As the digital world continues to grow and evolve, one thing is certain: Brands and marketeres need to adapt or fail in their marketing efforts. With so many new platforms emerging, the biggest challenge still remains the same, the challenge? The importance of understanding and building an engaged audience. Which is now compounded by so many new emerging platforms.
Building an audience is a long term commitment that requires understanding their needs, speaking in a language that is familiar to them, communicating using the right channels and providing engaging content that provides information about your product or service instead of trying to bombard your potential customer with ads.
Understanding your audience is the key to unlocking influence and growing your business. When it comes to audience development, there are no shortcuts. One of the biggest challenges is the fact that audiences are fragmented and the tools required to manage them are as well. Most audience development platform focus on one thing and one thing only which is either:
– Paid amplifcation via influencer platforms as sponsored videos or blog posts.
– Lead generation efforts to build custom email databases that can be appended with additional attributes to run cross-channel marketing campaigns.
There is however a better approach…
As digital media continues to grow in different directions, and new tools are created we are seeing a new business model evolving. Brands who truly understand their audiences and the power of content marketing and social media are catching up to this new model. Brands like: Nike , RedBull , Trivago and others are jumping on this new trend: The intersection of Content, Community and Commerce. As this pattern continues to grow, new platforms are moving away from fragmented models as well and incorporating these 3 elements into one single experience.
Snapper to Kirra have never looked so super.
— Red Bull Surfing (@RedBull_Surfing) April 13, 2017
Combining content as a discovery and engagement tool with community as a way to validate ideas and trends, and then injecting commerce to facilitate a transaction is the new and emerging model for companies that are using this winning formulate to: attract, engage and ultimately monetize an audience effectively.
The idea central to content marketing is that brands must give something valuable to get something valuable in return. Instead of the commercial, be the show. Instead of the banner ad, be the feature story. The value returned is often that people associate good things with – and return to engage with – the brand. – James O’Brien, Contently
— trivago (@trivago) April 10, 2017
Most brands spend a lot of money and resources to create great content and distribute it via social media platforms, newsletters, blogs, etc… in a very independent way, they also work on building a community leveraging some of the same assets, all with the idea of engaging and ultimately hoping to create a transaction but all this work is done in silos.
— Forrester (@forrester) April 12, 2017
Integrating your community building efforts with the understanding of what is the content your audience is reading and engaging with, and then providing a simple way to facilitate a transaction in all your marketing efforts is the new model in the age of content marketing. This trend will continue to grow and so will the new platforms that will make it easier to understand these intricate relationship between the 3 elements that worked so well for the brands riding this new digital trend.
A loyal community following could mean the difference between an ever-growing social fan base and having your platform fade into the rest of the social noise on the world wide web.
Your online tribe helps people stay connected and remain interested in your blog, product or company.
— Marsha Collier (@MarshaCollier) April 7, 2017
Building an engaged and loyal community creates visibility for your brand or publication, it serves as a platform to launch new products or services and a real time customer service platform.
Commerce and content have always co-existed, with the rise of content marketing; every retailer now has a story to tell, a picture to share, and a video to show.
With the perception of traditional advertising being negative and consumers having trust issues with ads, it’s no wonder brands are becoming publishers and rely on content marketing to educate and attract new customers.
In 2013, Lab24 carried out a sturdy that revealed how people feel about advertising. The results speak for themselves:
76% of people believe that ads are “very exaggerated” or “somewhat exaggerated”.
87% think half or more cleaning ads are photoshopped.
96% think half or more weight loss ads are photoshopped.
It is then natural to assume that this new trend of using content as an egagement and educational tool for prodcut discovery and engagement, while building an enaged social community, and facilitating a transaction by injecting commerce into all your digital publications; instead of tackling all these efforts in silos is a more efficient and convenient way to approach audience development.