If you've yet to read Joe Pulizzi's 42+ Social Media and Content Marketing Predictions for 2009 you should because it contains some eye-opening predictions from leading marketing professionals.
While, as you might expect, there is a wide range and divergence of opinion, some themes emerge.
- Advertising will gradually be replaced by information.
- Content and conversational marketing strategies will converge.
- Social media marketing will continue to gain acceptance
Let's take these one at a time.
Advertising replaced by information
Internet pioneer Dave Winer once said, “Advertising will get more and more targeted until it disappears, because perfectly targeted advertising is just information. And that's good!”
Several trends in consumer behavior support Dave's prediction.
- Consumers are more and more skeptical of marketing/advertising messages
- Media fragmentation continues to spiral out of control
- Consumers are increasingly in control
- Companies are held to higher levels of accountability
- Companies are forced to minimize waste and better target advertising
Not only that, but considering the economic downturn, marketing budgets are tightening (I know mine is), traditional media is failing and advertising is sure to follow.
Look for increased emphasis on content creation as company Web sites begin to resemble media properties. As David Meerman Scott said to us at the New Marketing Summit in October, "Journalists are the new marketers."
Content is still king and will become increasingly so in 2009.
Content and conversation converge
Content will come in many forms: Blogs, articles, video, webinars, podcasts, whitepapers, etc. And it won't be all professionally-created. In fact, there will continue to be a mashup of professionally-written and user-generated content.
One site experimenting with this model is the Women's Wisdom Network, an online community for business women aged 35 and above that combines contributions from both members and subject-matter experts. (Disclaimer: I'm on the Board of Advisors for this site.)
While WWN has a ways yet to go in creating the perfect balance (some technical hurdles have yet to be overcome), it is a exemplar of the type of site you may see brand marketers develop over time.
Content and conversation will play a role where search engine optimization is concerned. This is significant enough that it should perhaps be a separate point altogether.
Thanks to universal search, content is now pulled from many quarters, including media sites like YouTube, Flickr and others. Content from well-established social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and, yes, Twitter is beginning to emerge as well. Of course, the word BLOG still stands for Better Listings On Google, and companies are well-advised to use them as part of their content marketing strategy.
To borrow (and slightly twist) a phrase from Bizzuka CEO John Munsell, "If content is king, then conversation is queen." (Just for the record he actually said, "If content is king, then conversion is queen," but my variation works for this post.)
Social media marketing will continue to gain acceptance
This is inevitable. Social media is here to stay. There are many who suggest that it's already reached the mainstream and with Facebook now reaching over 150 million users worldwide, it's easy to see why they make that assertion. Blog adoption continues to grow, albeit at a more even pace. There is even increased interest in the use of RSS.
Whether it happens in 2009 or beyond, social media will take its place alongside other forms of marketing, both online and off. It will not replace other forms necessarily, but be a companion to them.
In light of these predictions, my strategy for marketing Bizzuka in 2009 is three-fold:
Create valuable, relevant content via blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars, email newsletters, whitepapers and articles. This includes creating sponsored, branded content via User Friendly Thinking and my Conversational Media Marketing blog.
Continue our foray into social media via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. This may also include the creation of our own branded social network, but that remains to be seen. It most certainly includes getting more of our employees to participate in social media. Much of the traffic to the Bizzuka site now comes from these sources and we are beginning to see leads generated from them as well, so it only makes sense to continue to experiment in this laboratory.
Focus on traditional onpage and offpage SEO with particular emphasis on making our content search-engine friendly.
Except factoring in time as an expenditure, almost all of what we're talking about here takes very little money. And it is a feasible approach many small to medium businesses could and should consider taking in the coming year.
What are your marketing predictions for 2009? In what ways are you changing your approach in light of the economic crisis?