College Basketball Tournament’s Most Important Piece of Paper: A Lesson in Content

It’s tournament time! With the college basketball season winding down, and the tournament starting today, it’s time for millions to sit and watch upset-after-upset-after-thrilling moment-after-agonizing defeat. As an avid college basketball fan, it’s easy to understand why I love this tournament. But I watch college basketball religiously throughout the year, so the fact that I believe this is the best time of year is not a surprise. However, why do so many, non-fans feel the same way?

Here's my favorite bracket ever, in 2008, when Kansas upset Kentucky for it all!

Here’s my favorite bracket ever, from 2008, when Kansas upset Kentucky for it all!

First and foremost, we have to start with the product. With the one-loss-and-you’re-done design of the tournament, there’s a feeling that every second counts, creating an edge of your seat experience that people can’t get enough of. Add in the passion of the players and coaches, and you can see why people suddenly find hope in an underdog, and spite for the favorite that wins out.

But beyond the product, there’s more to it. It has to do with the brackets. We all love filling out the brackets. We compare what we have to our co-workers, friends and families. We bet on who will win. We take pride when our bracket, which is only 42% correct, comes out as the winning one. We call ourselves experts, even as our grandma who couldn’t tell the difference between a 12 seed and a 2 seed, destroys our 42% with a 75% effort. It unites us and gives us something to talk about. It was an original social network. An it’s so niche, that it’s a social network where we only discuss basketball, picks, upsets and front-runners. We only discuss the NCAA. We only discuss college basketball. How many companies would love that same passion in their social efforts?

How does this come to be? After all, it started with a tournament of 8 teams in 1939 at a time that very few probably filled out such predictions. But now for decades, people have eagerly filled out such brackets in hope of guessing correctly. As far as I can tell, there’s no clear indication that someone has filled out a bracket correctly all the way through, although back when it was 32, 22 and 8 teams, the possibility seems much more likely than with the 147.57 quintillion possibilities that are available with today’s version.

And yet, we all fill it out because of the connection it creates. Continue reading

Content Development Lessons From Doctor Who?

A little secret about me is that I love science-fiction. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of my favorite books, Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favorite authors, and my dog’s name is Wookie… enough said. So when I’m looking for new shows to watch, I often stumble into a sci-fi of some sort. And I’m now knee-deep into BBC’s Doctor Who?

Can you mimic what Docto Who does in your content strategy as well as this reproduction?

Can you mimic what Doctor Who does in your content strategy as well as this reproduction?

If you haven’t seen it, and you like sci-fi, then I would recommend it as long as you can deal with corny special effects and over-the-top acting (which you probably do, if you like sci-fi). But this isn’t a commercial for the program. Instead, I want to talk about developing your company’s story using Doctor Who as an example.

The series, which has been around since 1963, has had countless of re-airings, movies and even plays. And now there are talks of JK Rowling writing an ebook of the show. Why does such a concept continually get new play at a time when there’s a number of options for showcasing a time-traveler story? There are two main reasons that stand out to me, as I watch the show. And these should be mimicked by anyone trying to develop their own company story.

1. It Inspires

While you can have all the great points in the world, there’s really one tried-and-true way to encourage people to keep coming back to you. And it’s not always the quality of your product. For example, you could argue that the Android phones are in fact better than the iPhone (they’re adaptable, cheaper and there’s more variety) but because of Apple’s marketing, the iPhone continues to outsell any other company’s version of the Android phone. It’s not even close, in that sense. And the reason this happens is because it inspires users.

Doctor Who inspires fans by going to far off places, and exploring new, made-up worlds. It’s interesting because it’s something that so many want to do: travel, explore and have new experiences. That’s inspiring, even if it’s using a land 3000 years in the future for its backdrop.

How does your company or brand inspire another with your content strategy? What do you showcase and offer that will encourage someone to read what you write, then sit and ponder it throughout the day? What will drive them to come back and read again?

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photo by: JD Hancock