Most marketers approach the new year with a burst of resolve and a vow to tick off items on their marketing wish lists. But the digital world is evolving so rapidly that many marketers are left wondering which trends and technologies will endure beyond 2014, and which will just be flashes in the pan.
My big prediction for 2014 is that “consumers will become the new content marketers“. We’ve all heard the phrase “content is king” countless times, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that user-generated content is heir to the throne.
The explosion of mobile and mobile-focused networks like Vine and Instagram have made it easier than ever for consumers to create and share video, giving brands the opportunity to aggregate this content into powerful and authentic brand messaging. On Dec. 17 Facebook announced it will begin supporting video advertising for both mobile and desktop social users, further underlining the emergence of video as a powerful tool that crosses the boundaries of advertising, social media and both business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing.
Here are four ways that you can empower consumers to become content-producing brand advocates in 2014 when planning your content marketing strategy:
#1. Tie social to traditional advertising
In 2014, bust social out of the silo by weaving a social layer across campaigns to inspire audiences to create and share content.
Include hashtags in your TV ads, print ads, in-store displays, and events to drive more conversation. Get even more participation by offering coupons or prizes.
Digital and social are transforming TV ads too. Recent research from Nielsen found that 88 percent of marketers believe that integrated multi-screen campaigns will become very important in the next three years. To compete, marketers must extend their TV ad campaigns across multiple channels — like real-time video ads and hashtag campaigns on social media. This year, watch for new and compelling ways to engage your consumers across all devices and screens. Brands like Dunkin’ Donuts are already using Vine videos in Monday Night Football television ads to tie together social and television advertising.#2.
#2. Connect the dots between social and email
Email and social are two powerful channels with a symbiotic relationship. In combination, they build, target and convert brand audiences, turning thousands of fans into loyal brand advocates.
According to a recent report from ExactTarget, 70 percent of marketers find product or prize giveaways to be an effective tactic for audience acquisition. These incentives prompt fans to opt into email lists, creating lasting relationships with customers like never before.
For example, Giant Eagle ran a Facebook sweepstakes for free tanks of gas, and included a call-to-action to sign up for their email list. By touting access to “exclusive offers,” they received more than 45,000 email opt-ins.
This year, kick performance up a notch by collecting user preference data to get unique insights about the interests of your consumers, and use them to create lists for targeted content and offers. This will help optimize campaigns and increase revenue.
#3. Embrace social’s role in driving commerce
Still believe social media is just about engagement? That’s so 2013. Companies are now driving sales directly from social channels, and that will only grow in 2014.
One increasingly effective social commerce tactic is mobile couponing. With the explosion of smartphones, Business Insider predicts that 47.1 million consumerswill use mobile coupons in 2014. Offering digital coupons through social channels also adds a viral component. Fans and followers feel compelled to share your deals — an impulse you can stoke with incentives for referrals.
Meanwhile social merchandising — collecting, displaying and curating user-generated content regarding a brand’s products — has blended the capabilities of social marketing with the conversion potential of social commerce. Brands can encourage consumers to submit and share attractive, creative and authentic product information or purchases that link directly to trackable transactions.
Social data gets a lot of buzz. In 2014, we’ll start to see its practical application in driving commerce. Brands will seek user input via social channels to make product and marketing decisions. By building user content and feedback into their business model, they can make a measurable impact.
Online retailer ModCloth has found success in applying user data to inform their inventory decisions. Their “Be the Buyer” program allows consumers to vote for the designs that ModCloth will sell on their site. Items created as a result of the “Be the Buyer” program sell twice as much overall as other inventory.
#4. Increase the frequency of your social campaigns
A few years back, brands ran a single marketing campaign for months on end. But the rise of social has turned brands into publishers, constantly cranking out new content and campaigns. Moreover, social gives brands the freedom to create and launch campaigns on the fly — amplifying everything from product launches to flash sales. To stay competitive, you need to run multiple, frequent campaigns that engage multiple segments of your audience.
But don’t limit your campaigns to Facebook. As Pinterest, Twitter, and other networks build their user base, you’ll need to engage and convert those audiences too. You should have distinctive campaign strategies for each network. Consider cross-network campaigns that pull in entries from multiple networks, like Vine, Instagram and Twitter, via a hashtag.
Great insight, Kevin! I completely agree that we’ll see a lot more consumers creating the content and brands embracing this crowdsourcing technique. The pressure of producing creative content is alleviated and more trust is put into the community, it seems like a win/win all around.
The one thing brands need to be mindful of is staying true to their morals and voice. The audience might have really entertaining ideas, but they must coincide with the brand’s direction.