The marketing world has exploded with social content initiatives in the last few years, and when combined with the urgency and real-time expectations of audience and customers, and new marketing discipline has emerged, one that call “real time content marketing.” In the new world of real-time information-sharing, there are many new concepts that businesses must embrace in order to be successful in their Internet marketing efforts. At the root of this revolution are the following basic elements:
- Seeking and finding behaviors
- Real-time interaction and active participation
- Consideration for both audiences and individuals
- Social-network distribution
- Instantaneous information-sharing, collaboration, and engagement
- Content promotion
Real-time information-sharing demands a more finely tuned approach from marketers, one that includes a redefinition of the word publishing and also brings a business alive on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis.
The emergence of the commercial Internet in the mid-1990s presented a new publishing paradigm that forced marketers to rethink their approaches, in terms of the ability to connect one-to-one and many-to-many with their core audience. Today, eMarketer reports that two out of every three Americans engage in social networks, so a more accurate characterization of social networks is that society as a whole is almost fully networked. When including search and email usage in overall network participation statistics, as many as 92 percent of all people are networked in some form, according to the May 2011 Pew Internet and American Life survey.
With the adoption of status-updating and sharing, a message can spread around the globe within hours, minutes, and even seconds. If marketers and brands are not part of the content conversation in either their own brand space or the broader category space, they might as well not exist to a certain degree.
Although more companies are becoming increasingly connected, the concepts of being present and active most often fall by the wayside. Many companies spend years redesigning their websites. Others look at social media in a start-and-stop manner, and by doing so they are allowing social networks to fully control their marketing conversation by simply ignoring it. Marketers and enterprise brands are also finding that the barriers built to protect themselves in the old media world have now become the very obstacles that prevent them from being effective in this new environment.
The good news is that by knowing the problem, you can start to address the solution. The solution for marketers is all-encompassing and will require the following:
- Organizational shifts from passive to real-time engagement
- A redefining of audience
- A redefining of brand to include the audience
- In some cases, a redefinition of business practices
- A greater commitment to sincerity
- A reworking of the definition of social media to become more inclusive of search principles
- A deep understanding and executional capability in search and findability issues
- A deep understanding of building out earned attention in social networks
- A redefinition of the word publishing
- A commitment to being a “marketer as media publisher”
Another major shift is in the way content is found. Now more than ever, publishers and marketers must label content and make it shareable so that it can be found at the most granular level of search or social relevancy. The process of finding might involve a search engine, social or popularity-based results list, discovery streams, or network sharing. Each of these aspects presents new challenges for marketers that must be addressed in order to properly maximize the opportunity of marketing on the Internet and networks. The greatest difference between marketing efforts of today and pre-Internet is the rising importance of being present and always-on. This new landscape—one that has really achieved a new level of fluidity and agility only in the mid- to late aughts through the rapid adoption of social- and network-based content-sharing sites— creates a new urgency for marketers to be part of an
“in-the-moment” conversation that occurs 24/7 about their brand or company and about the general consumer conversation at large. Ultimately, the sum of many missed moments in this new landscape will be the death of some companies, and this embracing of “right now” will be the ascension of many others.
Rob is a longtime digital marketing strategist who has worked with some of the worlds biggest and smallest companies. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, and is the author of “Search and Social: The Definitive Guide to Real-Time Content Marketing,” Wiley/Sybex.