Before there was social media—before there was mobile and the video revolution, there was blogging. Once heralded as a revolution in communications and to a degree, marketing—self expression and direct publishing of the written word became an influential force to be dealt with.
Blogging, in written word form of has been a commodity for some time. Content in all forms—even mobile optimized and snackable content. There’s simply too much of it. Most of it is not very good and even if it is—the amount of effort it takes to make sure that content will travel far and wide makes for considerable effort. Many will do this well but more will fail.
The ability to create it, influence it, co-create it and integrate a brand so seamlessly in culture and relevant sub cultures. This is the next frontier of marketing and communications and while it has much to do with things like social, mobile and content—it is the cultural aspect that must lead while everything else follows. A fantastic article in Harvard Business Review reflects some of this shift, labeling it within the context of something Douglas Holt calls “Crowdculture”:
The challenge for brands is that they often times cannot create culture by themselves. Today’s culture creators often thrive in “sub cultures”—niche groups that exist under more mainstream areas whether it be food, sports, fashion—lest you think this only applies to “consumer brands” it does not. Subcultures exist in business as well and continue to diversify as business itself becomes more specialized and niche.
Brands and Organizations Must Become Collaborators and Co-Creators of Culture
Today and tomorrow’s challenge for brands and organizations is to tweak their marketing and communications infrastructure so they can effectively collaborate with influencers of culture across the spectrum. If brands cannot create culture from scratch—they can co-create it with the right partners across the paid, owned, earned and social spectrum. But to do this at scale, they must understand the ecosystem of influence and re-structure internally to connect that ecosystem and approach peer to peer influence from all sides.
The Rise of Influencers
Brands and organizations who wish to influence culture and become co-creators of it, must begin to coordinate how they approach working with those who wield influence, coming at it from different directions. For example, TIME magazine featured a cover telling us that we should “eat butter”. While earned in nature, the story and the journalists behind it are playing a key role in the resurgence of butter and how Americans are re-thinking fat. It’s an example of media influencing culture—in this particular example, this kind of influence cannot be bought—it must be earned, however, increasingly cultural influencers such as “YouTubers” require paid means to collaborate with.
“Content Marketing” came after social media and mobile and it enjoyed a good run. But it’s not enough to create content in a complex media ecosystem that makes it extremely difficult to break though and earn attention. Brands will have to learn how to influence culture and sub cultures by collaborating with those who create it externally while coordinating their fractured functions internally.
There are rumors that another Google Algorithm update will occur before the end of the year. This kind o
f update always creates tension for the online marketing community. They want to know what type of changes to expect so that they can understand how their site will be impacted. These updates have to be taken seriously because they can cause a lot of trouble like broken links caused by being part of an unauthorized link building program, maybe lack of updating and too much reliance on a domain’s name.
Each time that this happens, it is important to focus on linking your company brand name with its location and services you perform. Make sure that all five of these things appear.
- Company name and location- continued focus on brand name recognition
- Location – locally, regionally and nationally
- Product(s) / Service(s) description
- Name(s) of company representative, stressing client service
- Value Content – blog, content marketing, reports
- Marketing Channel – where to invest time in delivering the company message
This list should look very familiar to you. Yes, we work on building our reputation through SEO and content marketing, but there is another side. The part that I feel the need to stress on is mobile.
Many companies think that apps are a long-term strategy, but for now we are still in the erly stages. This audience will definitely grow, but we are still missing almost three-quarters of the population – it is just too early in the game.
Strong Brand Recognition
It is now more important than ever to link all six of the above listed items together. If you leave one thing out, your audience will now see the overall value. More emphasis needs to be made to connect all of these things together. That means that you may need to provide more information to emphasize points like price and personnel.
The definition of content has drastically changed. It is more than just knowledge information. Now, content requires more information such as specific reports and video presentations. It is critical for companies to look at the content production process from a news media standpoint to product higher quality content and delivery.
The Right Mix of Channels
Where are people going for their information? There is a huge disruption right now with Internet and technology. Now, companies need to find the right channels within the two to make them succeed.
China’s greatest success has been in industries that are very customer-focused such as household appliances (39 percent global revenue), Internet software (15 percent) and smart phones (10 percent). In these sectors, the majority of the growth is from local market sales – the size of China makes domestic leaders, global leaders.
Based on the enormous size of the Chinese consumer market, appliance makers like Haier and Internet companies like Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu have grown to be world leaders. However, the Chinese consumer market is also quickly moving. The disposable income of its consumers has risen by 10 percent every year for over a decade and now 85 million households have joined the consuming class. In the Chinese market, innovations are rapidly scaled up and commercialized. So, Chinese companies have learned how to adapt global products by tweaking designs and better addressing the consumer needs. A new generation of Chinese entrepreneurs have been solving consumer problems in a unique way – the Chinese way.
China has a highly fragmented retail industry and this harshly limits decent choices for consumers if they are outside of major cities. However, Chinese entrepreneurs saw this as an opportunity and build a world-leading e-commerce industry, Alibaba. It has grown to be the world’s largest online market place based on the value of the merchandise sold – $349 billion last year. Further innovations by Alibaba is Alipay, a payments system and Ali Finance which helps to finance small scale suppliers that don’t have a traditional banking system.
Rethink Business Models
Chinese entrepreneurs greatest flair has been inventing business models. To understand, I’ll let you know that in most parts of the world, 60 to 90 percent of revenue for online businesses comes from advertising. In China, this is not the case; their advertising industry is actually only about a quarter the size of the US industry. Chinese companies needed to create new business models to monetize the web traffic. One company, Tencent generates 90 percent of its revenue from online games, sales of virtual items on social platforms and e-commerce. The result? The average revenue per use is $16 compared to Facebook’s $10.
Cheaper, but Better
China is known for creating products for about half of what other countries charged, but only at about 80 percent of the quality. With the rise of a wealthy class in China, now they have to create cheaper, but better products to win their consumers. A Beijing-based market phone maker, Ziaomi has become one of the world’s most successful startups. Xiaomi phones usually cost half of what top products of global brands cost for the same and even better hardware features. How do they do it? Ziaomi has achieved this by embracing business model innovations like online only sales and risk sharing with supplier. Now, Xiaomi is the largest smart phone player in China and is preparing to enter foreign markets.