Top 5 Internet Marketing Insights for 2017

“Google will buy Twitter for tens of billions of dollars. Twitter won’t change much, but there will be more ads. The ROI for buying advertising in Twitter will go up.” This is a quote by Andy Crestodina who is the co-founder of Orbit Media and is considered a leading industry expert.

2017 seems to be the year of substantial increases of innovation in the Martech and Adtech industry. Understanding these new market trends will help teams as they begin to plan a 2017 budget even though some of the new technologies they will need are still on or just leaving the drawing board. Many industry professionals are interested in seeing how Microsoft will utilize the big data they have to create a stronger ad program within their recent acquisition of Linkedin. The thought of combining a huge social network of over 400 million users with one of the largest search engines in the world is every digital marketer’s wet dream. That goes without saying the endless possibilities that will emerge with combining those resources with Windows, Office, Dynamics, and Cloud. Can you imagine writing a blog post or article on Office 365 and being able to just right click to find an expert quote from Linkedin?

Trend #1: Double down on Automation and Social analytics

I’d like to remind everyone that Social Media is still in its beginning stages even though some of us feel that large companies such as Facebook and Twitter have been around a long time they are still in their infancy stage. Such as the beginning of any relationship, martech and social media are still getting to know each other, but social media advertising is projected to generate $11 billion in revenue by 2017. It is one of the largest opportunities of marketing exploration for the upcoming year, and as I mentioned before some of these social websites still have many ideas on the drawing board that will greatly benefit Internet marketing. A DMA research study showed that 70% of companies are still not collecting data from social media channels, so it is important that budgets are allocated towards social media analytics. Many companies are still unable to create and implement a robust social media automation that actually works. Different platforms and tools are still growing to help with prospecting and delivering content to the right customers in the moment they need engagement. Industry experts agree that a more valuable concrete solution is desperately needed to take advantage of this relatively untouched resource. They hypothesize the best solution is some sort of a collaboration between apps, networks and platforms all integrated with a marketing dashboard for end to end reporting of the impact social analytics has across the customer journey.

Trend #2: Invest more in the video and podcast bandwagon

These avenues are and will continue to become the best ways to engage audiences using visuals, colors, sounds and/or music. This also works in tandem with trend #1 because a great video will help build brand loyalty and trust by enriching a prospective customer’s journey. Convenience and sometimes necessity are enabling more video and podcast use, especially among those with a preference of “watching the movie” or “listening to the audio book” rather than actually “reading the book.” According to the newest edition of the DMA statistical fact book, 4 times as many consumers prefer digestible video content to plain text. Even Nicola Mendelssohn from Facebook says it will “probably’ be “all video” in 5 years. There is also an Edison research study that revealed approximately 46 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly, and the average user listens to six a week. Huge corporations are already taking advantage of this such as GE and Netflix who each have their own podcasts with registered listeners. As for future video content, Yahoo is a pioneer and has begun to allow you to take out full-screen auto-play video ads on their homepage. You may sometimes even see pop up type movie previews before accessing their main site.

Trend #3: Becoming as ‘human’ as possible in a digital world as fans want to know the people behind the brand and feel that they are understood.

It is widely accepted that the Internet knows more about you than the coworker sitting 2 feet away from you, so it is easy to understand the increase in paid searches and pay-per-click type of advertising over the last several years. Unfortunately, this strategy can become expensive if you do not have a flawless keyword strategy, and not to mention that there many flaws ranging from generating irrelevant site visits to making people feel they are being spammed in their web searches. Reaching your target market in a more organic type of way using blogs and user reviews has been the best way to establish legitimacy in your respective industry. Focusing more on the journey of a prospective customer and painting a perspective of helping them to buy rather than just selling them is something to look forward to in 2017. An excellent method of establishing this is through a more interactive mobile app with innovative sales and promotions geared towards making a consumer feel like they are part of an exclusive group. For example, the T-mobile Tuesdays app has an offer every week from free dominos pizza to a free Samsung Galaxy phone. There is also Target’s rewards app which uses advanced beacon technology to put offers directly in the hands of their customers as they walk through the store.

Trend #4: Focus more on the Pragmatic approach to building your brand

Stay consistent and make sure your message is always clear through all channels on what your brand is and what it is not as this vision will be your guide towards sound decision making. The right message at the right time can guarantee success where as bad timing or the wrong message will incur a huge setback or even total failure. Take care of your employees and empower them to carry on the clear and compelling message to all customers and stakeholders. The pragmatic approach will continue to increase faster than content of audience-based advertising. Most of the successful companies in the upcoming year will deliver this seamless, relevant user experience to drive true outcome-based results.

Trend #5: Stay Mobile friendly and start becoming wearable friendly

This is a bit of old news but just in case you haven’t heard, make sure Google thinks your site is mobile friendly. It is surprising that many companies are still dragging their feet on this as well as on increasing their Google ranking, but this should be a top priority for any and all brands. It is also very important that content be coded extremely well for customers to be able to transition smoothly not only from a desktop to mobile, but also from any of those 2 to a wearable device. In 2017, it is projected that 1 out of ever 4 U.S. consumers will be using a wearable device, so be sure to take this into consideration when planning a future budget. This means there will be even more data on every move the specific target market is making, and we must be prepared to produce and distribute content to fit each individual target buyer accordingly.

Influencer Marketing: Finding the Right Social Infuencer

Finding an influencer to represent a product, service, or message; Through, post, blog, or video isn’t a minor or easy task.  Many variables need to be addressed when choosing the appropriate influencer.  An important variable to look at first, is the demographics of the influencer’s following. Specifics when evaluating the influencers demographics can be vast.  Start by looking at the primary location of the influencers following, platform popularity, & top age ranges.  As mentioned above, many variables play into identifying the right influencer. This article will only be discussing demographics & the specific subsets of demographics listed above.

Influencers can be found all over the world but a product, service, or message maybe only needed to be influenced regionally or nationally.  Knowing the country that an influencer is popular in is easy to figure out, but it’s imperative to know what parts of the country make up the primary following of the influencer. An example of this is finding an Influencer that has a great following for a specific market or subject with a primary following found in the Pacific Northwest.  The target or subject maybe perfect but the geographical primary location of the influencer’s following, may not match the one that is being targeted.  This is why understanding an influencers geographic popularity is important.  Often the easiest tool to review is the analytics. Most influencers will provide you with his or her specific following details (platform or search engine analytics).  Other ways to research this is by finding where the influencer is based out of. Many times the core following of a micro influencer revolves around where the influencer is living.  Reviewing past posts, blogs, or videos could reveal regional slang or mentions. If further research is still needed, try perusing through the influencers engagements and/or comments.

Influencers use a plethora of platforms to connect with their followers. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Youtube, WordPress, etc.   It’s important to take into consideration where the influencer has the most popularity. Each platform prepares a message differently. It is significant to figure out which platform is best to showcase a specific companies’ product, service, or message.  Influencers typically have popularity in more than one platform. However, they usually have one primary platform that shines over the others.  Knowing where the company will best be represented is a great variable to evaluate. Some platforms bring new excitement to users, some are used out of comfort, while some signify popularity to niche sub cultures.  This could also reveal a new value associated to the influencer.  By taking a look at the overall demographics of a platform and comparing them to the demographics of the influencer’s following, may be able to show a solid platform following or a rarity.  A rarity pertaining to the following of the influencer may raise question, or add value to the influencer.

The most popular age ranges of the influencer is another important variable.   Micro influencers typically have an age range that prefer to follow them.  Majority of the time the age range falls in line with the age of the influencer.  Sometimes an influencer may be popular discussing an industry, subject, or topic that is popular amongst an age range different than their own.   Knowing the age range is important. Make sure this variable matches correctly before choosing the influencer.

As mentioned above finding the right influencer for a company is a detail oriented task. Demographics are extremely important & a great first variable to look at when searching for the perfect influencer. In conclusion, a company should take its time when choosing an influencer.  If a company cannot see its product, service, or message genuinely being used, appreciated, or promoted by the influencer; Then the Influencer, most likely may not be the right match for the company.  Keep in mind the influencers following will see right through it, & the company will not get the ROI its looking for.

 

All Influencers Are Not Created Equal: How to Analyze Social Influencers

When it comes to choosing the right influencer for your product, service, or message choosing the right influencer is extremely important.   Keep in mind certain industries & topics have a larger selection of influencers to choose from. While some industries & topics are very limited. Obviously, the bigger the pool of influencers the pickier one can be when making selections. If the influencer pool for a certain industry or topic does not showcase an influencer that looks promising, it’s best not to settle on a sub-par influencer. The strategy then would be, to look at a macro influencer that crosses into the industry or has credibility indirectly on the topic. If there is still not a viable option, then be patient and continue to research other influencers. Let’s take a look at different variables that come into play when researching which influencers are best.

Look at the influencer’s following, in its entirety. Typically, an influencer has a primary platform that their following uses. However, their core following often follows them on other platforms too. Look at the primary platform and all other platforms used, to better quantify the overall following of the influencer. Next you want to look at the influencers average engagement per blog, video, or social entry. If an influencer has a following of 100k on Facebook, & an average engagement of 2k per entry that gives you a better understanding of how active the influencers following really is. It can also reveal which topics, photo types, etc. get the most engagement for that specific influencer. Many other quantifications can stem from the influencer’s total following. Take the time needed to evaluate.

Influencer vs. Influencer often sizes up how valuable an influencer is with regards to an industry or topic. Influencers are very proud of what they place onto the internet and pride themselves on their following but often overlook the importance of hierarchy. Why is this important, because an influencer may value themselves at a price point that is not justifiable. One easy way to justify an influencers valuation is by comparing their stats to some similar influencers. Some qualitative factors need to be pointed out because no influencer is exactly the same but a range of where an influencer should be is ultimately what you’re looking for. Also keep in mind a micro influencer is a micro influencer, and a macro influencer is a macro influencer.     Often micro influencers get this confused and believe that they are in fact a macro influencer when in reality they are not. It’s not to say one is more valuable than the other but it’s important to size up influencers based on what they really are. Some influencers are jaded on reality but it doesn’t mean the company selecting its influencers have to be.

These are just a couple variables that should be researched when selecting the right influencer for a company. It’s important to understand every influencer is a little different and just because they have a successful following in regards to a specific industry or topic doesn’t mean they would be a perfect fit for every company with in that industry or topic. If a company cannot see its product, service, or message genuinely being used, appreciated, or promoted by the influencer; Then the Influencer, most likely may not be the right match for the company.  Keep in mind the influencers following will see right through it, & the company will not get the ROI its looking for.

Influencer Marketing Ethical or Deceitful?

In the past year the authorship of articles having to deal with influencer marketing has sky rocketed. As more comments, shares, & engagements arise one statement finds itself to be most popular. Should companies be utilizing influencer marketing or is the internet marketing tool/strategy unethical.  In order to answer such a loaded question, the influencer, the follower, & the company need to be examined closer.  In the past, “certain companies” have used “specific campaigns” utilizing marketing tools & strategies that may have been seen by some to be misleading. However, to assume a specific tool or strategy misleads a consumer 100% of the time, regardless the company or influencer involved, may be a bit inaccurate or skewed.

When critiquing an influencer, the question that comes up: If an influencer is 100% genuine about a topic or subject matter, does their message become less genuine once they receive payment or free product from a company that they’re posting, videoing, or blogging about. The answer is no. Influencers do not just pop up overnight. Specifically, micro influencers spend a lot of energy creating quality postings. With quality comes credibility, with credibility comes traffic, & with traffic comes a regular following.  This does not come from deception it comes from genuineness & authenticity. Most micro influencers understand, the moment regular followers detect that they are not being 100% genuine, a credibility loss then occurs. A decrease in credibility, correlates to a direct decrease in regular following.  The regular following of an influencer is the most important thing an influencer has. They would never purposely do something that would result in a loss of followers.  With that being said, majority of the time the amount of company products, services, & messages that a micro influencer turns down, is at a far higher percentage than, of the ones that an influencer actually takes on.  Macro influencers have a little more wiggle room because of the vast following they have. However, they still take into consideration what they choose to influence.

When critiquing a follower, the question that’s comes up: How much does a follower need to know to ensure the follower understands whom he or she is following.  The time someone spends on the internet is very precious and internet browsing is nothing new.  The follower completely understands whom they choose to follow is a decision made, 100% by themselves. If a follower is not sure about a specific topic or subject matter discussed by an influencer, they have the ability to engage with question or comment directly with the influencer, and/or share the influencers post with friends and family to get perspective on what is being stated or shown.  When it comes to minors on the internet public and private filters are used to ensure influencers that post about adult subject matters are not easily accessed.  Followers ultimately hold the control pertaining to influencers.  If a follower has an inkling that an influencer is being disingenuous they have the ability to call out the influencer publicly, privately, & stop following them.   

When critiquing a company, the question that’s comes up: How much does a company really care if an influencer is genuine or not, when writing a post, video, or blog.  They care greatly. Why; because, the amazing thing about influencer marketing, is if an influencer is not speaking genuinely about a product, service, or message, the tool/ strategy will not work.  If you have read any of the past articles written about influencer marketing pertaining to companies, you will always see the same comment quoted here, “If a company cannot see its product, service, or message genuinely being used, appreciated, or promoted by the influencer; Then the Influencer, most likely may not be the right match for the company.  Keep in mind the influencers following will see right through it, & the company will not get the ROI its looking for”.    It’s very simple the product, service, or message has no short cuts when it comes to influencer marketing.

Companies should be utilizing influencer marketing as a marketing tool or strategy. Not only should it be used, it should be encouraged. If anything, Influencer marketing is bringing additional ethics to the internet, and we should embrace the tool & strategy, and build off of it.