When it comes to social selling, many companies and brand believe that content marketing is the secret sauce. But content marketing is not a lead engine when not controlled, qualified and distributed properly. A recent report by Beckon states that the average amount of image and video content from brands created and posted tripled since 2015. But not for the good.
The report finds that 90% of consumer engagement like Likes, shares and comments was generated by only 5% of that branded content. „In other words, 19 of 20 pieces of content pieces get little to no engagement,“ it concludes. Considering all the buzz around content marketing that we could hear at digital events like dmexco, these numbers are quite interesting. And the doubtful success some companies pretend to have with it raises the question if marketers are not trying to sell too much with content marketing as Mike Templeman suggests in his latest article on Entrepreneur.
Beckon also shows that the volume of content from some brands is incredibly high. The data service company tracked 29,000 and 50,000 individual pieces of content by each one brand. It becomes clear that companies are wasting content and obviously do not know how to make most out of it. The data of the insights for the report was collected from companies like Coca-Cola Co., Gap, Microsoft, HP, Reebok, and others that Beckon is working with.
Beckon CEO Jennifer Zeszut states in an interview that some brands seem to have the primary key performance indicator (KPI) on content to generate more of it. Obviously the study proves that case with the numbers.
The reports claims that the value of paid versus owned media seems to be unbalanced which seems to be a proper explanation considering how social networks are changing today and becoming more of paid media platforms. Furthermore, the report finds that there is just a 7% increase among its clients in paid or so-called „working“ media. Compared to that nonworking spending of their clients increased by 50% year over year, it shows how uncontrolled the budgets are spend in content production.
And despite the fact that programmatic is not everybody darling, the Beckon findings showcase that digital media bought programmatically by their clients generates twice the return on investment of other digital buys. However, just about half of measured digital spending was bought programmatically.
But the question is why this content is not triggering engagement. According to Beckon, often the lack of quality control at companies is a challenge. Many content teams simply overlook the content process by delivering guidelines and checking the produced quantity of content. However, they lack on proper content delivery and distribution. Content marketing is nice tactic but you need to know how to leverage social selling properly with the right strategic KPI set. Then content marketing gives you the right business impact.
According to the study of Harris Poll (conducted on behalf of Lithium Technologies), that addressed more than 2,300 consumers of all generations, more than half of all digital natives (56%) report to cut back or stop the use of social media platforms entirely.
Even more, 75% of the responding Millenials stated that they feel stalked by brands on social platforms. The reason: The eager way brands do target them in their news feed with the ambition to build trust and loyalty with their customers or consumers via social media platforms in the U.S.
So, what does this mean for brands? Do brands have to live according to a transformed version of the former cold call prevention: „Don’t stalk us, we follow you!“? The study suggests that direct targeting on social platforms via advertising might result in losing customers. It would be more effective to engage and to be present on the channels they use frequently. And also if brands might be tempted to leverage the huge purchasing power coming from the modern generations (Millennials and Gen Z make up 50% of the population), brands need to be careful not to waste the potential of social media and really meet their personal expectations. How challenging this might be in the end…
„The promise of social technologies has always been about connecting people, not shouting at them, and the brands that don’t do this risk their very existence.“ Rob Tarkoff, President&CEO, Lithium Technologies.
But how can brands build trust, the study also asked? A question that is also raised in a bi-annual study from Nielsen and might be evaluated in comparison with those results. Obviously, online is their general source of information but their trust in online exceeds that of former generations by far.
While in the Nielsen study, personal „recommendations from people I know“ are leading, Lithium sees „online sites with product reviews“ as the highest form of online trust creation. That websites are definitely not „dead“ can be seen that both studies see websites kind of in the second place. And, whereas Lithium sees „communities of like-minded people“ in the third place (just think about what their main product was…), Nielsen sees editorial content still a very important source.
In terms of service, the Lithium study shows that Millennials contact brands online (79%) and expect a response back within the same day – almost 10% more than Baby Boomers. So, if brands do not actively monitor and engage with the younger generations online, their brand loyalty might go down soon. The best way to interact with Millennials is described in a quote the study also delivers…
„I go on social media to see and know what my friends are doing. I don’t want to see ads clutter my news feed. If I’m interested in a product or service, I know where to look. Social media is a place for us to connect with our friends, not be attacked by advertisements.“ Mallory Benham, Graduate Student (23)
So, what are your learning on targeting Millennials and Gen Z via ads on social media?
Social selling is a team sport
The sales team impacts all departments of an organization, including client success, product and IT. But arguably the place where sales – and social selling – has the greatest influence is on the marketing team. And vice versa.
According to Sirius Decisions, 58% of marketing and sales teams say they are seriously misaligned. Some of the repercussions of a sales-marketing duo with no alignment? Lost leads, bad content and blind decision-making.
Sales and marketing teams need to get on the same page to ensure efforts aren’t going to waste (and feelings aren’t getting hurt). To be successful, sales and marketing must focus on 3 key aspects of a strong social selling initiative:
A crucial aspect of social selling is the sales professional’s ability to provide valuable content – articles, white papers, videos, podcasts and more – to prospects in their network. Misaligned marketing departments can spend time and resources creating content for sales, but it is useless if the content doesn’t meet the needs of the prospect or if sales can’t even find it.
How do you fix it? By understanding the buyer’s journey, sales and marketing can together determine what types of content fit best for prospects at different levels of the funnel. Then, marketing can curate a database of content that is easily accessible and relevant for salespeople to use throughout their process.
Implementing a well-run social selling program provides the sales organization a predictive, guided approach to everyday sales. In an environment where nearly 60% of the B2B buying process is done by the prospect before they ever speak to sales, reps need guidance on how, when, and where to connect on social networks. Marketing and sales need to understand and agree on their buyer persona so marketing can provide the resources that will guide sales to success.
How do you fix it? For social selling to become part of a sales professional’s everyday process, it must be easy for them to identify the best way to engage with prospects online. Marketing and sales must collaborate to identify the ways in which their buyers navigate the buying process. This enables marketing to develop relevant campaigns and channels for sales to leverage in their social selling practices, resulting in the most important aspect of all…
Too often, misaligned sales and marketing teams hurt themselves and end up doing more work when they let good leads slip through the cracks. Whether it’s marketing campaigns missing the mark on the right buyer, or sales failing to follow up on solid marketing leads, it’s a lose-lose situation.
How do you fix it? First and foremost, clearly define what each team will commit to accomplishing in order to support each other. As the saying goes: Build the social selling process, and the leads will come. When marketing provides sales the resources and tools to become problem-solving thought leaders in their networks, everyone wins.
„Never leave Social media to marketing alone. Marketing spreads the brand and product messages. Sales plants conversations, seeds solutions and harvests on needs.“ (Martin Meyer-Gossner on Social Selling)
This is a guest blog post by PeopleLinx CEO Kevin O’Nell. PeopleLinx helps B2B enterprise sales teams activate socialselling with individualized guidance.
They blog from the first row at catwalks. They share cool design gadgets on Instagram. They strike a pose with a selfie in front of 5-star hotels on Pinterest. And, they record „Let’s plays“ for Youtube while testing the latest computer games. The one thing they have in common? They are online influencers. A digital species that challenges and changes the marketing world of models, testimonials and the publishing industry.
According to an annual Nielsen study, it is a common knowledge that people trust most in recommendations of people they know. In the past, marketers put models or celebrities in this „recommendation seat“. It was meant to address two benefits: Brands intended to grasp some of the consumers’ attention by trying to hitch-hike on the wave of VIP awareness and public relevance. And, they used the reach of magazines and the trust those public voices had for the people.
It seems to me that the tables are turning now, and marketers have to rethink their brand extension strategy.
1. Models – the personalization dilemma
When using models, brands couldn’t tell exactly which audience they were addressing. It was a marketers’ and model agent’s best guess which model fits which brand. However, a model does not have a transparent target-group. They are just faces without any open address books or lead list.
Social influencers are their own agents. Their content markets their personality, their personality defines their content, their reach expresses their quality. They have got fans, followers, and friends that everybody (not only when following them) can see. A clear defined and dynamic target-group that is commited to them and engages with them on a regular basis. What they say gets read. What they state is trusted. In fact, their consumer opinion becomes one of the most trusted sources that people believe in – more than traditional ads of any kind.
Just imagine the influence on purchase intent, when an influencer is posting online to a large audience of friends and fans. Social influencers are perceived of their active and growing audiences as „more real“ than models, somehow even as „friends“.
But also the traditional model business is affected by the upcoming influencer trend: Previously interchangeable and relatively anonymous faces are now increasingly becoming personal brands thanks to their personalized Instagram and Snapchat channels and/or (mostly fashion- and beauty related) blogposts. Consequently, numerous models with significant reach are also acting as influencers to their audiences.
2. Testimonials – the authenticity dilemma
Testimonials need to match brand authenticity and follow the brand message in order to become valuable for marketers. Serious investment in dollars does not allow a testimonial’s mistake. Contracts are long-term and include testimonial involvement not only in all brand campaigns but also in personal PR and marketing engagement during the contracting period.
Money counts for testimonials – as much as monetary rewards do for online influencers. This is definitely true for the fashion and beauty industry, states the „Fashion & Beauty Monitor“ report in partnership with Econsultancy named „The Rise of Influencers„. However, three out of five surveyed influencers believe that the „relevance of brand in relation to own area of expertise „is essential when collaborating with marketers. Influencers are very well aware of their personality as brand that has to be secured and consequently, they do not sell everything just because they are asked to. Of course, this in return means a certain loss of control for marketers when working with powerful influencers. Just to state an example, years ago, I offered MINI a cool opportunity to collaborate with me. I fear the idea never reached the BMW four-cylinder tower – perhaps for fear of losing brand control?
Think about it: How authentic can testimonials be that are selected by brands as of their popularity in sports, fashion and lifestyle? Testimonials sell their media value. On the contrary, engagement with influencers can only work when brands do not act too commercial with them and meet their personal authenticity. Social influencers are personal brands; authentic brands that companies can collaborate with.
3. Publishers – the relevance dilemma
When content from influencers gets more attention (and is trusted more) than content from advertising, relevance becomes a critical tipping point. For years, marketers and PR experts were convinced that „serious“ traditional publishers are more relevant to readers than bloggers or any other form of social media active people. Thus, they invested serious dollars in brand building activities with the publishing industry. Today, these very media houses are approaching influencers to increase their declining media value.
A recent study by Collective Bias shows that content from influencers is viewed for more than 2 minutes (which is 7 times longer than the digital display ad average with a view time of just 19.2 seconds). Plus the relevance of someone’s personal opinion -whether rating, recommendation or review- has become of high value for consumers. Now if content from an influencer is relevant and perceived as being „authentic“ , publishing is facing serious competition in the future.
However, relevance needs to meet relevance both ways. Just putting brand messages into the mouth of online influencers won’t accelerate a brand’s value. In order to become relevant to an influencer and his or her audience, a brand needs to be „love-brand“ in a social influencer’s mind. If not, the influencer will be perceived (and probably also act) like a traditional publishing product without a media-kit.
Solving the dilemma – budget and advertising strategy
The world of testimonials, models and publishing is changing with the rise of influencers.
More and more companies and brands start working with social influencers. I personally doubt that they will completely replace models, testimonials and publishing houses, but the future will tell. However, the world of recommendations will be redefined by a new species.
According to a recent #BrandofMe study, brands invested 1 Bio. USD in 2015 in influencer programs on Instagram only. Influencers earn between 500 and 10.000 USD per Instagram photo or Youtube video – obviously depending on their media reach. Which means that some influencers get paid as much as some publishers for their ad space. A lot of budget that moves away from traditional brand building worlds.
The question is what values more to brands in terms of business impact: tradition or progression. But that question can only be answered when brands understand the power that online influencers can have on and in the sharing economy.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has become on of the most discussed topics in the digital landscape these days. Based on sensors, mechanisms, processes, the cloud and big data sets, companies as well as people try try to rethink how we can better use the Internet for our homes, our cities and the daily business.
We have collected the three most impressive pieces of content that came up lately to give you an overview of the potential and the challenges involved when using IoT.
1. IoT and legislation
A recent post by Cyberlex is discussing in details the approach of the European Union with their „Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation“ (AIOTI) and Digital Agenda for Europe on IoT against the American Federal Trade Commission with their Staff Report on the Internet of Things in order to deriver some logic for a Canadian IoT approach.
While the European guideline makes clear that the future regulations will lie on security, privacy, consumer protection, functioning competition and choice. The American discusses the issues of privacy, security and is trying to give guidance whether legislation is required to regulate the Internet of Things.
2. IoT and Social Media
Over at WT Vox a post is discussing the opportunities and the challenges that the combination of the IoT with social media generates. Although we might be seeing the power of commerce data to understand the mindset of the next customer, there might be more business impact on the image, machine and health data for our future lives when it comes to the value of IoT. However, they make clear that the all deciding question on the future of IoT will be how everybody is handling their „digital persona“ over the next years and whether we open up or step back from giving out personal data to people and companies we have got no idea what, how and why they derive data via smart health, smart home technology or smart city.
Gartner sees a more and more connected world and predicts there will more than 6.4 billion connected devices by the end of 2016. Cisco goes even further and forecasts that by 2020 even 37 billion connected devices will be in the world. McKinsey even estimates that IoT is expected to have an economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion per year by 2025 (representing up to 11% of the world’s economy).
3. IoT and Investments
The infographic that delivers data by Venture Scanner that we came across via the guys at Appcessories gives some good impression of how much investment goes into the IoT development and in which industry sector most most investments and innovations are produced.
In all of those posts it becomes clear that there is a demand for companies to enable and ensure processes that make people aware of how they use data and technology to understand the consumers development and movement. Furthermore, it is wanted to see a continuous progress in monitoring and improving peoples‘ privacy and security. And finally, the question is whether companies and regulation units need to give clearer guidance and legal advice on compliance and data collecting and processing laws in order not to loose the trust of customers and consumers.
With their annual study called „Mobile Elite“ (2013 and 2014 versions here) CNBC has been focussing in the last two years on how executives use their mobiles for business, and when and how it helps them doing their business more effectively. A survey that is tracking senior business executive’s use of mobile devices across Europe, Asia and the US.
Now, they have come up with their latest update „Mobile Elite 2015“ that more or less global executives have become mobile in terms of reaching a mobile device saturation point. Already more than 9 out of 10 business executives access the mobile web to get the latest business content and news updates via their tablets or smartphones (of which they have in average 6 (!) devices at home). Compared to last year, the access to „news feeds“ has shown the highest growth for smartphones (45% to 60%). Their main time of reading the news is in the morning of weekdays (87%), predominantly with interest in financial news and stock prices (71%). Six in ten business leaders say they access the news via mobiles in the morning.
However, when we think that the weekend is a „news off time“ for business execs, we might prove wrong. More than over six in ten business decision makers check their news and business content over the weekend. It is their time to deep-dive into content as time allows them to. Like last year’s results it becomes clear that as of the mobile options most of the top management does not differentiate between weekday and weekend any longer. Mobiles keeps them in the business all days. Furthermore, the second screen phenomenon can also be seen at business executives. TV might still be their main source of content delivery in the morning (51%), but three out of four (75%) watch TV at the same time as using their mobile device (6% more than in 2014), or maybe on their mobile devices.
„With mobile saturation at an all-time high, we’re now seeing business executives shifting their attentions towards a more connected lifestyle. With a slowdown in hardware innovation in 2015, the survey suggests that global executives are unlocking the potential of their technology to be more connected, more of the time. We could be witnessing the start of the next mobile renaissance.“
Mike Jeanes, Director of Research, EMEA, CNBC
Even more interesting to see is that the Internet-of-Things (IoT) has found their way into the business executives homes. Just about four in ten business leaders operate apps at home via their mobiles. This means that top decision makers become „early drivers“ of technology by the use of mobile devices and wearables. More than every second respondent (54%) claimed to like the idea of hands free technology. This means they do not want to end their mobile journey with smart homes and smart security systems. Still, when it comes to cyber security business leaders are now „extremely concerned“. More than three out of four (82%) value mobile data privacy and security a „concern“, while admitting (41%) it is the most important technological influencer for 2016, followed by cloud technology (35%) and mobile e-commerce (34%).
The study shows that the C-Suite might be fully mobile but also understands and respects the responsibilities it needs to create a sustainable future.
Would you agree?
Mobile is on the rise but web is still king? Well, it is one of these findings that makes you wonder on first reading. Although websites still reach bigger audiences, web users spend most of their time in mobile apps according to comScore.
Monitoring the time between June 2014 and 2015, comScore finds in some research that the audience for mobile websites is around 250% bigger than mobile apps. Furthermore, it is growing twice as fast as apps. As a reason for this development comScore sees the closed garden phenomenon a challenge for apps. Web versions are much more fluid in terms of linking between content, social and search.
comScore also found that FB and Google own eight of the 10 most-visited mobile apps with Facebook winning the „competition“ (almost 126 million unique visitors) with nearly one in two users who installed the app saying using it most frequently.
It is not surprising that Facebook’s app as of it’s reach is not the fastest growing app any more compared to Google’s audio-video sharing platform Youtube (9 to 18% growth) with 99 million users. However, after seperating their Messenger app from their main Facebook platform, the Messenger was grew double the size compared to last year.
Where people between the age of 18 and 34 spend most of their time is on Facebook (nearly 26 hours a month), Instagram (7 hours), Snapchat and Tumblr (6 hours) and Twitter (3,5 hours).
ComScore said mobile phones now account for 62% of all time spent online. Within that total, the research firm said 44% of time is spent on smartphone apps, up from 33% two years earlier. Mobile users spend more than 70% of their time in smartphone apps, dwarfing time spent on tablet apps and mobile websites.
The comScore mobile report gives a good indication of where the evolution of apps and their usage might lead in the future. It shows that „messaging is a very hot sector for apps“ but is still early stages in the US. Looking at the time people spend with certain categories, the leading areas of interest were social networking (29%), radio (15%), games (11%), multimedia and instant messaging (6%), and music (4%).
As the research was monitoring the US audience, the two apps that were not owned by Facebook and Google under the top 10 were the music apps from Pandora and Apple Music. Furthermore, new service apps like Uber and Lyft have become more and more popular, comScore finds.
A recent study 2015 Content Marketing Survey by content marketing agency Castleford states that the amount of marketers committed to content marketing is increasing. According to their results 65% (compared to 48% one year ago) of marketers want to boost their content marketing next financial year. Their plans is to invest more in time and resources.
Even more, 97% of participants of the survey said they will increase or retain their current level of investment. And the respondents also face the support of their C-level executives. Of the responding marketers 76% replied their C-level executives viewed content marketing „quite positively“ or „very positively“.
Obviously, there are also some challenges involved in content marketing creation wit time (45%) and budget (29%) being the biggest problem. Just, 3% that mentioned their C-level buy-in is their biggest challenge to content marketing will be probably persuaded over time, we think.
In terms of content marketing tactics the study shows that social media (81%) is still the favorite online marketing tactics in this field. However, the biggest growth opportunity shows video marketing and paid promotion of content for the next year. 61% are already using video marketing, (increase of 13% compared to last year). This is probably also driven by the main players Facebook and Google.
The variety of content marketing is also growing though. Almost every second marketer said that they use five or more different online marketing channels (45%).
Although Castleford director Rob Cleeve is confident with the development of content marketing, he also makes clear that marketers need to deliver results with it as well: „In my experience, content marketing is claiming an increasingly large share of overall marketing budgets, which is going to mean more pressure to show how it’s benefiting the bottom line.“
Content marketing definitely has changed the advertising industry drastically. However, the main challenges involved are the appropriate use of data with content to drive the right story in the right context to the right user at the right time. Here we see massive problems for many marketers still in our work with customers. Post-it recently explained it nicely in a video that leverages their banner and ask many question in terms of how retargeting actually kills good content marketing in terms in the example of banner ads.
The infographic of the study carries all relevant results of the Castleford study.
In many posts have we written about the relevance of influencer marketing and how it differs from the value of brand advocates. Today, many marketing organizations and brands have understood the power of influencer marketing and dedicate a significant amount of their budget to them. And there are good reason for it which we can see from one of the latest infographics in the market provided by the guys from The Shelf.
Shoppers trust in influencers and use them as their third-most-consulted consumer decision information source. Although brand and retail sites are still in the lead as an information source. Blogs already come in right after them, even ranking higher than well-trusted social networks like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.
Years ago, we have made clear that the 3 Rs of the social consumer will be leading the decision making process in the future: ratings, reviews and recommendations. The infographic is another proof for our thesis those days. These days, influencer are more trusted than brand content where recommendations have got the biggest power with 92% of consumers trusting in those. Reviews have become the second most trusted source (70%). People also try to stay on top of thought leaderwith blog content that is consulted by 47%.
Although the opportunities are there, only two out of three marketers (65%) invest in influencer marketing so far. and every second company separates their budgets for sponsored social content from other budgets (52%). Still, the amount of investment is not „nickles and dimes“ anymore for brands and companies. Every fourth company already spends over $500,000 already.
Why influencers play an important role inside your content strategy is obvious. They can explain products from various subjective and objective angles. They can play an important role in your community management when negative input needs tob e turned into positive arguments. They can have a big impact in your content production strategy in having an external view on your business and relevance in the market, and thus become your „search-engine-optimizers“. And, they will play a significant role in your sales approach if you take your time to think about it (or maybe talk to us if you don’t have an answer).
Have a look at the infographic and decide yourself if and how you would like to use influencer marketing in the future.
Instagram is the rockstar kid on the social media street these days… at least among the younger generations GenY and GenZ as far as we can argue from our latest advice and studies we are seeing all over the world. And when users have shared over 30 billion photos on one platform that tells a trend.
Now, many marketers wonder wether they should invest in Instagram to create new content, how often they shall share something, and in which way to present their brand to their target group. Salesforce offers some interesting advice with an infographic called „Say cheese!“.
Salesforce thinks that posting quality photos on a regular basis is one of the key tactics.
Regular? Well, find the „balance between over-saturation and falling to the wayside“. Understood? No? Maybe try not to put yourself in the focus of your brand and company name in pictures all the time.
Quality? Whatever that means as it stays in some way undefined. Maybe they mean types of photos more than quality of photos. Their advice is to use previews of upcoming products or events, and employees.
Style? „Write clear and engaging descriptions that reflect and enforce your brand’s message“. However, the question remains what engaging descriptions are. The answer we think would be to include questions in descriptions: Ask, ask, ask.
Our main advice would be to reach out to those Instagram users that are sharing content that engages already others that might be in your brand customer range. And somehow the secret sauce is: Re-post, re-share and comment. Don’t always think about many own accounts on Instagram. Just make sure „you don’t look like a robot.“