Since the emergence of the Internet, two major trends have changed the content and marketing landscape, with marketers in SMEs and brands having to react as these trends have played out.
The first is that companies had to become increasingly like publishers, as search engines such as Google and Bing rewarded them for producing engaging content with better positions in their rankings. The nature of the Internet and network effect also made this content a powerful marketing tool when widely shared. The key was producing engaging content, attracting links and social engagements – producing poor content didn’t cut it.
As such SMEs and brands began to produce a rich array of content including blogs, podcasts, videos, etc.; becoming impressive publishers as they did. Our rankings of the biggest brands on social media tips a cap to the most successful brand publishers and shows how effectively they’ve responded.
The Rise of Content Marketing Analytics
The other trend, and another market reaction, was a growing range of analytics tools being developed to empower marketers with improved understanding of fertile content themes to exploit, content types to produce and performance of content in their sector – their brand’s and their competitors’.
These analytics tools helped marketers see what content types had collected links from external web properties, how many links had been earned and what sort of sites had been responsible for the link profiles of brands. Other tools showed what velocity of link building brands had been achieving and a range of other data points which helped marketers calculate the levels of content marketing competition in a sector and what investment and resources might need to be deployed to compete.
I remember years of digging into the link profiles of brands, using tools such as Moz’s Open Site Explorer, Majestic and SEO Profiler, as I too lived within this trend, spending countless hours of time staring at data exports in Excel files to understand content marketing trends.
The Emergence of Social Media in These Trends
Then, in the post social media world, new analytics tool appeared, measuring social signals collected on this SME and brand content, revealing statistics such as how many social engagements were being achieved across these content portfolios, from which social platforms and at what velocity. These social analytics tools have further empowered marketers with new layers of data to better plan, strategically and tactically.
I personally benefited from the use of tools such as FollowerWonk, Simply Measured and Quintly, as myself and other marketing friends also reacted to the rise of major social platforms and their implications for planning and measuring content marketing.
In 2015, with these trends now forcefully affecting content and marketing more generally, marketers are producing record levels of content, whilst using a range of tools to measure their content marketing performance. Roles such as Chief Content Officer now exist in Fortune 500 firms and brands such as Warby Parker even invest in their annual reports, turning them into impressive content pieces. Tech firms Google and Facebook have also played pre-eminent roles in driving these trends.
Now Everyone has a Content Marketing Tool Kit
With the impact of these trends now deeply felt, new challenges have emerged for marketers. In the early days of content marketing, early adopters enjoyed large benefits from using new powerful analytics tools. But, as the years rolled by these tools became widely adopted as all marketers strove to keep up-to-date.
It was like a content marketing arms race and once someone had a new analytics app and performance advantage, similar to an atomic bomb in an actual arms race, everyone else had to have one. Everyone now has a content marketing tool kit, composed of a range of smart technologies and apps.
As a result, forward thinking marketers are always looking at the next development in marketing analytics, to see what direction new innovation will head and what it means for their SME or brand’s marketing strategies. Being the first to adopt and successfully leverage new tech is key and CMOs have increasingly become masters of many technologies, as their role has become ever more complex and technical.
So, what new important innovations and tools are shaping marketing today?
Real-time Content Marketing is No Longer a Pipe Dream
I think, after years of new tools helping marketers look in the rear view mirror – seeing what content has worked, when, where and why – future innovation in content marketing is going to become all about real-time.
The improving strategic view marketers were achieving with previous new tools was very much a historical one, illuminating marketing tactics and success in their sector, over the long term and medium term. Even if a short-term view was possible, it certainly wasn’t real-time. A good example of this is Majestic, a tool I know well and love, but which by crawling backlinks twice a day, perhaps isn’t real-time enough to show marketers what linking trends are happening right now. (This is no slight on Majestic and no doubt the challenges involved in real-time crawling of link profiles in the Web are enormous, even for Google.)
Few tools had been developed that allowed content marketing to be truly agile, responding to instant shifts in markets and the changing interest in SME and brands’ audiences. However, this is set to change.
The Power of NewsWhip Spike for Marketers and Content Gurus
New tools such as Spike from NewsWhip – a dashboard showing brands what’s trending with their audience in real-time via Social Velocity metrics – are being developed to further empower marketers.
Our Spike dashboard has become heavily used by publishers around the world, helping them identify news stories taking off and changes in audience interest, to then agilely respond with content to match these short-term trends. We’re proud that our technology drives meaningful results too, with numbers of our clients doubling their readership and reach after using Spike as their key discovery tools.
Short-term interest trends around RedBull content in Spike
And now, remembering once more that brands are becoming ever more like publishers, we’re seeing marketers start to understand the power of Spike, as a new tool in their content marketing toolkit.
Major brands, in markets as diverse as banking, credit and various types of technology, are now using Spike to add a real-time edge to their content marketing and their communications too. If you’re a major brand trying to increase your awareness and brand equity within a specific demographic, being able to react to content trends interesting this demographic, in real-time, is a powerful new ability.
Brands Acting Like Publishers, Again
We’re seeing our brand clients using Spike more and more similarly to the likes of BBC, Guardian and Huffington Post, supplementing the strategic benefits of their view in the rear view mirror with real-time social signals that can guide content strategy and how they talk to their audiences online today.
Trending signals, mostly gathered from social media, have important implications for many sectors. Marketing is no exception to this rule.
Short-term interest trends around Nike product in Spike
These signals show what is really engaging an audience now, what matters this minute to target demographics and how powerful this interest trend is. Our Social Velocity scores are thus powerful bottom-up signals, for marketers as well as publishers and newsrooms. We believe that the crowd isn’t dumb, it knows what it likes and these social signals have profound implications for marketers.
We noted the content hit that Ben and Jerry’s achieved in June – with its ‘I dough, I dough campaign’ smartly and tastefully working the marriage equality debate – but, could such a brand improve the reach of its content and message even further by monitoring and reacting to short-term social interest trends within this larger issue? We think so.
How the marketing industry responds to these social trending signals, and the apps supplying them, will be fascinating to behold. One thing is becoming increasing clear though – the future of content marketing is real-time.