Renowned author and TED speaker Bryan Kramer recently honored me by asking for my predictions about social and content marketing trends for 2016 to share with his worldwide audience.
For the uninitiated, Kramer is a leading expert on the use of sharing and social influence for marketing – someone who is sought out by Fortune 500 companies and conference organizers to keynote on the subject. Someone who wrote the book on social sharing, as it is practiced today. And now, here he was, asking me to contribute to his future-looking trend list for 2016.
Though my personal contribution occupied but a few sentences, it got me to thinking about the broader marketing landscape that persists today – and, in particular, my experiences in cultivating the kind of visibility for myself, that prompted Kramer to include me in his list.
I realized that the type of expert commentary proffered by me and by Kramer is, in fact, what has become most effective for individuals and businesses alike in the battle to gain visibility, distinction – and hopefully, ROI.
“Influencer marketing” – the use of content by those of a high profile to shape consumer behavior – is here to stay. It was recently called the “next big thing” by AdWeek magazine, which should tell you something. It represents the next level of how B2B entities will forge valuable connections, for mutual benefit. And it’s another one of those concepts that evoke the cautionary statement: “If you’re not doing it, your competitors already are.”
As I work to grow my own consulting business, I realize that I, too, can benefit from practicing what I preach. In fact, if you are reading this particular sentence, I’ve successfully used “influencer marketing” on you (don’t worry, it’s contagious).
Here is the outline for the influencer-marketing plan I hope to implement for myself in 2016 – but I hope you will also find it a useful road map, as you consider ways to embody this within your own enterprise or strata:
Content That Works Harder AND Smarter: The secret is out – content – that which is well researched, reasoned and relevant – is the engine driving marketing today. Individuals and enterprises are finally starting to understand the role that content plays in the sales cycle. Nearly three quarters of marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago, and about half of enterprises have a dedicated content team within their organization, according to the Content Marketing Institute. More than just repurposing your warmed-over leftovers, it is critical today to continue to constantly deliver fresh perspectives – and find the right channels to use for maximum visibility. Which leads us to….
2016 -- The Year of “Social Amplification.” Your next task is to get that valuable content in front of the right influencer groups, across multiple channels. To do this, you need to find your equivalent of “E.F. Hutton” – those barkers who tote with them a large number of social followers in your relevant marketplace, and then compelling them to engage, share and communicate their excitement about you. Think of the impact when late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon pledges his allegiance to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to his millions of social media followers; or when one of the Kardashians show off a favorite new handbag on Instagram. But you don’t need star power to be successful at social amplification – any ambassador, when engaged, can have a social impact that will be measurable in your bottom line.
The Best in the Business: Offline influencers still play a significant role in impacting the marketplace – particularly for those like me, in the professional services arena, or for B2B entities. My strategy in 2016 is to focus on three specific target audiences:
- Industry analysts with whom I have established relationships (this includes management journalists like Tom Stewart who are relevant to my target audience);
- Business experts like Seth Godin, and the aforementioned Bryan Kramer, who, when impressed, can be a great source of networking and connection-making;
- Video viewers. I plan to leverage the power of the moving picture by testing Blab, a live streaming video platform that lets you host and record your own live video show or conference with up to four people, engaging them at the same time.
I hope I have been able to give you some insights about how you can leverage your own assets for an effective influencer marketing effort in 2016. Of course, if you liked what you read, please share this liberally to your friends, contacts and followers – I would greatly appreciate it!