Are we moving towards a greater maturity in digital marketing?
2017 is shaping up to be a defining year for marketers. After surfing the wave of “Influenceratis” in recent years, companies have gradually lost interest in the phenomenon. Confronted with the growing popularity of ad blockers. Brands are now turning to young niche bloggers/vloggers, new ¨Fashionistas¨, and ¨Mom Bloggers¨ to reach new clientele. By sponsoring content on popular platforms, they’ve adopted temporary solutions to replace the ads.
Fortunately, today, the integration of marketing of influence and content seems to be reconciled among agencies and marketing managers. There is a growing understanding of the importance of developing longer-term relationships to regain consumer confidence. And, it’s not enough to publish content, or beautiful images to achieve the desired results. For the new connected consumers, the message has become the brand, and the messenger counts as much as the message. There is a natural correlation between the two. Without a strategic approach developed with the influencers of the communities, the content published by a brand has no value. Without the production and dissemination of quality content, which adds value to consumers, influencer marketing is just a new form of advertising. (Read also: Confluence Marketing: The Convergence of Influence and Content.)
Today, with the advanced technology of mobile and social media, everything is connected. Content marketing and influencer relationships are merging. B2C and B2B marketing strategies also tend to merge with each other. The consumer path has become more complex with many iterations. Companies and organizations that adapt their message to the different stages of the new connected consumers purchasing path will be the ones who benefit from the convergence of influence and content.
The new annual report from the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs: B2B Content Marketing 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends reveals that 62% of marketers consider that their approach to content marketing has improved since the last year. Mainly thanks to the Creation of new content (85%) and integration of better strategies (72%) within their organization.
Another recent study, conducted by Traackr and TopRank Marketing, and presented by Brian Solis: Influence 2.0 – The Future of Influence Marketing, shows that the situation is similar for influencer marketing. While 59% of brands will integrate influence marketing into their overall marketing activities, 47% consider it to be part of a multi-functional approach to strategic development.
Confluence marketing is built stone by stone
“Influence can’t be decreed, it is worked,” says Olivier Cimeliere. The leadership of an individual, brand or organization is built over time. It will depend on the credibility and competence that can be demonstrated and acquired with experience. These are more collaborative and reciprocal relationships.
As I already mentioned, it’s not enough to know how to produce and edit attractive and fun videos on YouTube. Or Photoshop beautiful images for Instagram or Snapchat, to be an influencer in your community overnight. It’s not enough to have a large network to become a thought leader for a group. Influence can’t be bought by the number of ¨followers¨ and false subscribers. Perseverance and consistency outweigh personality. Endurance often manages to downgrade talent. In Mark Shaefer’s new best-seller book: ¨Known: The handbook for building and unleashing your personal brand in the digital age¨ Isadora Becker, head of ¨foodies¨ influencers on YouTube says, “I believed in what I was doing, but it took me 3 years before everything fell into place,”.
Initially, every Web and social media user, whether a beginning user or an expert recognized in his sector, will have to adapt to this new virtual environment. They’ll adapt at their own pace, based on their interests and personal motivation. They’ll have to become familiar with this new ecosystem and secure their digital identity before exploring options to develop their own community and establish their reputation. Some earlier users will do this quickly, and become leaders and credible and trustworthy references for their community. From that point on, they will be influencers and will continue to climb (or not) the pyramid of influence to reach their sector peaks.
To achieve this, a strategy must be developed and implemented to build a strong reputation based on the relevance and quality of content. Success is earned, and there are no shortcuts. To succeed in building an effective (personal or corporate) brand and being able to assert influence in social networks, it’s necessary to dedicate time and passion. To gain the trust of the audience, demonstrate expertise the quality of their content has to bring an added value. It’s the strategic integration of content marketing and influence, which can often take a period of 2 1/2 to 3 years, Mark Schaefer explains in a recent article.
Important personal milestones to highlight
Personally, this year will mark several milestones in my career as a Strategic Web/Social Media Consultant. It was in 1997, 20 years ago, that I ignited my consulting collaboration and contribution services with one of the first successful family/children web portal in Quebec.
I’ve written several hundred of articles, and gotten involved in numerous media professional associations. Seven years ago, in 2010, I started my first blog to coincide with the release of my second book (in French): ¨Comment entreprendre le virage 2.0¨. I’ve written several hundred articles on influence and content marketing, connected consumers and the digital transformation of organizations. Those articles have been published on my blog and several professional blogging platforms.
And, Monday, April 24, 2017, will mark the 5th anniversary of my first monthly column on MaximizeSocialBusiness. Over the past 5 years, I’ve published more than 50 blog posts on influential marketing and Generation C topics, trends and best practices. Articles that have helped me reach several hundred thousand new readers, and collect thousands of shares.
It’s the quality of the conversations with other social media and web professionals that bring me the greatest satisfaction. I’ve developed true relationships of trust and friendship which have led to new collaborations. This is particularly the case with my friend Neal Schaffer, who also became a mentor. He has done me the great honor of writing an introduction to my book: ¨Génération C(onnectée) – Le marketing d’influence à l’ère numérique¨. A version of this book will be released in English next fall. A 2017 update of the current version in French will come next fall also.
I would like to extend my warmest thanks to my friend and mentor Neal for the continuous support he’s given me over the past 5 years. And the understanding he’s always given me even in the most difficult periods. I would also like to acknowledge the remarkable collaboration of Debbie and Amy. And all the other contributors of MaximizeSocialBusiness with whom I’ve had the opportunity to share ideas or develop projects. Over the past 5 years, there’s been a community of analysts and web/social media marketers around the MSB platform that I’m extremely proud to be part of.
Find the TOP 5 of my MSB’s blogs for 2015-2016:
- 12 Emerging Trends for Social Media Influencer Marketing in 2016, 16/11/2015 1.7 K
- The Five Pillars of Social Media Influencer Marketing, 17/08/2016 1.3 K
- Social Media Influence Marketing: Why Blogs Matter, 21/05/2015 1.3 K
- 6 Challenges for Public Relations With Social Media Influencers, 16/05/2016 1.1 K
- When Social Media Influence Marketing Becomes the Brand, 16/02/2015 1.1 K