Some things amaze me, like this year’s social media and content marketing predictions list. What does one sent email and two tweets equal? Over 100 predictions from 60+ of the best and the brightest in marketing, content marketing, custom publishing and social media. No kidding! Just check out this list below.
…and just to be fair, we have listed the predictions by order of submission. Congrats to Seth Godin for being Quick Draw McGraw. For those of you who want to add your two cents, please do so in the comments.
Here are some of the key trends I found while reading through our expert predictions:
- Video will be big in 2010
- Mobile, Mobile, Mobile
- More companies will need to outsource content to expert publishers
- Quality content trumps frequent crappy content
- Don’t say it – more offline content in 2010???
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What is your prediction for how brand marketers will create and distribute their own content in 2010?
- In about six months, the economy is going to be noticeably better, and folks that put in the time and energy to build a foundation over the last two years online will be rewarded, while the latecomers will merely whine.
- A lot of people (who were only wasting time at work, not investing in an asset) will lose interest in Twitter as the next shiny thing comes along.
Look for instant content. With shoot-and-upload video getting easier and easier, everyone’s going to jump onto YouTube. The video rush of the last few years will look like a trickle.
That doesn’t mean the content won’t be awful – most of it will be. But I’m hoping a new video explosion will also drive some great new creative stuff, too.
More video, especially in B2B, as marketers realize that live video podcasts and other video formats are not difficult to do and can communicate a compelling message to help you get found by more prospects.
A few bold brands have recently dipped their toe in the water with Augmented Reality and I think this is a hugely exciting area that is ripe for further exploration.
I believe that the next “big thing” will be a greater sense of personalization and location-based offerings. We’re starting to see this for example in Foursquare (about which I could talk about non-stop until tomorrow!)
For example, I’d checked in to a well known restaurant chain in Soho, London on Foursquare and upon checking in, an offer came up on screen for another local restaurant chain. In the offer, it said that when you had checked in to the restaurant twice and become Mayor of that particular restaurant, you’re entitled to a 2 for 1 meal! You’d simply have to take your phone and a friend in with you, show them that you’re Mayor and your friend eats free!
To me that’s utterly mind blowing.
The best marketers/brands will generate great ideas, and create well told stories that are told across a variety of media channels. Digital will serve as the enabler that links these ideas and stories together.
The reality is that the vast majority of brands and marketers will continue to spam content and distribute rubbish via a scattergun approach.
I think more will become aware that making content highly portable is the key to engaging an ever-more-mobile audience. Whether it’s implementing RSS and mobile feeds on a website, funneling brand messages to social networks, etc., I think more will start to see the power of content distribution and customer engagement through that content. 2009 was about learning social media. 2010 will be about figuring out how to use it well.
There’ll be more & more Social Media and content strategies at the hyper-local level; citizen consumers interested in their neighborhood are already keen to ask Google what they’ve seen in their preferred shop or street. There’ll be a greater “loop” between daily discoveries & online journey. Brand marketers will try to reach their consumers in this new interactive dimension
I think 2010 is the year brand marketers figure out that interrupting their way into people’s lives through advertisements just does not work anymore as we consumers are sick-and-tired of being marketed to and are getting better-and-better at blocking the interruptions out (i.e. DVR, iPod, CallerID, spam protection). They will start creating remarkable content that spreads via social media, draws in links from other content creators, and ranks in Google’s search engine.
The phrase “social media” will soon be considered obsolete as more and more organizations publish online content. Online video will emerge as the most important tool for marketers in 2010.
They will (in 2010) increasingly begin moving toward providing personalized, location-aware, device-independent content (content that can be formatted on-the-fly for whatever device the user needs/wants to use – iPhone, laptop, print, etc.) This move will be based on the need to deliver the right content to the right prospects at the right time in the right format and language. Consumer expectations will drive the change. User expectations have changed and consumers are no longer willing to settle for mediocre experiences. Today, they expect all content to be accessible, consumable, and shareable – no excuses.
When you consider approximately 16% of the Fortune 500 have a public-facing blog, 28% of those blogs link to Twitter accounts, and 17% of the companies use blogs, Twitter, and Facebook to engage (or in many cases, broadcast only) with their customers, those are telling statistics.
Looking back at the 2009 predictions published in this space last year, I think we have a long way to go. Where’s the value in predicting how brand marketers will create and distribute content when the Fortune 500 (or the Inc. 500) aren’t making significant strides as a group? That’s where the focus should be.
Marketers will get more feisty and opinionated in their content to build trust with their best prospects and clients. I’ve tried it…and it works!
The rise of private media channels.
As more and more people find web video to be valuable and entertaining, web video for corporate story telling will continue to expand. While many public sites, such as youtube.com have gained huge popularity, they are not always the best vehicles for business-based communication. The threat of viruses, competitive advertising and lack of quality control are reasons why more companies will steer away from public media channels and moving towards private channels, while committing internal resources to produce quality content quickly.
With the low price and technology and easy to use technology anyone can assemble a HD-broadcast quality studio. Get your customers, executives and product champions in front of the camera to tell their story – how you’ve solved people’s problems, why your solution is unique and what value you bring to the table. In 2010 publishing your videos on a private media channel can be the most effective way to reach your target audience.
The computer software industry (outside of a few, isolated cases) has gotten extremely cost-competitive, even as the features customers demand increase in quantity and complexity.
I think in the coming year, the tide will start to shift as these organizations need to reassess where they can achieve sustainable revenue. As software packages get both deeper and wider and almost no customer uses, or even wants to know about every feature, the information about the product (specific feature information, targeted training, tutorials, etc.) will actually become the margin potential product.
I think that by 2015, we’ll see software markets where the software tools themselves are developed at near cost-recovery and the user training will be the exciting growth opportunity product line.
…the ultimate in content marketing. Market the content.
I’m not sure how we (as a group) will actually do it but I can say what I think we need to do in 2010 and beyond.
First, let me differentiate between B2B brand marketers and consumer brand marketers – these are very different worlds with very different customers and stakeholders.
Also, we need to differentiate between agency side and corporate side.
So, four groups of brand marketers – and we’re all on the hot seat! As we should be…
In the consumer world, I believe agency-side brand marketers need to practice what they preach and partner with potential clients to launch their own line of branded products – see the precedent here.
I think brand marketers on the agency side will have to put skin in the game to demonstrate their value. The real ROI is always sales first; brand equity, like seventh.
On the corporate side, brand marketers will need to continue the trend toward user-generated content – I know, I know; that’s not their own content but what I mean is that marketers will have to create content that solicits / engages consumers to respond and respond often.
One idea could be to open up product development to consumers in a more holistic way – find ways to manufacture and distribute products that have direct consumer input. Among the challenges here will be manufacturing and distribution because we’re talking about customized products – but in much the same way that music purchases are now customized by individual song (rather than having to buy the whole album), consumer products companies will have to at least address this issue.
B2B brand marketers have to become much better storytellers. No more bullets in collateral materials and on Web sites. Content has to be about customer successes and, moreso, about customer stories – which sometimes include failures on the way to success.
Stories are drama – point A to point B – where something happens in between – lesson learned, challenge overcome, triumph over struggle. In B2B brand marketing, the stories that demonstrate the value of relationships always win the day. Think about it – people do business with friends, not products. So, the content has to include a new understanding of what the brand is that your selling – it’s not just the product or service. You’re selling your product or service’s ability to help customers write and tell their own next story. If we’re doing our job well, we’ll be included in the story because we’ll write ourselves in and have our customers tell it.
I think a lot will be enamored with the idea of crowdsourcing. They’ll see it as a way to engage consumers and generate some publicity. But as more and more brands try this, savvy consumers will see that without proper curation there isn’t much ‘there’ there.
Crowdsourcing, when used properly, can be compelling. Smart brands will utilize the concept to identify true experts, rather than hoping that 1000 entries produces one or two good pieces.
Content will be more widely dispersed, especially across mobile platforms as phones are getting smarter. We’ll see more mobile optimized sites, but we’ll also hopefully see a bigger emphasis on Augmented Reality, especially as it creates opportunities for brands to port their product availability to the screens of cell phones, giving consumers the ability to find and buy products that they are interested in from wherever they are.
Brand marketers will more actively leverage mobile applications (and on various platforms including iPhone, Android and BlackBerry), creating content specific and exclusive to this channel.
Brands will finally come to terms with the fact that their own content is usually not as compelling as the content already produced, collected, and shared by their consumers. It’s time for brands to evolve from producers and distributors to collectors and curators.
We’re moving into an age of transparency. Brand marketers that embrace this will have the chance to improve satisfaction, service and loyalty. Others who don’t may find themselves falling out of favor, and fast.
The last decade was all about acquisition. The next one, for the smarter marketers, will be all about retention. An open, transparent approach will help you forge closer bonds with consumers and customers. A closed, head-in-the-sand approach will only cause small problems to become much more troublesome.
No brand is immune, no matter how big or small. Transparency FTW!
A global shortage of electricity will require content producers to distribute content in wheel barrows and deliver content from door to door!
More content, or at least real engagement as a result of content, will find its way offline – awareness of the content will grow online as search and social networking continues to expand, but smart marketers will start finding more ways to drive prospects offline to consume content in live events and local networks.
Brand marketers will move budget dollars away from classic campaigns and into people that can create killer content.
This will create a new market for exceptional writers, videographers, illustrators, cartoonists, storytellers, singers, musicians and game developers. Maybe even dancers and yodelers. Basically, anyone that has the creativity to capture and charm an audience.
In the B2B world, it’s going to require “simplicity on the other side of complexity.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes.
What I mean is that marketers are going to have to work hard to distill product and service information (features and benefits, competitive positioning, value propositions, etc.) into easily consumed, and quickly digested morsels. I’m not referring to slogans or tag lines. Marketers have moved beyond sales messages to delivering relevant and useful information. As the sheer volume of this information grows exponentially, marketers must learn to communicate to target prospects not only in a meaningful, concise way; but also using multimedia to engage more of the targets’ senses. To teach and to entertain simultaneously.
In 2010 we’ll see social media — Facebook, Twitter, blogs — being used for all sorts of products, from software to shampoo and from Blu-Ray players to blue jeans, as ordinary consumers become more comfortable interacting with companies on the web.
Content strategists — the people who can process information from all over the enterprise (and from customers) and repackage it for different audiences — will gain greater prominence.
We’ll see increased demand from the C-level suite for a return on investment from social-media marketing. And, I hope, a consensus will start to emerge about the best ways for measuring ROI.
I predict there will be a clear division between quality customized content and content created in a factory-like fashion. Just like junk mail began to dilute our mail system, poorly created content will become a nuisance. If you are looking to protect and market your brand, focus on engaging your customers with content that will build trust and the relationship your brand seeks.
“I believe that more brand marketers will come to understand that content is only valuable if it is deeply rooted in their expertise. They will stop creating “bait and switch” content and instead empower content that is free, extraordinarily valuable and not “back to me – yakkity yak content.”
Smart marketers will continue to differentiate themselves and their brands through increased credibility.
The number one strategy for increased credibility is to write the book in your business.
Smart Marketers will be the ones who understand and use Twitter and Facebook with hyperlinks to pull potential clients to their websites and blogs.
Smart Marketers will understand the power of real conversations via Twitter and Facebook and use these as communication tools, not just P. R. machines.
Smart Marketers will insist that their Marketing Messages are using Social Media, Traditional websites, and Traditional Media in a cross-platform culture that includes everything from SmartPhones to HDTV screens.
I think brand marketers have focused on getting the word out via social media a lot this year – next year will be the year they look INTERNALLY to get the employee base to help them spread the word.
Enterprise Social tools will become more mainstream next year with folks like IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and a host of smaller players like Yammer, SocialCast and SocialText allowing for rich interaction and immediate attention from your internal army!
I believe brands will see more of the potential with user-generated content. Beyond allowing users/participants/members to post comments, I think successful brands will cultivate strong ties with their most visible, enthusiastic loyalists and channel those with the strongest contributions a type of elevated presence. Call them feature contributors, but I think it’s possible for a genuine personal affinity to lead to semi-branded personality roles for those with the most interest in engaging relevant consumer audiences with interested, in-tune brands. These persons become the conduit, drawing in other voices with their approachable, compelling presence.
2010 will be the year of the listening to the customers needs. Advertising sales people versed in listening will get the lions share of the business based on meeting the needs of the customer (very few know how to listen). Marketers will need to listen to their customers to figure out how they should interact with them during the coming year. Consumer companies do extensive research to find out their customers needs. Why don’t more B2B companies take the same advice? If you are in the B2B market and have a favorite magazine you need to run print ads to reach the whole market (most magazines only reach half their readership by email), digital programs to produce sales leads, custom programs to target market potential customers and social media to help out in discussion forums.
Most brand marketers will continue to create mass amounts of expensive content for their generic targets. Of which, majority of audiences will not have the time or patience to filter through it.
The smart marketers will create minimal amounts of highly targeted content to relevant audiences. Utilizing the right amount of resource to maximize returns.
Brand marketers follow the customers, they don’t lead them. So the question is: How will people be exchanging content in 2010?
Much the same way as in 2009. I do think brand marketers will begin to rediscover the power of sophisticated email list management. Email’s popularity is stable, particularly among decision-makers. Thanks to better spam filtration, it is increasingly low-noise. Metrics are easy to manage, and lists can be very granular. Email dovetails well with Twitter and other existing social media channels. Use these tools to engage people, and point them to the list.
We will see more people offering information products next year. Again, email is a good channel for this. So are eBooks.
I think online communities will come of age in 2010. Brand marketers will create compelling micro-content to seed these communities, then run contests to invite consumers to interpret their brand, create their own content. I also see brand marketers investing in communities that are built around a bigger social object: a lifestyle, cause or passion.
I predict “Recycled Marketing” will be the hottest thing in 2010. Brand Marketers and their clients, for the first time in marketing history, can actually make a return on a marketing investment with every content marketing budget. By building a sensible content marketing publishing schedule, that not only markets products and services, content is created that becomes intellectual property that can be bought and sold. A marketing budget this year can now reduce the budget next year, if not pay for it in its entirety, all the while garnering authority and brand leadership in any industry. Welcome to Recycled Marketing 2010! – The ultimate in Gr$$n Marketing.
Social media channels are going to continue to be pervasive for brand marketers. Sites such as twitter, facebook, youtube, and linkedin will keep growing. We are also going to see a strong push towards mobile marketing and geo-targeting, something that we are already starting to see twitter integrate and something that foursquare has already been doing. Desired advertising or marketing is something that I think is also going to become more popular. In other words I will receive some sort of content from a brand based on something I say or do. The content I receive is going to be more relevant and more targeted based on my actions.
I think we will also see more community development amongst brands, both internally and externally, meaning consumer facing. Right now brands are struggling with a fragmented approach to content creation and distribution. Brand marketers are going to realize that their website is no longer a single URL but a collection of sites and URLs. This means that you can have your forum discussions on sites such as Facebook while your blog exists on the main corporate site. Content is going to get a lot more social.
Internal collaboration creation communities can act as sources for content creation and distribution to external communities. 2010 should be an interesting year.
Its my sentiment that in 2010, brand and business leaders, rather than just marketers, will start paying more attention to content. Strategically they will consider investing in and employing effort and resources into building that brand’s very own content management system. A silo if you will, of content that is sourced from various divisions and filtered to internal and external publishing platforms required or selected by various departments, one of them, being marketing.
In a word, “personally.” Readers are going in different directions now. Some are on their netbooks, others are on the Kindle and some are on mobile. Brand marketers will have to look at each of these platforms and ask if their readers are on them. If so, they’ll need to reach readers where they are.
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Creating seamless brand experiences will be the game to win. Noise will get louder and louder, giving brands no choice but to fragment themselves into more mediums. This will make the providing consistent and rich experiences crucial for every brand.
Brand marketers will continue to struggle with aligning and integrating online and offline brand experiences, but the few that master this skill be the big winners.
Brand marketers will focus less on creating original content and will seek out subject area experts (formerly known as publishers) to produce content on their behalf.
Content syndication via affiliates and partners will increase, with the expectation that partners down the chain will have greater social connectivity to potential new customers.
As it becomes less practical to spend for “air cover” branding, brand marketers will insist on pay-per-lead and pay-per-conversion models, with the brand message attached to discrete transactions. In a sense, branding becomes more transactional.
Here’s what I think will happen in 2010 — the good, bad and the ugly:
The good: As the economy continues to slowly recover, consumers are going to reward those brand marketers who have been sharing content/expertise without any strings attached during the recession. Validation for content marketing.
The bad: Many brand marketers who are just entering the content marketing arena will do so with the old broadcast mentality. Rather than just talk — they will shout. And turn off their potential audience.
The ugly: Content marketing isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. But many CFOs and other leaders (including impatient business owners) will prematurely pull the plug on their content marketing efforts because the results are not instantaneous. The tragedy of this is that for many of them, they were probably on the cusp of getting the traction they needed to demonstrate results.
2010 will be the year that content marketers will upgrade from engagement to experience. Marketers whose content draws people into an experience will stand out. 2010 will become the year of experiential marketing.
Brands who design content strategies and campaigns around bringing their audience into an experience will enjoy more brand loyalty and more positive actions. Brands such as Ford, Guinness, Red Bull and Google have demonstrated their ability to create content experiences that people share with other people. A content experience is one where people participate in the content. They experience the content through interaction with a brand. Smaller brands who take notice will become creative designers of content experiences and will take the lead over their competitors who are asleep at the wheel in 2010.
More and more companies’ marketing org charts will now include positions for people responsible for managing the creation and deployment of content as a critical element of their marketing designed to drive leads and sales.
I believe this trend will start with larger enterprises, followed soon after by mid-sized companies.
Both large and mid-sized companies will also choose to outsource some of their content creation to freelancers, contractors or content creation companies.
Smaller companies with smaller marketing budgets will be less likely to add staff and will be more likely to outsource their content creation needs.
The question says it all. Brand marketers will continue to embrace the premise of direct content distribution, end-running traditional intermediaries (including the media and public relations counsel). Brands will begin tearing down the internal silos of “social media” and “PR” and “corporate communications” and “CRM” and recognize that each of those are just facets of a unified consumer contact strategy. Thus, we’ll start to see wise brands integrate content creation and distribution. The email marketing team and the social media team and the PR team will begin to coalesce. This will reduce consumer confusion, and enhance content subscription/syndication/digestion rates.
Online content strategy will enter the mainstream with print and other traditional media continuing their downward spiral. In other words, more companies will understand the value and effectiveness of content: creating and distributing it, but also leveraging it. How will brand marketers do it in 2010? By having a presence in the blogosphere, in social networking, in local search and everywhere there customers and potential customers are online. But simply having a presence, of course, will not be enough. They will need to be active participants, and need to be perceived as an authentic resource. They then need to capitalize on this presence by simply being EVERYWHERE at ALL TIMES. They will leverage this presence by having contests, special events, promotions and other activities that will give them more “face time” with their customers.
As traditional publishers continue to suffer, they’ll have to cut costs even further. Increasingly they’ll turn to inexperienced writers, content mills and offshore text factories to fill their publications and Web sites.
That leaves a gap that sophisticated brand marketers can fill.
The smartest marketers will resist the drive toward low-cost content and instead compete for attention with quality — snatching up talented journalists, Web producers and others being driving out of the business.
We’ll soon see that in large numbers of B2B segments the very best content — the thoughtful, weighty, important material that drives conversations in an industry — is coming from brands, not publishers.
I think many will use a variety of methods to get their own content out there. I would caution against putting all efforts in one “basket,” since we see how quickly the SM flavor of the month can come and go.
There is still a place for marketers to get their information out via mainstream media through good ole PR. It brings with it the bonus of credibility that is still lacking on many SM vehicles.
More marketers will embrace e-nurturing and develop content messaging that can be delivered incrementally over a period of time to match the buyer’s educational needs.
This approach has worked extremely well for companies marketing complex, higher price tag solutions and considered purchases and it is proving to be just as effective for other marketers. Too many marketers are still sending “one and done” messages. Even custom content will fail if it doesn’t speak to the educational process of the buyer.
I actually think a few will backtrack. Everyone was busy rushing in 2009 to explore Social Networking just to get on the bandwagon, without really deciding if “tweeting” or certain other presences were really what they needed. I think they’ll step back and determine if that’s actually the best use of their content.
I think the ability to backlink to outlets like Digg (as just one example) is going to make marketing and brand managers better aware of the need for custom content in general and more specifically for various trade and consumer materials. I’m talking about stories that read like real journalism, not just self-promoting, that help them stand out as true experts in their field. To that end, they should consider finding real experts in providing those stories; i.e., experienced health writers for health materials (and not necessarily doctors or nurses–it depends on their audience).
I can also see an increasing need for downloadable reports, brochures, and free giveaways: e.g., click here to get your copy of “10 Ways to De-Stress This Holiday Season!” or “A Report on the Viability of Moving Your Office From Windows to Mac”. Such items both help the company capture data and (again) seem like an expert in the field, or someone concerned about its audience.
I hope we see an increase in certain web enhancements, without getting crazed with all the razzmatazz a website can do via Flash or whatever. Example: I know a lawyer’s office whose landing page featured a roaring lion, though the guy’s name wasn’t lion (or Leo or anything similar) and he didn’t represent a zoo. Why? On the other hand, I’ve still seen very few companies take advantage of interactive options, like the interactive quizzes.
My prediction is that online video will continue to grow as more marketers recognize its growth potential and attempt to leverage it. With that said, the success of those efforts is questionable. Until marketers embrace engagement marketing rather than interruption marketing and truly add value and build relationships by speaking with consumers rather than speaking at them, social media and content marketing efforts will continue to be popular but not deliver the big returns companies hope for. Furthermore, the success of social media and content marketing comes from transparency and a willingness to give up control — two things that executives have yet to buy into. I expect 2010 to be filled with more of the same conversations and struggles between marketers and the individuals in the C-suites. We can’t give up trying to bring those execs over to our side though!
Marketers will realize the importance of nurturing their leads across the entirety of the buying process. In 2010, nurturing won’t just be about delivering relevant content, but about creating and employing content that helps prospects build momentum with each interaction. Marketers will need to better integrate, use and personalize content to gain long-term traction with prospects. This means the adoption of a “publisher” mindset. And it means publishing content where your buyers will find it and then seek out the company to learn more.
Effective marketing is not just about “touching” your prospects consistently, but in motivating them to take actions greater than passively reading the content provided. Through the strategic planning and execution of progressive, online interactions, marketers will generate more qualified opportunities that will be accepted, pursued and won by sales teams.
I think that people are sick and tired of being sold “at”. Consumers are intelligent and realize that advertisers tell them exactly what they want to hear! Playing the traditional marketing game is no longer enough to ensure sales. Competition is rife in most industries, and the provision of relevant information is what will ultimately set businesses apart from one another. When faced with a number of companies offering similar services, I believe that savvy consumers will choose ethical, socially responsible and honest companies that empower their clients to make informed purchasing decisions.
Organizations will become more strategic in their use of content marketing for both acquisition (leads) and retention (loyalty). Content marketing must be integrated with brand, Website, search marketing and social media strategies to achieve its full potential. As a result, organizations will seek content creators who have a strong grasp of marketing strategy, and exceptional creative and technical copywriting capabilities.
2010 will be the year Social Media Optimization becomes a formalized program in addition to the content creation and distribution strategies. Businesses will realize the value in becoming a bona fide media property in addition to their core business products and services.
Prospects, customers, and stakeholders, whether they’re b2c or b2b, use search to unearth information that helps them navigate the landscape of options. This content leads to decisions. Depending on what they uncover determines whether or not we’re even part of the decision making cycle. And, the role of search is expanding beyond Google, Bing and Yahoo. Search behavior is transpiring directly within social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blog search. Social Media Optimization (SMO) increases the findability of customer content we create to aid customers in their discovery process. Our content becomes beacons to represent our brand and value proposition where our direct voice may be absent. This is why businesses must also become media properties. Creating rich, informative, creative, and engaging content is critical for 2010 and along with SMO, must be budgeted in terms of time, money, and resources for the new year.
Smart B2B marketers know they can no longer ignore the fact that prospects are in control of the buying cycle. Recognizing the need to keep prospects engaged over many months, marketers will create and distribute valuable information that gets passed along.
While e-newsletters will continue playing a critical role in outbound marketing, they will feature more magazine-style articles that make no mention of the company’s offerings. And they will point readers to microsites or “content centers” organized around topics of interest that align with buyer personas and buying stages, rather than products and services. Plus, marketers will produce ebooks, blog posts, articles, videos, and podcasts that get syndicated using networks and tools including LinkedIn, YouTube, Scribd, and Twitter. Marketers that do this right will establish themselves as trusted advisors who remain top of mind as prospects develop their short lists.
Marketers will begin — at least should begin — to put greater innovation emphasis on being relevant and engaging with content delivered via flesh-and-blood channels — the sales force, customer service, dealers and distributors, etc.
As content marketers we tend to fixate on other content types — value-adding articles, white papers and e-books; social media postings and dialogue. Still, some of the most critical content for building brand and business is that which gets lumped into the easy-to-neglect category of “collateral.”
The days when it was good enough to throw a brochure and some case studies in an envelope and consider that you’ve done an effective job of following up with a customer or prospect are over.
With Web 2.0 thinking and technology, there’s opportunity for bringing customization, engagement and measurement to these communications. And, as recipients click through personalized content collections – online experiences tailored to their needs and interests, vs. off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all print pieces – marketers can measure and continuously learn from their interactions.
In 2010 content marketing will continue to gain popularity, becoming something marketers see as a necessity as they place more emphasis on building relationships with customers. The lines between marketing and publishing will continue to blur. Branded content and microsites will become increasingly common and will have more smart phone-compatible versions.
I think we’ll also see content marketing become more interactive. Online magazines will begin to move away from flipbooks and toward Adobe AIR and other platforms that enhance readability and interactivity. Print and digital will combine as companies with higher budgets use technology that activates online videos when a print piece is held up to a Web cam.
In 2010, content marketing will move from “novel” to “normal”. Marketers who go the extra mile to find out precisely how their customers use content (and the types of content they consider most useful) then use that information to drive content creation and distribution will see more success than those who don’t.
For example, understanding whether customers find non-participatory forms of content (e.g., white papers, podcasts, webinars) more valuable or trustworthy than participatory content (e.g., asking questions on Twitter, seeking advice from friends/colleagues on Facebook/LinkedIn, interacting with company bloggers) – or vice-versa – when making a purchasing decision goes a long way in determining how companies can spend marketing dollars most beneficially. And in 2010, maximizing ROI will still be an overriding consideration for marketers.
Three predictions for 2010:
(1) Turning Social Networks Outside-In
The 2009 holiday season will be a turning point — as informal sharing and tweeting about great deals by users provides a big clue for marketing into social networks.
Marketers will finally recognize that the key to reaching users within social networks is not about what you do inside the social network, rather it’s about what you do outside that then gets credibly and enthusiastically taken into the social network by the users.
Look for offers, promotions, and contests that are intrinsically group-oriented to originate outside of the social network and be promoted with high credibility by users inside the network. Check out Groupon for the large group model and Blabberbug for the start of a small group approach.
(2) From FLO TV to YO TV
Another holiday season trigger — look for FLO TV and their cute little handheld wireless TV to spark interest in mobile video from a new perspective — high quality programming in a small format mobile LCD TV. And then later on in 2010, look for a new generation of bloggers and vloggers to do to cable programming what Matt Drudge did to the New York Times – this will be all about taking social media video “live AND on location”.
(3) Hyperlocal Content Pays Enough to Explode @$4 CPH
We’re seeing successively more granular local content become successful. Check out the number of reporter-bloggers on your favorite city edition of the Examiner for a first clue. Now combine this with the likelihood that hyperlocal reporter-bloggers can make a six figure income (per study by Jeff Jarvis, director of the interactive-journalism program at the City University of New York) — and the stage is set for hyperlocal content to go big this year.
The new benchmark number is $4 CPH — $4 in annual income for the hyperlocal reporter-blogger per head in the population they reach. How many folks live in your town or city — do the math.
Because of Google new content and social media policies, Brand Marketers will focus on the creation of more quality content and the content creation market will rise according with those needs.
Brand marketers will be more focused on content distribution via online platforms which produce more positive social ratings, such as Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc.
Brand marketers will begin outsourcing more of their content creation to trusted vendor/partners as the need for content grows with all the available media channels.
Messaging will continue to be integrated: print with PURLS, email with share-to-social features, text short codes for consumers to request information on demand, will all be part of mix in 2010 – 2011.
Marketers (and their CEOs) will realize that it’s the message, not just the media that’s important. We’ve gotten so caught up in the latest media gizmo, whether it is Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. that many marketers have forgotten that unless we have something interesting and relevant to say to our audiences, no one will care anyway!
The average marketer will continue on a downward trajectory toward process, and away from big ideas. The leaders, however, will differentiate themselves by caring less about “singles and doubles,” like open rates and page ranks, and more about “home runs” that can change the game. They will be the ones who use content to carry big ideas and to create clever, memorable and useful content that gets read, remembered, shared, and appreciated.
The year 2010 will be a growth year in Content Marketing awareness and an indication of the growing acceptance of the approach in the coming year will be an increase in the predicted daily searches for the specific term “content marketing.”
Fundamental to content marketing taking hold as a sought after marketing strategy will be increased output of case studies bearing real world examples of content marketing initiatives leading to measurable return-on-objectives and return-on-investment.
Small businesses, in particular, will be leading adapters of content marketing as they realize that the time and money invested levels the competitive playing field and leads to significantly improved conversion rates.
Under the umbrella of Content Marketing, practitioners will be introduced to new concepts, such as Transmedia Storytelling, as the basis of a content strategy. Specifically, content strategies will increasingly be designed to reach audiences and community members anywhere, anytime and on any device, with different elements of the brand story tailored to the device.
Through concepts such as Transmedia Storytelling, content strategies will drive social media and social networking strategies by providing engaging content that inspires devotion to the brand. Don’t be surprised to see content marketing strategies, in this context, to increasingly take their cues from both the Hollywood and the gaming industries.
There will be increased acceptance by marketers, business owners, etc., that the specialized services, skills and knowledge base of experienced content marketing agencies or firms can be utilized and retained on the same basis that traditional marketing, advertising and PR services have been retained. Moving forward, content strategies will be planned and implemented based upon the utilization of both internal and external resources, dictated by the human bandwidth and financial realities of the marketer.
Ultimately, in the grand scheme of things, what we’ll see is a blossoming of creativity in the coming year as marketers-turned-publishers compete for audience attention with their own custom content that is both entertaining, engaging and resourceful.
- 2010 will be the year that content goes mobile. Having a mobile strategy will no longer be a nice to have, but a requirement for media brands and custom content. The success of the iPhone and Kindle has shown that there is an appetite for content to be read in a “third place” away from both home and office.
- More and more pure play online companies will discover multi-channel media and marketing paired with content drives customer engagement. Look for more online retailers to create “magalogs” pairing content and offers in an appealing environment using both print and digital formats.
- Broadcasters (network and cable) will create more integrated online custom and advertising programs for the so called “second screen”. According to Reuters, Nielsen’s research shows that “57 percent of TV viewers in the U.S. who have Internet access use both mediums at the same time at least once a month. That translates to more than 128 million U.S. consumers.” This opens the door to endless ties in for deeper content, social media connections and games/contests to extend a marketing campaign.
I think what’s important when looking at the next 12 months is what is actually feasible? Not necessarily hyperbolic five-year long term stuff, but what is actually do-able. In no particular order look for the following to happen in some shape or form.
- Marketers and developers are starting to realize that the consumer cannot be everywhere at once, nor can they. Consumers are creatures of habit, creatures of ease of use and simplicity-so there will be more of an effort to push out applications that speak to that-Think video in as many formats as possible but platform agnostic.
- Data aggregation will continue to evolve to levels that will supposedly simplify our lives, but it won’t.
- Google will further align and build its imminent dominance of social media through acquisitions and partnerships.
- Look for four things to grow faster than anything that you have previously witnessed in the short lifespan of the web and technology in general. You already see things changing rapidly in these 4 categories, but look for it to continue.
- Mobile Social
Mobile apps (iPhone, Droid, Berry) will become a popular add-on and extension for celebrities and companies. Though the apps will require specialized development, we are already beginning to see content collected by these brands from their existing channels via RSS, and then adding a “premium” or app-only content.
There will be a huge increase in the use of mobile proximity marketing.
- 42+ Social Media and Content Marketing Predictions 2009
- 42 Social Media Marketing Tools
- The Content Marketing Playbook – 42 Ways to Connect with Consumers
- Custom Publishing University
- How to Attract and Retain Customers with Content – Complimentary White Paper