling, said, “There’s more than one good way to tell a story.” Whether it’s text, a photograph, a video, or any other medium, content must be in whatever form most appropriate for the particular story to have an impact.

And, the panel agreed, it’s not just about producing quality content — it must be delivered to the right place at the right time. People operate in the “now,” and if marketers want to be relevant to their audience, they must function there, too.

As Solis said in the pre-panel talk introducing his book, “Context is king. Content in the right context is what matters.”

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