I spent an inspirational day recently at Ping Helsinki Business Festival, which united marketers and online influencers under the same roof for one day. The theme that combined all the great speeches at the event was clearly courage, which was even reflected in the dress code of the event, “let yourself go”.

Many speakers made a clear statement saying that the biggest mistake you can do as a marketer is to play it too safe. In order to succeed, you need to be brave and have the guts to try new things. Creating content that is safe is actually the same as being completely invisible. Because, as we all know, the amount of content to which we are exposed to every day is enormous – so if you don’t stand out, you will be lost in the noise. Therefore, you need to be brave and try to push boundaries or you might as well do nothing at all! If you are too afraid of being inappropriate or hurting someone’s feelings with bolder content, the result ends up neutral. And neutral messages rarely make you memorable.

Fantastic image? Awesome copy? That’s not quality content!

I also believe being brave equals quality. Even if you have the most beautiful image, a clear message and a well written copy in line with your brand, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have created quality content. If that content doesn’t shake your audience up, make them stop and take notice or have the power to break through the noise, it’s not quality content. Quality content should be well executed in image and copy, but it also has to stand out in a very competitive ocean of content – and the only way to stand out is to be unique in one way or another.

Smart companies lead conversations instead of just participating in them

YouTube superstar Casey Neistat pointed out in his speech that one essential factor of succeeding in being brave, is to be able to find your own voice and way of doing things. Instead of spending time replicating ideas from other successful campaigns, you should invest that time in trying to figure out how you can differentiate in a unique way from other players in the field. This is something that every marketer should spend time finding for their brands, as it cannot be developed overnight.  

A good example that represents Casey’s unique style, is the video he did for the 20th Century Fox in 2013. The studio approached him to make a promotional film for the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a story about living out your dream. Casey suggested that he would give away his whole budget of 25,000 USD to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and make a video about the process. 20th Century Fox agreed his proposal and the end result is impressive. This showed courage from 20th Century Fox and Casey Neistat succeeded to surprise both his audience and the client with a very bold approach.

Brave ones are delightfully unexpected

One of the key note speakers at Ping Helsinki, content marketing guru Ann Handley, said that being brave is the ability to be unexpected. Basically every brand has the potential to surprise and be desired when the story behind the brand and the products is top notch. Everything should start from a story and the storytelling needs to be bold.

As an example she talked about baby food company Plum Organics, which for instance encourages parents to have more sex in their Do Your Part(ner) campaign. Probably not the first thing you would expect a baby food company to talk about, right? In their campaign they show that parenting isn’t always pretty – it’s also messy, frustrating and demanding at times. Their approach is at the same time encouraging, entertaining and definitely unexpected.

To sum this all up: rising above the crowd with your content has never been as challenging as it is today. Creating safe content that gets lost in the noise is probably a waste of your resources. So, dare to take a stand and push boundaries! If you dedicate time to find your unique way of creating content and combine it with quality executions, you are much more likely to be noticed and wow your audience.  

Next up I'm going to dive into some great examples of brands with bold social media content. But before that I would love to hear what brands have made an impression on you with brave content? Feel free to share some of your favorites with me in the comments!