We all have influence. A recommendation from a friend or a third-party expert has always been worth more than a marketing message from the brand itself, and is more likely to convince you to take action and buy the product. Since this personal influence has such a high value, it only makes sense that marketers start paying for it.
This week’s reading list looks at four articles on the state of influencer marketing today, and how brands (including your own personal brand) can benefit from it.
Speed to scale, metrics, and platform. These are the the three things highlighted in this AdWeek article that will determine your success in influencer marketing. Conceptually, it’s brief, and it’s unashamedly written by a platform vendor. But, nonetheless, it lays out a good business model and justification for reducing the friction in pulling off an influencer marketing campaign.
This article highlights Collectively, one a of a handful of companies trying to monetize the influencer marketing space. While most brand influencer campaigns focus on content producers with the most followers, Collectively believes that “a smaller community—say, an influencer with 10,000 followers [in a niche area]—is still always greater than a conversation with someone who has 5 million followers.”
This fantastic article from Harvard Business Review does a great job of outlining the new realities of branding in our social age, identifying key brands that are doing it well, some through influencer marketing, and then laying out broad steps for brands to address the new landscape. The underlying argument for this switch in branding and marketing is the realization that,
“…while companies have put their faith in branded content for the past decade, brute empirical evidence is now forcing them to reconsider. In YouTube or Instagram rankings of channels by number of subscribers, corporate brands barely appear. Instead you’ll find entertainers you’ve never heard of, appearing as if from nowhere…”
They highlight UnderArmour and Chipotle, among others, as brands that are adapting to the new way of marketing, and specifically, they look at “crowdcultures” as distinct audiences to target and engage, using influencers to be their market ambassadors.
Lastly, on a more personal level, here are nine insights on how you yourself can be more influential. It’s highly useful to anyone in sales and marketing (and FYI, Dan Pink says everyone is in sales). Once you really try and implement these seemingly basic tips, you will realize the art of persuasion, and how difficult it can actually be.
This week, we look at content marketing, what makes for good content, and why so much of it sucks.
I’ve recently discovered Help Scout, and besides their excellent help desk SaaS, I have been very impressed with their own marketing content on their blog. They’ve written out 25 Principles That Power Their Blog, and while it reads like a checklist of reminders and encouragement, what it really boils down to is what we focus on here at BuzzShift: know your customer.
The thing we ask here the most before we produce any video, visual, or text is, “who is the audience that we want to see this, and will this provide any meaningful value to them?” The first handful of principles in Help Scout’s blog post all focus on the “why” and the “what.” As you scroll down the list, you get to more tactical, but still very relevant, things you need to consider as you produce your own blog pieces and content. While I would have organized the post a little differently, the fact is that these are some very powerful principles for creating content, and their strategy is, overall, very sound.
On media content today:
This is a very compelling commentary on the state of the media and the marketing industry, and why quality content matters so much. To quote Topolsky at the end of this article, we are only interested in making interesting things for interested people.
While we agree with the premise of the article, there is one piece that is totally missing from the author’s proposed marketing mix: any marketing content related to education and consideration. This is very typical of the PR and traditional marketing communications mindset. What didn’t exist 10-15 years ago, and what traditional marketing and PR people fail to realize, is the ability for normal consumers and buyers to educate themselves to a strikingly high degree, simply by using Google and the vast resources of the internet. Look at his chart: nowhere does it include things that, you know, actually add VALUE to consumers’ lives without overtly calling them to a “buy now” action. Adding this education-without-selling component breaks his model a little, and it’s why the use (or misuse) of “content marketing” has risen in the past couple of years.
Like the previous article, this author riffs off of Dan Lyon’s new book Disrupted (a great read if you haven’t already picked it up). However, she talks about the broader cultural implications of bad content and our willingness to consume it. The thing to ask ourselves, as marketers and brands, is: are we complicit in furthering bad content (and clickbait headlines), or are we working to make quality videos, visuals, and copy that can educate, amuse, and help us achieve our business objectives? It’s a tricky equation, but it’s our job to solve that challenge everyday.
Ad tech can be seen as a blessing or a curse. It can simplify your job as an advertiser, or seemingly make it more complex. It can give you better returns on your advertising dollar, but it also costs money in and of itself.
For this week’s FYI Friday, here are some interesting recent articles on the state of ad tech:
- Where Are You in the Ad Tech Food Chain? – This article highlights the disparity between what an advertiser spends and what the publisher actually gets. For us, we constantly question how we can add more value to that chain, and how can we lessen the costs for our clients (the advertiser) by being smarter about, and aware of, newer and more efficient ad technologies. If you don’t know how efficient you are in the food chain, or if this isn’t even familiar to you, you should definitely give us a call.
- Ad Tech May Be Getting More Complicated, But CMOs Don’t Want to Hear About it – We hear this a lot from clients implicitly, mainly through “let me see the end results and give me the supporting data later” type statements. And they are right. Ad tech and the agencies using them should be like UPS: it only matters when a package ends up in your hands, not how.
- Face it: Facebook (THE Social Ad Platform) is the Internet for Many People – By now, you’ve probably seen Mark Zuckerberg’s 10 year plan for Facebook. But if you dig deeper beyond the altruistic plans of connecting underdeveloped countries to the internet, the financial play is obvious: he wants a platform to show the world more ads….and sell that ad space to advertisers. Read this Economist article in light of that, and you will realize the grand scope and ambition to be the world’s broadest and most saturated ad tech platform.
- The New Career Route: Agency-to-AdTech-Back-to-Agency – Looking for a lucrative career for the next 10-20 years (at least)? Start at a digital agency as a lowly coordinator, go get some experience in the ad tech world, and come back being highly sought-after. The reality is in today’s agency world, it’s becoming (almost) all digital, and that digital media is being bought, distributed and shown in a programmatic way. As long as there are ads in the world, you’ll probably have a job if you know the technology behind it.