Fact: Content marketing is the new darling of social business and has dominated the conversation over the last few years. The numbers speak for themselves. There were roughly 50,000 blog posts and over 100,000 tweets just on content strategy in the last year alone.
When we published our first ebook in 2011 on Content Supply Chain, the new content marketing model was very early in its maturation and understanding.
· Experts, thought leaders and agencies were busy redefining it and its relationship with social.
· Only a small percentage wrote about content as a holistic process and it was too early for measurable results of a successful program.
· The hottest topic was the notion of Brands as Publishers.
· The biggest pain points were related to traditional publishing demands and the ability to create amazing and disruptive content.
Fast forward to today.
· Though it is still nascent, content marketing has matured and the level of sophistication has risen as brands (particularly large enterprise) sort through the complexities.
· The conversation is less theoretical and more experience-based. And there are lessons learned thanks to early adopters such as SAP, Coca-Cola and Intel.
· Content on content has become more holistic and process-based as companies begin to operationalize internally.
· It is still a long road to ROI, but there are some common value metrics.
· We’ve gone from Brands AS Publishers to Brands ARE Publishers.
· In addition to content creation, the biggest pain points are related to organizational silos and governance issues and roles.
As my colleague Kathy Baughman explained in her latest blog post, this month we are releasing a companion piece to our ebook, The Alchemy of Content: A Formula for Overcoming 4 Major Content Pain Points, to help marketers sort through this brave new world. Hopefully it will serve as a useful tool for marketers and content strategists. Stay tuned!
A quick guide to social listening
If you haven’t been exercising your right to fast forward through commercials lately, you might have noticed a few IBM ads on TV about social analytics and how it will help ‘create a smarter planet’. Or you might have read Dell’s plans to expand their services offering with social listening for brands.
The adoption of social listening platforms has grown at a tremendous rate in the last three years, even though the technology has been around for a while. Dell didn’t unveil their famed listening command center until 2010. Why? Because it took early adopters like Dell, IBM and others to really understand how to use these platforms effectively and strategically.
When we started beta testing listening platforms back in 2006, our challenge was to cull out actionable information from a bunch of disparate data points. Key word mentions, share of voice and sentiment didn’t provide the level of granularity we needed to make actionable decisions. We knew that the human side could offer more insights than pure automation. Through trial and error, we developed a replicable process and approach to social listening that bridged technology and thought.
Today, brands have become much more sophisticated with social listening to drive engagement. A plethora of platforms are available to help with any number of the following programs:
If you are thinking about beginning a social listening program or recalibrating your current one, I offer a few tips to keep in mind.
Have a program goal in mind before you evaluate or adopt a platform.
Platforms have greatly improved their functionality and usability. However, they all have strengths, weaknesses and a breadth of offerings. Based on your goal(s), create a simple assessment tracker that allows you to look across and compare multiple platforms and evaluate them against your specific needs. I have included a sample below. Get your key questions answered along the way. Remember everything looks flashy and exciting in that first demo.
Don’t rely on data alone.
The output of social listening should be more qualitative than quantitative. Numbers give you a baseline, a cluster to investigate and a way to gauge if you are moving the proverbial needle. However, metrics in and of themselves are often interesting, but not always useful.
The real value lies in the interpretation of the results. Therefore assign a SME or partner to the project. Someone with deep knowledge and expertise on your products, services, target industries and audience personas will help make the leap from general observation à insight à opportunity.
Map out your approach.
I don’t know how many times I have heard, “Can I get a listening report?” Well, that could mean many things. Take the time upfront to figure out exactly what insights you’re looking for. Start by listing out your objectives for the program. It could be a simple list of questions you want answered so that you can:
Here is an example. Let’s say you want insights to drive your content marketing strategy for a particular product. Below are some key questions to ask:
Go beyond what is #trending now.
Mine content as far back as a year old. It may seem a little counterintuitive, but it is important to understand the development (or maturity level) of your topic areas so that your actions are relevant based on what your audience cares about. How has the social content on a particular topic or theme evolved over the course of the last year, compared to six months ago and compared to today? Have the conversations increased, stayed flat or dropped? This is where some of your metrics come in handy. Let’s look at an example below.
The goal of this particular project was to inform a content marketing roadmap in a specific industry. We wanted to create an effective content creation strategy relevant to specific points on the decision journey. We compared core topics by quarter over a year’s time. The numbers indicated greater traction for topics A and D, while B and C were emerging. By overlaying the context of the social conversation sample, we determined how they were talking in addition to how much. With aligned data points and context, we recommended that the content direction for A and D should be geared towards consideration and preference, while B and C would focus on promoting adoption and awareness. Below is a peek into what we found.
[Note: Some tools are limited in the amount of historical data they store so add this criteria to your evaluation checklist.]
Without question, social listening platforms are becoming business as usual. If you are currently struggling with your listening program ask yourself some key questions on your strategy and approach. If you are not currently listening, but know that you should have a plan in mind before you just dive in.
Have a question? I’m listening!
In the flurry of predictions for hot marketing trends in 2013 and beyond, you’d be hard pressed to find a story that didn’t include content at its core. Whatever the context – delivered via digital, social, or mobile; designed for demand gen or ongoing customer engagement; paid, earned or owned media – it’s in there. With content as king (and perhaps queen and court), Forbes suggests that brands’ attention has shifted from ‘why content marketing’ to ‘how to.’ We’ve seen that trend borne out with our clients as well.
In evaluating your own content strategy and how to take it to the next level, be brutally honest in answering five key questions:
1. Are you striking the right balance by offering content that provides value across the buyers’ journey or are you are more skewed in one phase at the expense of others? For many content marketers, resources are often focused heavily on filling the ‘top of the funnel’ (demand generation), but fall short on driving consideration, preference or even engaging customer ‘fans’ as a powerful post-purchase channel. Take stock of where your content gaps lie and recalibrate to ensure you’ve got the kind of content that holds the most sway at each phase of the path to purchase.
2. In your zeal to continue to ‘feed the beast,’ are you cannibalizing your own content efforts? With the seemingly never-ending demand for more, more, more – 64% of B2B content marketers cite ‘producing enough content’ as their #1 challenge, according to Content Marketing Institute’s 2013 Content Marketing report. The question is – are you giving your content ‘time to breathe.’ Producing too many pieces too fast may not allow you to maximize the value of those assets. Finding the right cadence for your audience is key.
3. Are the customers’ or prospects’ information needs at the heart of your content program? A corollary to Questions 1 and 2. Content marketing is driven by both your brand’s overarching business objectives – no apologies here — AND the need to create value for your target. Clearly, content strategy should be designed to effectively marry the two. This will also drive a flight to quality. Content consumers have too many options on too many screens to waste precious time on content that doesn’t engage them in a compelling and channel appropriate way. To borrow a phrase from CMI’s Joe Pulizzi, ‘quality is the new quantity.’
4. Is there visibility across your organization of what content exists, is in development, or planned? The benefits of such a content ‘window’ (powered by CMS technology) are clear — message consistency, brand alignment, greater efficiency/less duplication of efforts, more throughput, increased opportunity for amplification, and cost savings, to name a few. The larger, more dispersed the content organization, the greater the potential value.
5. Do you have a content plan upfront – or are you constantly in repurposing mode? In other words, are you regularly asking ‘what should we do with this great piece of content now that I have it’ – after the fact. A more efficient and effective starting point is to look at what you’re trying to accomplish, then laying out how to tell that story in a way that’s best suited to each key channel – before any content is developed. Think about content cornerstones that center on topics providing high value to your target and best represent your brand. Map it out – who’s creating what assets when, distributing/amplifying them where and when, driving content consumers to what action, and tracking how well that content performs. Learn and adjust as needed. Carefully crafting a content strategy in advance can provide powerful guidance for more effective development and deployment of content.
How you answer these key questions – and more importantly, what you choose to do going forward — can spell the difference between being good enough and setting a new content marketing standard.
“Take me with you.” If I could fit my friends, family and colleagues in my suitcase, I would, but to avoid exorbitant fees for overweight luggage, I rely instead on my favorite social networks to share real-time star sightings, emerging new talent and film discoveries at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s the next best thing to being there, right?
It’s this notion of inclusiveness that is the heart of what the folks at the Sundance Institute have strived to accomplish through social media — to provide everyone – whether you are in Park City or Paraguay – with an insider festival experience.
And, because the festival itself is only one moment in the journey of an independent film, Sundance’s social strategy effectively engages the film community and connoisseur well before, during and after the festival experience.
Before landing in Park City
Our journey began months before our flight to the mountain town of Park City when it was time to purchase tickets online during our allocated (by lottery) time slot. This can be a time-consuming endeavor as we sifted through 200 films in exhibition. What should we see? How do we get around? Will there be enough time to get from venue to venue?
Thankfully, the Sundance Film Festival 2013 mobile app offered a killer tool to help us effectively navigate, schedule and share the movies, parties and panels at this year’s event. With access to exclusive articles and blogs, GPS and maps, photo galleries, trailers and social networks for film geeks like us, we were able to select the films with the most buzz and coordinate with fellow friends our movie, party and dinner dates.
(By the way, Twitter was also a big help with the timely release of Sundance 2012 Filmmakers, its “hot list” of filmmakers, critics and industry voices to follow at this year’s extravaganza.)
Between movies, Twitter was our go-to source for updates on the films, Q&As, award winners and more. While major media and online news outlets contributed commentary on Twitter about the festival, the Institute did its best with two extremely active Twitter handles dedicated exclusively to all things Sundance. And, this year, they did something new and completely fresh: invited guest celebrities like Mariel Hemingway and Dave Grohl to interact with fans using the @SundanceFest account.
With @sundancefestnow, we were able to get 24/7 live, up-to-the-minute updates – something that proved quite helpful when it was time to “casually run into” James Franco.
Here’s a photo we posted on Instagram with Sundance fixture James Franco. That’s me on the right, along with my partner in movies Bradley Lincoln.
Since Sundance is the place to see and be seen, it’s not surprising that Sundance created, for the first time this year, pages on Pinterest and Instagram. After all, these are the perfect platforms to relay pictures taken at premieres, on the red carpet, backstage or during interviews.
While Pinterest may be the social network du jour, we regularly checked Sundance’s Facebook page to make sure we didn’t miss a beat. From a content perspective, the Facebook page effectively curates what’s happening in all of Sundance’s social networks – effectively serving as a “one-stop shop” to all things Sundance. What’s more, it’s truly engaging (perhaps explaining why they have more than 277K followers): every post is linked to the people, movies and groups being discussed with an average of two to three other tagged pages.
Even with very little sleep, it’s just impossible to be everywhere at once. Or, so we thought. Sundance made it possible, in part, with an afternoon series of eight live Google+ Hangouts with artists and special guests. (For those that weren’t comfortable with Google+, you could also participate via Google chat or Twitter using the hashtag #SundanceHangouts).
And, even though we weren’t able to snag tickets for the Award Ceremony, we were able to get up-close-and-personal with host Joseph Gordon-Levitt and other celebrities in attendance by checking out Sundance’s Livestream, a robust collection of original content, including Q&As, panels and events. So, when people asked us if we saw Spike Lee, I can honestly say we did (just not in person).
The fest may be done, but the party isn’t over
For film lovers like me, the Sundance experience is far from over. We didn’t have the opportunity to check out this year’s selected shorts, but can view them in the comfort of our home by checking out The Screening Room, a new YouTube channel featuring a selection of short films that premiered at the festival. As we debate the true meaning of the movie “Concussion,” we can check out director Stacie Passon’s perspective at “Meet the Artists,” a video series created by Sundance. And, of course, we can keep tabs of the films we saw and those that we sadly missed by following their journey to a big or small screen near you on Sundance’s social networks.
By embracing social, Sundance has effectively created powerful, year-round connections with film afficianados who are hungry for independent film, new voices and untold stories. Don’t take my word for it; check out the social side of Sundance for yourself. If you like what you see, join me next year for the Fest (and, no, you cannot fit inside my luggage – I’m going carry-on next year).
As you publish marketing content, you need to ensure that you have systems in place to measure its effectiveness as well as continuously improve your content marketing efforts. The best way to do this is to select and track the best key performance indicators that fit your marketing program. Typically, these fall into one of four categories:
For the purposes of this blog post, I am going to focus on the first three but you can read more about building and measuring brand advocacy here.
Automating the Curation of Content
If you have a digital marketing hub and want to automate the curation of content to other marketing sites or to CRM newsletters, the first step in the measurement process is to ensure that you have properly defined a taxonomy within your content ecosystem and that all of the content that needs to be measured is organized accordingly. Once you have that completed, you can begin to define a score for your content. I recommend using some mix of how frequently the content was:
The scorecard should assign each individual piece of content a score and be grouped together by the categories defined in your taxonomy. Not only will the scorecard give you the top pieces of content, but it can also provide insights into which content types (video, white papers, etc.) are the most popular for a specific topic.
SEO and Link Building
If the goal of your marketing program is to build domain equity, increase traffic or measure the effectiveness of your link building efforts then the approach to measurement will differ from creating a content tracking scorecard. SEO is all about traffic and keywords so your measurement process should be mapped to your SEO keywords. From there, you’ll want to track percentage of traffic to your domain by:
The SEO dashboard should focus on which channels are driving the most traffic by keyword and which are the most cost-effective. This will help you focus your efforts when creating and publishing content.
If you need to measure and increase content’s performance to conversions then you need to create a multi-leveled dashboard that will:
Start with identifying all of the places that you are amplifying your branded content. Typically these would include your social, blogs, pay-per-click and any partner’s websites. Next, organize your dashboard so that it provides a top-level review of each channel and how efficient it is a driving conversion. The middle layer of the dashboard will include details of each asset within the channel. For example, this layer would break down the social channel into your Facebook Fan Page, Twitter account and YouTube efforts. The final layer of the dashboard should provide insights into the specific metrics of each asset. For example, the number of YouTube videos posted, the number of views, traffic driven to the marketing asset from YouTube and how likely the visitor was to convert.
These are the most common KPIs you can use to measure the effectiveness of your marketing content strategy. While most marketing programs cut across all four of these scenarios, I suggest trying to narrow your focus to the specific KPI that meets your needs rather than trying to implement all of them at once. Think about what questions you need answers to and select the KPI that will help you answer those questions first. You can always add new ones as you go!
Share this news. Re-tweet this great testimonial. Pin our new infographic. Instagram our brilliant creative. Promote our contest. Get them to like us – really, really like us.
It’s good to be popular. Once the forgotten bunch, social media managers are becoming increasingly popular as their brand and marketing colleagues clamor to get their baby some social media love.
Before you post, keep in mind we’re publishers now. And, with that comes great responsibility. It’s not just about keeping our internal clients happy, but our followers as well. It requires a careful balancing act.
Sure, there are conversation opportunities that are serendipitous and often random that can’t be planned in advance – after all, you want content in the mix that is disruptive and fun. But, that needs to be supplemented with an organizational framework that ensures that social engagement efforts are tightly integrated with an organization’s marketing, PR and communications plans. To do this effectively, you need to create, consult and maintain a content calendar (weekly, monthly) that serves as a roadmap for all social media efforts. What’s more, you need to share the calendar across the organization to get everyone onboard and to improve and extend your social reach and results.
With the New Year just around the corner, here are seven resolutions to make before you publish:
· Target accordingly. For each social channel and shared content, ask yourself: What am I trying to accomplish? Who are we talking to? What brand messages do we want to convey? Then, align and craft posts accordingly to ensure they are relevant and engaging to your various audiences.
· Take inventory. Audit the timely and compelling content that you have currently or that’s in the works. Create a worksheet to organize them into content buckets (topics) and types (news links, blog posts, poll questions, videos, infographics, e-books, events, etc.).
· Create themes. Pick topics or themes in broad categories that can be broken down into sub-categories. Align your theme accordingly based on the demographics/interests of each social network. The key to success is to decide upon a manageable number of categories, product areas or marketing promotions to focus on each month. Consider developing standing, recurring features (e.g. “Fun Fridays”). And, don’t forget the freebies: holidays, national observances, events and cultural happenings all provide opportunities to make connections and spark conversations. Authenticity is key: don’t make brand connections that feel forced. This approach provides a powerful framework to guide your efforts, spark ideas for compelling messages and identify potential content gaps.
· Sell softly. Shake things up, it shouldn’t be all about you. Social expert Paul Chaney recommends the 70/20/10 rule. 70 percent of content should focus on your customers’ interest and needs, 20 percent should be other people’s content and 10 percent should be promotional.
· Think visually. Countless studies demonstrate that visually compelling posts win – they are more engaging than links and typically get more conversations and shares than other types of content. What’s the picture that conveys the story you want to tell?
· Give them a reason to follow or like you. Compelling content remains king and can be enhanced by providing exclusive content, products, events and offers. Don’t forget to ask for feedback and recognize your followers.
· Continuously measure. Track and record results within the calendar to determine what works and what doesn’t, and adjust your strategies accordingly.
Keeping these approaches in mind will make the social content and engagement planning process less daunting, more efficient and effective. What resolutions would you add to our list?
On October 18th, I-COM, The International Conference for Online Measurement held its 2012 Global Summit.
For the last year, I have had the great pleasure to represent WOMMA on I-COM’s board of directors and had the opportunity to collaborate with quite literally some of the best and brightest digital marketers and big data thought leaders that exist anywhere on the globe.
This group worked tirelessly to create a worthwhile conference framework, identify the right topics, build a structural framework for the conference, speaker presentations and breakout sessions, as well as, identify industry thought leaders that people would in some cases travel half way around the world to listen to, learn from and in some cases have a rousing debate with.
Here are some insights from the conference, in case your travel budget didn’t allow for a junket to Italy. There is a lot of content for you at this link, so surf through and pick out what you are most interested in.
Here are some high points and opinions that I’ve distilled from the preplanning work, the conference content and post conference discussions.
1. Don’t get overly enamored with Big Data. Yes, it will change how the best businesses plan their strategies but it isn’t a magic ball that will close all the knowledge gaps you have. Effective use of Big Data requires organizational alignment, special skills, tools and processes to utilize correctly. The old phrase junk in-junk out still applies, so be thoughtful in what and how you measure.
2. Dashboards aren’t the next killer app. Just like Big Data, dashboards are an efficiency tool that provide value when used effectively. Like one observer put it, “Dashboards are a lot like your highlighter in college. If you highlighted the wrong stuff in your text book, or everything in a chapter for that matter, you were sure to flunk your test. Be thoughtful in what you highlight” Just like Big Data, junk in, junk out.
3. Campaigns are transitory. Content is not. Marketers need to move their fixation from campaign optimization to content optimization.
4. Traditional activity metrics (impressions, likes, etc.) have a waning importance. With the growth and soon critical mass of ‘Do Not Track’ restrictions, marketers must move strategies and activities to ‘value metrics’, such as content and page value (and correlated KPI impact).
5. ‘ROI’ of social and in many cases, digital engagement is still very amorphous. Currently, the ‘R’ in ROI has no real, solid currency (as measured in business impact or Profit and Loss terms). Marketers need to apply more discipline to get to that before ‘The ROI of social’ has any real meaning or value.
6. Global, category standards are critical to ensuring acceptance. However, standards need not include a measure or a metric for the sake of applying one (there are a lot of measures out there that either make little sense or are impossible to track. Let’s not add to this clutter).
7. Continuing education is critical to adoption and value generation. Create, use, teach and enforce consistent, relevant vocabularies and approaches to the important general or universal categories.
8. Accept that evolution in this space is occurring so quickly that the focus should be on the process and best practices, not an end result.
Of course there was a lot more than this that occurred in Rome. Lots of detail and smart opinions were shared and discussed on topics such as mobile, attribution, multi-screen analytics, attribution and advertising effectiveness in a digital age just to name a few of the many meaty topics.
Spend some time with this information, you’ll be glad you did. Share it (or at least the eight points I’ve outlined above) with your peers and use it to continue to evolve and improve your own initiatives.
Each fall, ComBlu releases its annual “State of Online Branded Communities” report. Every summer, our researchers join about 250 communities and score them using a best practices scorecard. In addition, they make more qualitative judgments about member experience, engagement and how well the overall encounter matches the stated mission of the community. We usually analyze a sample across 15 different industries and to date have scored nine sectors for our 2012 study.
When teasing out some of our results, we typically focus on best practices and brands that are rock stars. But as the community and engagement disciplines mature, it is astounding how many bad practices stick around: worse than fly paper on a puddle of rubber cement.
Here are five of my “favorite” worst practices:
Worst Practice #1: Moderating comments, stories and photos before porting to the community site. Come on—aren’t we passed this? Best Buy leaves up toxic comments and lets the community organically defend or correct misinformation while Lowe’s requires all comments to be approved before they are posted. Sears requires all reviews to be vetted before they are posted. What decade are we in?
Worst Practice # 2: Asking for info at registration and promising to drive pertinent content based upon personal interests or needs and never delivering on the promise. P&Gs/Eukanuba community gets props for thinking about content customization but gets razzed for, in reality, sending everyone the same content.
Worst Practice #3: Related to the above egregious practice is leaving up hopelessly outdated content. When a brand doesn’t care enough to update a blog post or share some great new content with its members, it’s time to get out of the community business. American Express displayed this practice in a few of its community properties.
Worst practice #5: Asking the community members to submit their success stories with no criteria for selection or qualification minimizes engagement. While Unilever’s Slim Fast gets credit for thinking about using some great VOC integration, the execution falls short. The stories in this section of the community are highly edited and in corporate voice—not the natural, authentic voice of the customer you would expect in a customer community. The few stories presented rarely change and are formal case studies rather than VOC.
Unfortunately, the list of worst practices is long and more will be included in the full report, which should be published by early November. What worst practices have you noticed?
Considering that South by Southwest® (SXSW®) is the “premier destination for discovery,” why wouldn’t ComBlu be first in line to participate in this cultivating event? That’s why we have sprung into action and developed three intriguing proposals for this year’s event. From content supply chain methodology to ROI and decision journey considerations, ComBlu (we hope) is focusing on the right topics that will interest today’s content marketers. But, we can’t do it alone. This year the competition for speakers is fierce with more than 3,200 proposals submitted. Here’s where you come in: whether you are heading to Austin or not this March, we need you to vote for the session that would be most of interest.
Act fast – the voting process ends on August 31! Simply visit the highlighted link below and give your thumbs up for the session of your choice (don’t forget to register – it only takes a moment).
Today content is a critical component of enterprise value. It’s a key differentiator for brands that know how to source, create and distribute it effectively. Yet, few organizations apply the rigor of the supply chain discipline to the sourcing, creation, logistics, management, distribution and measurement of its content value. Companies that source raw materials for the manufacturing process apply granular discipline at every point in the supply chain and constantly seek ways to improve logistics and workflow, cut costs, find new competitive advantage, and get to market more effectively. This same approach applies to the content supply chain, which McKinsey estimates has a sunk cost of tens of millions of dollars in CPC, OEMs and technology companies. Panelists will discuss real world issues in putting a content supply chain methodology in place and give practical tips for each of the five basic steps of content supply chain:
For years, the major baking brands all optimized their content to rank high for the most frequently searched term: “Chocolate cake.” But the real opportunity lay in optimizing for a term that was “own-able”…like princess cake. Building the right content measurement system can help brands find their “princess cake.” This is what happens when brands move beyond “activity metrics” and develop “value metrics” that show how to calibrate and optimize their content marketing strategy.
Panelists, Kathy Baughman (ComBlu), George Palatine (Allstate), Ekaterina Walter (Intel) and Rishi Dave (Dell) will share the innovative ways they are approaching content ROI. They will share tips for:
• Developing content KPIs
• Determining which content contributes to sales and which is a drag on performance
• Building a meaningful content dashboard
Customers and prospects want different kinds of information at different points of the decision journey. The right mix of created, curated and social content differs at each point along the way. And, where consumers look for information and conversation differs at each point in the decision process. It all needs to be calibrated for different segments of decision makers and influencers.
Moderator Chris Silva (Altimeter Group) and panelists Ekaterina Walter (Intel), Joe Chernov (Eloqua) and Kathy Baughman (ComBlu), will help the audience understand how to deliver the right content at the right place at the right time. They will:
• Show how to map content along the decision journey
• Demonstrate the authority of different types of content along the decision journey
• Share how to gauge quality content for different points in the decision process
• Show how the content of three brands align along the decision journey
Thanks in advance for your support. Fingers crossed!!!
By now, everyone has seen this Infographic. Yes, it is complex and confusing and it should give you a headache.
The tools to manage and measure activity on a socially enabled web today are growing at substantial rate. Today, you can track and measure virtually any activity you would want to or deploy a tool to help you manage social campaigns of virtually any type. A tool or an app has been built to address almost anything you might want to do.
This explosion of social tool development, while innovative and necessary, does little to solve the bigger problems of social engagement, which essentially boil down to understanding why people act the way they act in a social brand encounter and then helping to facilitate the right engagement and then understanding in simple clear terms the value and outcome of that encounter. That’s the bad news. The good news is this will change.
If you follow any innovation curve in virtually any industry, things tend to get harder and more complex before they get simpler and easier. Why? Because, during the early phases of innovation, the processes and rules and infrastructure that will later support new inventions are getting built right along with what’s being invented. Solving any one problem on its own is the goal. Later, problems get grouped together and a new smarter solution addresses them all.
Take the Model T automobile for example. Building the car on a mass scale was one thing. Tough enough to be sure, but what about manufacturing and distributing replacement parts as those cars began to break down? Sourcing, distributing and stocking virtually every part on the car separately was likely a daunting, painful and expensive exercise at the outset, for the supplier and the consumer.
In the end, things improved. They had to for the fledgling automotive industry to remain viable. All the confusion, competing systems and supply chain gaps needed to be streamlined and refined and new smarter and more innovative solutions and options were layered on based on understanding and meeting customer needs.
Innovators moved from activity metrics (which parts are needed) to value metrics (when to make and distribute them so that inventories matched demand) as the industry evolved.
Making sure that the customer could get the parts they needed when they needed it AFTER they purchased the vehicle helped to ensure that that customer would buy another auto from that manufacturer rather than a competitor’s product.
Social Marketing today is going through the same innovation phase as the early auto industry (and every other one for that matter). It will get better. For the industry to survive and remain relevant to users, it has to! The focus will begin to move away from the tools and the activity to the experience and the value of the relationship we deliver.
As this innovation occurs over the next few years, look for consolidation to speed up and for tools become more expansive, robust…and simpler. Tomorrow’s Infographic will look drastically different than the one at the beginning of this post. It will be less about the tools available and more about content, relationship triggers and the decision journey. That’s what tomorrow’s tools will help to manage-relationships and decision journeys, not just data.
Remember, keep your eye on the prize of understanding what is driving your value metrics; what is moving your constituents through the decision process and what compels them to remain involved with your brand. The tools which help you manage your social marketing initiatives will get better, be more intuitive and easier to use, I guarantee it.
Knowing this, social marketing practitioners and their business peers need to start focusing hard on what makes good relationships work. You must now begin the process of blurring the lines between all of your brand experience channels and optimizing those channels for relevance and value.
Get ready, as the next few years will bring marketing innovation and opportunities you have never imagined were possible.