Certain songs always evoke memories for me. They take me back to time periods, events, people, and even emotions with startling specificity, so much so that recently I realized I had begun to create mental playlists that applied to these memories. I’m not sure what that means–if anything–but it did set my mental wheels whirling.

Then I remembered some blog posts I had seen about a presentation called The Social Media Soundtrack: 10 Great Songs That Remind Us What’s Most Important (posts and presentation by Anthony Juliano). While I think the content of the presentation is spot-on, what really intrigues me is this method of delivery: communicating through playlists. It resonates with me, so of course I tried to figure out why.

Two things stand out to me when I consider this vehicle for sharing. The first is emotion. The most powerful connections are made when an emotional tie is part of that relationship. Certainly connections can be made for many reasons, not the least of which is a darned good argument, that is, content that makes sense. When an emotional tie is added–passion, revulsion, nostalgia, elation, sadness, whatever–that connection can instantly become rock solid. Music does that. Its evocative nature pulls us in, and when we use it to underscore our message, we see powerful results.

Cultural relevance stands out as the second critical factor. Before the age of digital media, disc jockeys might have had playlists for their air time or for clubs or private gigs, but the term wasn’t bandied casually about among the masses. (Before that, a playlist might have been a stack of records, and before that, a list of children invited to your kid’s birthday party. Things change.) Now everyone makes playlists for everything (thanks, Steve Jobs)–for parties, workouts, sad times, date nights, you name it. We “get” playlists; they convey the language of the day.

The medium is critical to effective messaging. Once you have the content nailed, you have to deliver it in a way that “speaks” to your audience. Make a connection, speak the language. And never, ever get comfortable. Tomorrow’s language won’t be the same.

I told you I could put the anal in analyze–even for playlists. Stay tuned. I might even add a few here from time to time.

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