The below presentation, The Content Marketing Revolution, kicked off our event at Social Media Week, a track of programming that was developed to explain how social and mobile have forever changed content marketing. Our ability to understand what happens next revolves around studying how technology not only changes media but also how it changes marketing and the marketer.
I realize calling anything a revolution can sound a bit silly. What I want to do is back up the statement with the changes in technology we are now living through and how the last 3 years have really changed media, marketing and marketers.
So let’s get started. First and foremost, we are Percolate. We are a company of about 100 people and growing based right here in NYC. We are 3 years old and if I could use one word to summarize us I would say, ambitious.
We have a vision to redefine marketing through technology and a goal to be the content marketing platform of record for every marketing department.
When Noah and I first started the company we struggled with the term content marketing. For years we stayed away from the term content marketing. It didn’t feel big enough, it felt dated and overall, it was poorly defined. You can look no further than Wikipedia right now to see what I’m talking about:
“Content marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.”
So what happened? How did everything change? Social was the original catalyst for a whole new way that we create content in the modern day. Social was what got Noah and I excited when we thought about building Percolate.
We were moving from a world where our clients asked us to build out year long campaign calendars…
…to a world of sustained communications, where marketers needed to figure out what to tweet about on a daily basis.
Noah and I knew the world had forever changed when marketing conversations moved in this direction. From campaign based communication to sustained communication. Our job was to start a company to solve these challenges and we went out in the market to make it happen.
In late 2010 though, the idea of social platforms and their businesses was still very much up in the air.
Facebook’s valuation in 2010 was considered to be “insane”. Employees were selling their shares on SecondMarket at a company valuation of $11 billion.
Everyone had an opinion on Twitter and almost all of them thought they would never make money.
LinkedIn was a professional networking site with no content or newsfeed. Updates were for when you were looking for a new job and changed your profile.
Google was a search company with no play in social.
There was no global social platform. Almost all leading platforms around the world were constrained to the country they were building in.
What social at this time did is it created a new category of marketing technology. What we call the second phase of marketing technology. The important thing to understand though is social at this time was still largely about the web and the technology reflected it. For a marketer, as the data showed from 2010, social wasn’t global or strategic.
What did social mean for the marketer in 2010?
On one end you had marketing technology that helped brands build microsites on Facebook. Remember Facebook tabs? Yes, I’m glad they are gone as well.
The other side of this new phase of marketing technology was customer service. Brands increasingly were made aware of the ability of others to help praise their brand or hold it hostage (war rooms!) and they bought technology to help with the monitoring and routing of customer conversations. Technology that is still in use and thriving to this day.
While social was important in 2010, it didn’t have the overall value we had come to find in the largest media companies. As well, there wasn’t a global play in social yet, as social platforms were largely siloed by the countries they were built in.
So what happened? How did social become the dominant, driving force it is today?
For marketers, mobile changed everything. Banners, gone. Flash, gone. Complicated site architectures that couldn’t translate to smaller form factors, gone. Social has been the benefactor of everything that mobile disrupted.
Most importantly, mobile consolidated us all. It taught us to swipe, capture and share… instantly. It also taught us that content would sit in the center of the experience and it would unite us all in the act of creating and sharing it together. Content creation and consumption now happen in the same stream.
The growth in mobile is like nothing we have ever seen before. Android recently passed one billion activations and iOS will pass 1B users sometime this year.
Facebook is now worth $163B and has 1.19 billion monthly active users. 874M of those users accessed the site from a mobile device. They also own one of the fastest growing mobile-first social platforms, Instagram.
Twitter has gone public. Almost all their growth and monetization is centered around Mobile.
Pinterest and Snapchat are the next up and coming platforms
This is a chart showing just how quickly a new player in social and mobile like WhatsApp can grow vs a traditional digital communication company like Skype.
UPDATE: WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for $19B in the largest ever venture capital acquisition.
Google has come out to say that G+ is the social spine of the company. Using G+ as the identity layer of Android.
Mobile totally changed the value chain and with it, new types of companies emerged.
You don’t have to look further than this graph to see just how much value has been created by social/mobile companies. They are now amongst the largest media companies in the world. For marketers it is important to realize that the market has voted and they believe that, in the future, more and more marketing will flow towards social/mobile companies and away from traditional media companies.
So with all this value and content created, what is next? What does it mean to be a marketer in 2014? We are in the midst of a great transition. How can the marketer capitalize?
Let’s start by understanding how technology is changing what it means to be a marketer. Noah has always talked about looking at these changes through the lens that Marshall Mcluhan looked at technology. McLuhan said, “The ‘message’ of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs.”
Scale: Global. Marketing is no longer about reaching millions, it is about reaching billions. Look where we were in 2009:
This is where we are now: Thanks to mobile and the consolidation of platforms, in just 4 short years we have been able to globally consolidate on platforms like Facebook and others. Twitter’s growth, along with most maturing social platforms, is international.
Social is also no longer a zero sum game. Multiple platforms can thrive in a social, mobile world and the individual platform numbers and their growth reflect this pattern.
Everything in the future is dictated by how it will perform in mobile. Creation and consumption happens in the same stream. All content needs to be shareable.
Pull to refresh is the most used gesture in the world.
Over 1 billion photos are shared daily across just four of the major social platforms – WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.
Even search, the last great business model of the pre social/mobile world, is dictated by social now.
As a marketer you need to think about systems that touch the whole organization and the massive global audiences that social and mobile now reach. The ability to do all this creates a new marketer.
The CMO and the marketing department have the potential to touch a much larger part of the organization than they ever did before. Every employee is on social and every employee is mobile. Never before, in the history of the enterprise, was there more of a transitional time for a department to expand their reach.
A marketer has to move from campaign-based communication to sustained communication.
What all these profound changes create is a new type of marketer. One that controls both messaging and systems inside of the organization. These changes can create a more strategic marketer that moves from an average tenure of 24 months as a CMO to being the most strategic executive in the organization after the CEO.
To conclude. The content marketing revolution is absolutely here.
Social was the catalyst for redefining Content Marketing
Mobile was the catalyst that changed the scale of social
Social is at the center of marketing, mobile is the vehicle, and content marketing is the best way into those essential spaces.
Finally, only about 40% of the world is connected to the internet. By 2018, almost everyone will be connected through mobile, social technologies. This will continue to have compounding effects on what it means to be a marketer.
We live in truly amazing times to be a marketer, let’s take advantage of it.