5 Content Marketing Lessons From SNL in the Age of Trump
Whatever you think of his politics, President Donald Trump has been great for comedy. Saturday Night Live is having a revival of popularity as its hard-hitting satire and perfectly casted actors -- like Melissa McCarthy’s hilarious portrayal of White House spokesman Sean Spicer and Alec Baldwin as Trump -- speaks to the country’s latest concerns about the various chaos and insanity emerging from Trump’s administration.
What can other content creators and marketers learn from SNL’s recent resurgence of Trump-related success?
Seize upon key issues and crucial conversations.
Trump's presidency is the biggest story in recent political history, so this is an easy one for SNL. Everyone in the national media is talking about Trump all the time. But what about your business or your industry? What are the key issues that your customers are worried about and focusing on? Don’t assume that you know the answer. Use Twitter as a listening tool to see which keywords and topics are trending for your industry and your key audiences. Then you can create content that speaks directly to those areas of concern.
Slay sacred cows.
SNL is not afraid to be irreverent, even offensive, toward the most powerful people in Washington. What is the biggest controversial topic/issue in your industry? What are the things that people in your industry should be saying? What stands should they be taking that they are not? What is the elephant in the room or the emperor with no clothes? Find these opportunities and create content that speaks to those issues. Build a reputation as a truth teller.
Rally your base.
SNL is probably not going to win many fans among Trump’s supporters, but they’re focusing instead on getting a bigger share of fans from the large percentage of Americans who are opposed to Trump. Don't be afraid to be controversial or even polarizing. Sometimes it's better to speak passionately to the people who are most enamored with your brand, even at the risk of not appealing to lots of other people. SNL is rallying a big audience of people who are not Trump supporters -- and SNL’s ratings are up! In content marketing on TV, it's often better to have a passionate and lucrative niche following than to fail to appeal to a mainstream mass audience that no longer really exists.
Make unconventional choices.
McCarthy was cast as White House spokesman Sean Spicer -- and her performance was brilliant -- but the choice of a woman to play Spicer was also oddly inspired and unexpected. Don't be afraid to be unconventional. Keep trying new things and elevating new voices within your company. Your content strategy doesn't have to look like the usual suspects.
But stay focused on quality.
SNL is having a resurgence of popularity as people tune in to try to get some laughs out of our latest national political news, but even Trump's biggest opponents won't want to watch if the show's not funny. SNL can't become just a strident platform for anti-Trump statements; it still needs to be a comedy show first and foremost that makes people laugh. In the same way, content marketing can't be just a stunt or a gimmick or push an agenda. You need to have a foundation of insight and quality that keeps people coming back.
Who knows what will happen during Trump’s presidency, but SNL is leading the way for a vibrant, engaging, no-holds-barred national conversation about politics. This fearless spirit is something that all content creators and content marketers can try to emulate in our own work.