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Influencer Marketing: Google Changes The Game by @DanCristo

Daniel Newman

I hear a lot of buzz about influencer marketing — how it has evolved, how it comes in different flavors and how brands are using it — but I never hear anyone talk about Google’s plans to change it… dramatically!

An emerging channel

googleWhen brands first began to capitalize on the power of influencer marketing, they tried to do so with casual and subtle efforts that often included complimentary products or other perks. Moreover, they usually kept their efforts “under the radar.” Traditional blogger outreach programs are a good example of this, where brands would give product samples to bloggers in exchange for a blog post or two.

But traditional blogger outreach has changed considerably. Large blogger communities like TriberrSverve and TapInfluence have evolved into transparent marketplaces where influencers and brands can collaborate to develop content and get the word out. Such marketplaces allow influencers to post their offerings, audiences and pricing so that brands can select the profiles that best align with their needs.

(Full disclosure: Seeing the early shift from blogger outreach to influencer marketing a few years ago, I helped Triberr migrate the platform in that direction.)

$285 Bid

Despite the evolution of influencer marketing thus far, it’s still an emerging channel. We’re just starting to recognize its full potential impact. Today, many brands use it for micro-campaigns here and there; but, I believe influencer marketing will evolve into a core digital marketing channel for content creation and distribution. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see its evolution follow the same trajectory that search marketing did.

Why will this happen? Two reasons:

Reason #1: The playing field is ready

Influencer marketing will evolve into a core marketing channel in part because of existing market conditions.

First off, the social web is on fire! Millions of people participate in online communities, and their numbers continue to grow. As members of different online communities, many individuals cultivate a personal following online. Today, someone could easily have 100,000 followers on Twitter, or receive 200,000 views a month on their food blog. These are the new celebrities that brands want to work with. This massive and rapidly growing talent pool will help fuel the growth of influencer marketing.

At the same time, we live in a world where influence is constantly being measured online. In fact, at this very moment, companies like Klout, Kred and PeerIndex are sorting through millions of social actions, scoring people on how influential they are. These scores will help influencer marketing evolve by making the channel more scalable. In some ways, influencer marketing is really the next phase of social.

Granted, most people don’t care what their influence score is, but brands do — or at least they should, as consumers are losing trust in brands. According to a study done by Nielsen that measures consumer trust by marketing channel53% of all consumers do not trust TV advertisements.

Yet, as you can see in the Nielsen Global Trust Survey below, 70% of consumers trust other consumer opinions posted online, and 92% trust recommendations from people they know. These friends and fellow consumers are influencers who are changing purchase behavior.

Given that, every brand manager reading this article should be asking themselves, “How do I get these influencers to talk about my product more online?”

Clearly, the lack of consumer trust in brands is another market condition that will help drive the growth of influencer marketing into a core channel.

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Reason #2: Google’s bebut of a new player — influencer ads

The growth and adoption of influencer marketing will also be driven by Google and their plans toroll out advertising based on Google+. I think this could dramatically escalate the evolution of this channel into a core discipline.

In a patent entitled, “AdHeat Advertisement Model for Social Network,” Google reveals that their new advertising model won’t be based on keywords and the same old sidebar ads we’ve grown to hate on sites like Facebook, etc. Instead, the new model will capitalize on influencers.

Filed in 2009, and updated in 2012, the patent indicates that the new model will enable brands to target influential people on Google+, offering them a revenue share in return for advertising/pushing content to their followers on behalf of a brand.

In other words, while Facebook continues to display ads onto smaller screens, Google is connecting brands with influencers who will be paid to distribute brand content. This is the very heart of influencer marketing, and is probably the biggest marketing opportunity of this decade.

On the organic side, influence has already begun to erode long-standing SEO practices. Today, there is a growing importance on “who” is sharing you content, while on-page keyword optimization and in-bound links take a back seat to social sharing.

What’s old is new, as SEOs will need to dust off their old relationship management skills to find and work with these social influencers at scale.

Are you ready?

Trust me, influencer marketing will continue to evolve into a core marketing channel — and sooner than you think. But you don’t have to wait for it to arrive; you can start preparing for it today. Below are a few tips to help you get ready:

1. Build your foundation with customer profiles

Remember, influence is relative — Oprah may be highly influential to middle-aged women, but not so much to young men. To understand the type of influencers you need to rank for your desired keyword or to make your content go viral, you first need to know your customer — what they like, who they know and where they spend time online.

Fortunately, the social networks and data aggregators have already compiled this type of information for you. All you need to do is give consumers a reason to log in to your site with their Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn profile, and you’ll have access to much of their profile information. Once you start building customer profiles, you can begin to mine them for common interests, likes, and behaviors. Your findings will help you identify the attributes of those who are most relevant and influential to your target demographic.

2. Strengthen your content marketing team

While it is essential to target the right influencers for your campaign, your effort won’t get very far without great content. Keep in mind that your targeted influencers are people who make a living off their reputation and earned trust.

They won’t endorse content that is low budget, low quality or churned out by an intern or meme-generator. Given that, you should work to improve your content marketing program now. This will help you produce great material your influencers will want to share with their following. Alternatively, you can have the influencer create the content. But either way, you need a solid content strategy.

Below is the framework I use:

  • Ideation: Research, planning and storytelling
  • Development: Brand created- or influencer-created content
  • Optimization: Ensure content sees maximum reach and engagement
  • Distribution: Share and syndicate
  • Reporting: Track engagement and performance

The sooner you have the tools and processes in place to execute a successful content marketing campaign, the better positioned you’ll be when you start to integrate influencer support into each step of your effort.

3. Don’t be shallow — Pick quality talent

The deepest relationships are often the best, and this holds true for influencer marketing. Strive to foster a deeper level of engagement with your influencers. The best type of influencer is the brand ambassador — someone who fully represents your brand to their audience. Think of howRackspace partnered with Robert Scoble to be their Startup Liaison Officer. You will gain a lot more value from having a team of bloggers, YouTubers or G+ers who are proud to represent your brand to their audience than you would from buying a few likes on Fiverr.

Influencer marketing is more than a hot topic — it’s is an important and emerging channel. And now that Google is getting into the game, you can bet it will evolve rapidly. Soon, it will touch everything! But are you ready to talk to influencers? More importantly, are you ready for influencers to talk about you? Follow the above tips and start getting ready today.

How are you using influencer marketing today? Have any influencer marketing tips? Share them here!

Image credit: Shutterstock

This post was originally featured on MarketingLand.com and can be found here. It has been republished here with express permission from the Author. 

 

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About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies. Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book "The Millennial CEO." Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter. Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5). A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist

Why 3D Printed Food Just Transformed Your Supply Chain

Hans Thalbauer

Numerous sectors are experimenting with 3D printing, which has the potential to disrupt many markets. One that’s already making progress is the food industry.

The U.S. Army hopes to use 3D printers to customize food for each soldier. NASA is exploring 3D printing of food in space. The technology could eventually even end hunger around the world.

What does that have to do with your supply chain? Quite a bit — because 3D printing does more than just revolutionize the production process. It also requires a complete realignment of the supply chain.

And the way 3D printing transforms the supply chain holds lessons for how organizations must reinvent themselves in the new era of the extended supply chain.

Supply chain spaghetti junction

The extended supply chain replaces the old linear chain with not just a network, but a network of networks. The need for this network of networks is being driven by four key factors: individualized products, the sharing economy, resource scarcity, and customer-centricity.

To understand these forces, imagine you operate a large restaurant chain, and you’re struggling to differentiate yourself against tough competition. You’ve decided you can stand out by delivering customized entrees. In fact, you’re going to leverage 3D printing to offer personalized pasta.

With 3D printing technology, you can make one-off pasta dishes on the fly. You can give customers a choice of ingredients (gluten-free!), flavors (salted caramel!), and shapes (Leaning Towers of Pisa!). You can offer the personalized pasta in your restaurants, in supermarkets, and on your ecommerce website.

You may think this initiative simply requires you to transform production. But that’s just the beginning. You also need to re-architect research and development, demand signals, asset management, logistics, partner management, and more.

First, you need to develop the matrix of ingredients, flavors, and shapes you’ll offer. As part of that effort, you’ll have to consider health and safety regulations.

Then, you need to shift some of your manufacturing directly into your kitchens. That will also affect packaging requirements. Logistics will change as well, because instead of full truckloads, you’ll be delivering more frequently, with more variety, and in smaller quantities.

Next, you need to perfect demand signals to anticipate which pasta variations in which quantities will come through which channels. You need to manage supply signals source more kinds of raw materials in closer to real time.

Last, the source of your signals will change. Some will continue to come from point of sale. But others, such as supplies replenishment and asset maintenance, can come direct from your 3D printers.

Four key ingredients of the extended supply chain

As with our pasta scenario, the drivers of the extended supply chain require transformation across business models and business processes. First, growing demand for individualized products calls for the same shifts in R&D, asset management, logistics, and more that 3D printed pasta requires.

Second, as with the personalized entrees, the sharing economy integrates a network of partners, from suppliers to equipment makers to outsourced manufacturing, all electronically and transparently interconnected, in real time and all the time.

Third, resource scarcity involves pressures not just on raw materials but also on full-time and contingent labor, with the necessary skills and flexibility to support new business models and processes.

And finally, for personalized pasta sellers and for your own business, it all comes down to customer-centricity. To compete in today’s business environment and to meet current and future customer expectations, all your operations must increasingly revolve around rapidly comprehending and responding to customer demand.

Want to learn more? Check out my recent video on digitalizing the extended supply chain.

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Hans Thalbauer

About Hans Thalbauer

Hans Thalbauer is the Senior Vice President, Extended Supply Chain, at SAP. He is responsible for the strategic direction and the Go-To-Market of solutions for Supply Chain, Logistics, Engineering/R&D, Manufacturing, Asset Management and Sustainability at SAP.

How to Design a Flexible, Connected Workspace 

John Hack, Sam Yen, and Elana Varon

SAP_Digital_Workplace_BRIEF_image2400x1600_2The process of designing a new product starts with a question: what problem is the product supposed to solve? To get the right answer, designers prototype more than one solution and refine their ideas based on feedback.

Similarly, the spaces where people work and the tools they use are shaped by the tasks they have to accomplish to execute the business strategy. But when the business strategy and employees’ jobs change, the traditional workspace, with fixed walls and furniture, isn’t so easy to adapt. Companies today, under pressure to innovate quickly and create digital business models, need to develop a more flexible work environment, one in which office employees have the ability to choose how they work.

SAP_Digital_Emotion_BRIEF_image175pxWithin an office building, flexibility may constitute a variety of public and private spaces, geared for collaboration or concentration, explains Amanda Schneider, a consultant and workplace trends blogger. Or, she adds, companies may opt for customizable spaces, with moveable furniture, walls, and lighting that can be adjusted to suit the person using an unassigned desk for the day.

Flexibility may also encompass the amount of physical space the company maintains. Business leaders want to be able to set up operations quickly in new markets or in places where they can attract top talent, without investing heavily in real estate, says Sande Golgart, senior vice president of corporate accounts with Regus.

Thinking about the workspace like a designer elevates decisions about the office environment to a strategic level, Golgart says. “Real estate is beginning to be an integral part of the strategy, whether that strategy is for collaborating and innovating, driving efficiencies, attracting talent, maintaining higher levels of productivity, or just giving people more amenities to create a better, cohesive workplace,” he says. “You will see companies start to distance themselves from their competition because they figured out the role that real estate needs to play within the business strategy.”

The SAP Center for Business Insight program supports the discovery and development of  new research-­based thinking to address the challenges of business and technology executives.

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Sam Yen

About Sam Yen

Sam Yen is the Chief Design Officer for SAP and the Managing Director of SAP Labs Silicon Valley. He is focused on driving a renewed commitment to design and user experience at SAP. Under his leadership, SAP further strengthens its mission of listening to customers´ needs leading to tangible results, including SAP Fiori, SAP Screen Personas and SAP´s UX design services.

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Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.

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About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at www.tempocreative.com. Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

Social Media Matters: 6 Content And Social Media Trend Predictions For 2016 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Julie Ellis

As 2015 winds down, it’s time to look forward to 2016 and explore the social media and content marketing trends that will impact marketing strategies over the next 15 months or so.

Some of the upcoming trends simply indicate an intensification of current trends, however others indicate that there are new things that will have a big impact in 2016.

Take a look at a few trends that should definitely factor in your planning for 2016.

1. SEO will focus more on social media platforms and less on search engines

Clearly Google is going nowhere. In fact, in 2016 Google’s word will still essentially be law when it comes to search engine optimization.

However, in 2016 there will be some changes in SEO. Many of these changes will be due to the fact that users are increasingly searching for products and services directly from websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

There are two reasons for this shift in customer habits:

  • Customers are relying more and more on customer comments, feedback, and reviews before making purchasing decisions. This means that they are most likely to search directly on platforms where they can find that information.
  • Customers who are seeking information about products and services feel that video- and image-based content is more trustworthy.

2. The need to optimize for mobile and touchscreens will intensify

Consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets for the following tasks at a sharply increasing rate:

  • Sending and receiving emails and messages
  • Making purchases
  • Researching products and services
  • Watching videos
  • Reading or writing reviews and comments
  • Obtaining driving directions and using navigation apps
  • Visiting news and entertainment websites
  • Using social media

Most marketers would be hard-pressed to look at this list and see any case for continuing to avoid mobile and touchscreen optimization. Yet, for some reason many companies still see mobile optimization as something that is nice to do, but not urgent.

This lack of a sense of urgency seemingly ignores the fact that more than 80% of the highest growing group of consumers indicate that it is highly important that retailers provide mobile apps that work well. According to the same study, nearly 90% of Millennials believe that there are a large number of websites that have not done a very good job of optimizing for mobile.

3. Content marketing will move to edgier social media platforms

Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat weren’t considered to be valid targets for mainstream content marketing efforts until now.

This is because they were considered to be too unproven and too “on the fringe” to warrant the time and marketing budget investments, when platforms such as Facebook and YouTube were so popular and had proven track records when it came to content marketing opportunity and success.

However, now that Instagram is enjoying such tremendous growth, and is opening up advertising opportunities to businesses beyond its brand partners, it (along with other platforms) will be seen as more and more viable in 2016.

4. Facebook will remain a strong player, but the demographic of the average user will age

In 2016, Facebook will likely remain the flagship social media website when it comes to sharing and promoting content, engaging with customers, and increasing Internet recognition.

However, it will become less and less possible to ignore the fact that younger consumers are moving away from the platform as their primary source of online social interaction and content consumption. Some companies may be able to maintain status quo for 2016 without feeling any negative impacts.

However, others may need to rethink their content marketing strategies for 2016 to take these shifts into account. Depending on their branding and the products or services that they offer, some companies may be able to profit from these changes by customizing the content that they promote on Facebook for an older demographic.

5. Content production must reflect quality and variety

  • Both B2B and B2C buyers value video based content over text based content.
  • While some curated content is a good thing, consumers believe that custom content is an indication that a company wishes to create a relationship with them.
  • The great majority of these same consumers report that customized content is useful for them.
  • B2B customers prefer learning about products and services through content as opposed to paid advertising.
  • Consumers believe that videos are more trustworthy forms of content than text.

Here is a great infographic depicting the importance of video in content marketing efforts:
Small Business Video infographic

A final, very important thing to note when considering content trends for 2016 is the decreasing value of the keyword as a way of optimizing content. In fact, in an effort to crack down on keyword stuffing, Google’s optimization rules have been updated to to kick offending sites out of prime SERP positions.

6. Oculus Rift will create significant changes in customer engagement

Oculus Rift is not likely to offer much to marketers in 2016. After all, it isn’t expected to ship to consumers until the first quarter. However, what Oculus Rift will do is influence the decisions that marketers make when it comes to creating customer interaction.

For example, companies that have not yet embraced storytelling may want to make 2016 the year that they do just that, because later in 2016 Oculus Rift may be the platform that their competitors will be using to tell stories while giving consumers a 360-degree vantage point.

For a deeper dive on engaging with customers through storytelling, see Brand Storytelling: Where Humanity Takes Center Stage.

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About Julie Ellis

Julie Ellis – marketer and professional blogger, writes about social media, education, self-improvement, marketing and psychology. To contact Julie follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.