The Internet consists of two mega trends. One, of course, is its mobility. The other is the opportunity for in-stream marketing.
This stream, best represented by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Buzzfeed, the Yahoo home page, and innumerable, mostly mobile experiences, is a new media phenomenon on five counts:
- It represents a new paradigm in media consumption, with associated new challenges in content and advertising development; we call this social creativity that can be kept, used and shared.
- The stream allows you to listen, to resolve problems for individuals and, by extension, for wider audiences.
- The stream is a source of authority signals, which inform the organic and paid algorithms of all search and social platforms, increasing relevance, raising rankings and reducing the cost of paid media in those channels.
- The stream allows for the distribution of native advertising at scale.
- Perhaps most importantly, the stream is becoming a mechanism for driving traffic to other digital and physical platforms, and represents a soft ‘opt-in’ that allows a new kind of push to user constituencies. If you believe that opted-in audiences are of intrinsic value, then so is active participation in the stream.
The stream is a challenging environment, and currents are unpredictable. So marketers attempting to navigate these waters must ask themselves several questions:
- What voice do I adopt?
- What is the source of my publishing narrative? Is it my own or do I appropriate it?
- How do I respond to feedback? Do brands talk to individuals or cohorts?
- How do I nurture my community in a way that prevents the disappearance of my narrative into algorithmic oblivion?
- How closely do I listen? What is my responsibility to act on what I hear?
- What services do I provide, if any?
- How do I pre-empt and respond to crises?
- How do I adjust to the notion of light touch social creativity? How do I find the balance between information provision, engagement and the propensity to share?
- How is every asset optimized for discovery?
- How is organic virality created and identified in time to apply the accelerant of paid media?
- How much resource can I afford to the supply to the demands of community relationship management?
- How do I address compliance issues at the speed of the stream?
- How do I set appropriate KPIs for each stream?
The challenges are legion, but the rewards are potentially great, both economically and socially. The idea of brand communication programs with significant opt-in and stakeholder participation is highly attractive. Any entity that champions responsive customer relations has the potential to create different levels of engagement and advocacy from those that don’t.
Rob Norman is Chief Digital Officer Global of GroupM. Rob’s principle tasks are developing theinteraction organization within GroupM, developing positioning and thought leadership and leading the interaction contribution to business development. You can reach Rob at @robnorman or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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