In the world of online marketing, search and social media are evolving at an incredible pace.
Social media is hot, but is by no means mutually exclusive of search. Search has expanded beyond Google and marketers must now consider other search channels such as internal Facebook search and mobile search as channels where customers are looking.
The intersection of search engine and social media innovations are in flux with dynamics of changing consumer preferences for information discovery, consumption and sharing. The blur of all this change is an opportunity for brands and marketers to engage an active marketing strategy that converges the disciplines of search, social media, content and online public relations.
I believe the future of marketing brings the best of these disciplines together. To meet consumer needs, whether it’s B2B or B2C, it’s inevitable that PR will know SEO and Social Media Marketers with be versed in media relations.
Because there are so many information sources online, sales cycles are getting longer. Customers expect more than being presented with features and benefits followed by a call to action.
For marketers, it’s not better to just give more. “Better” is better. Better content, better visibility in all the places customers might looking or influenced by. It also means a better experience in brand / consumer interactions.
For example, searchers expect not only to find what they’re looking for on a search engine, but to interact with the results through commenting, rating, joining as well as buying. A purchase is just the start of social engagement with customers and customer marketing with social media continues to be a growth area.
Active online marketing pays attention to those customer needs and creates a dynamic cycle of social and search interaction. Creating customer experiences that are easily discovered through search or social and continuously evaluating what works and what doesn’t will inform marketer’s subsequent editorial, optimization and social media marketing efforts.
There are so many changes and much to look forward to in 2011. Here are three areas in particular (of many) that I think marketers should pay attention to in the coming year:
Content Marketing – This area has been popularized in the past year by people like Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute and brands are indeed adopting a publisher model of marketing through content. Content extends beyond the browser and includes mobile, social and any other kind of search. This will only continue and get increasingly competitive for those that can afford to scale original content creation.
Content Curation – The sheer volume of content out there now is overwhelming with social publishing platforms online and mobile making it incredibly easy to create and share. Original content creation is expensive to scale and creatively challenging in the long term. Content curation serves as an efficient model for marketers to engage consumers as a source of signal amongst the noise. Note: our client HiveFire offers a very good content curation tool for enabling this.
Social Commerce – Companies like Minneapolis based Alvenda are empowering ecommerce on Facebook with brands like Brooks Brothers, Delta Airlines and Best Buy. It’s still early days for social commerce but if companies can make it part of the social experience, I think it will serve as true channel for Social Media ROI.
I think the future of marketing is dynamic, challenging and full of promise for companies that can commit themselves to a process of testing, engagement, coordinating cross channel efforts and refinement.