It is no secret that this year content marketing is the most talked about trend for brands looking to engage and build loyalty with online followers. It makes sense then that there are many, many sessions at this year’s SXSW dedicated to creating content that is fresh, relevant and interesting. And because it is topic that everyone wants (and needs) to learn more about, the sessions have been packed. In fact, they have had to turn away three to four times as many people than can fit in the room. I was one of those turned away twice today.

Interestingly however, even the sessions not defined as “content marketing” topics touched on that topic in their discussions. It is that big. The web is, and has always been, a content bank. Now with channels for distribution and engagement (i.e., social media) that are past their novelty “what’s happening?” phase and into a service and education phase, the content shared is more important, especially for brands.

The mystery that we are all trying to solve: how to build relationships with customers and clients through content that is interesting and relevant without being too sales-y and pushy. The impulse to sell is strong. But doing that in social channels is wrong.

From the the first day of SXSW, I heard that people want transparency, to be included in the process of whatever you are making or selling, and they want social value. This aspect of social value is very interesting: B-Corporations, buy one/give one,  and in general, giving back. These things make a company stand out among the masses, give people reasons to buy from the companies that do it, and provide many content opportunities for companies to leverage in their engagement channels. the beauty of this trend in delivering social value is that it is good for the company, good for the buyer and good for the world. Yes, good content can make a big difference for brands’ perceptions.