The Future of The Micro vs. Mega Influencer – Why User Generated Content is Poised to Win for Businesses

Guest Post from Matt Gibbs, Co-founder and CMO of UPshow

Millennials and GenZ might be the curated selfie generation, but a shift is happening, and businesses are taking notice. The cultural pendulum is swaying away from brand-sponsored mega-influencer-celebrity-endorsed posts to organic content that’s generated by people you know, or even those you feel like you know. Capturing more natural moments and promoting them within a more intimate circle of followers versus big ‘on the main stage’ posts is what’s now in-vogue. An industry 2018 Trust Barometer Report revealed that 60 percent of people no longer trusted social media and reported that immediate friends and family are better for recommendations than influencers.

That said, Kylie Jenner-esque paid posts aren’t going away, but they have become tarnished, and millennials and their younger counterparts are gravitating towards more natural interactions from those within their inner circle or for relatable micro-influencers. As a result, more brands are gravitating toward user-generated content to increase engagement and build trust and community.

According to a study, 56 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product that they’ve seen in real-life images posted by another consumer – a shift away from the rainbow-colored preplanned photos that dominated platforms like Instagram in late 2017.

UPshow, the company I co-founded, is a social TV platform that companies such as Crunch Fitness, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen and ATI Physical Therapy are using to transform their customers into immediate influencers.  The platform entices customers to post on social media by projecting them on big screens in-venue. As a result, friends and family, also see and are often influenced by the posts. The content and choice to participate is totally in the hands of the consumer.

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Other companies also provide services that cater to this trend, such as Guest Crew and Woobox.  Their platforms harness user-generated content and boost it organically. Guest Crew leverages a community of organically generated influencers and Woobox turns user-generated content into contests.  Filtergrade uses professional photo grade filters (such as Adobe Lightroom presets) to help brands generate more professional quality shareable images that are unique and micro-influencers can use them too to make their posts mimic celebrity influencer quality.

It’s a new era for user-generated content and if brands want to appeal to younger audiences, such as millennials and GenZ, they need to embrace the social media trends that will improve their engagement rates by putting the power in the hands of the consumer in a genuine way.  

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Matt Gibbs is co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of UPshow, a consumer engagement platform that transforms a business’s existing TVs into its top marketing assets.  Gibbs is responsible for branding, lead generation and advertising for the

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company. Gibbs is a genuine entrepreneur and trailblazer in digital media with deep roots in the Chicago start-up community. Along with college friend and UPshow CEOAdam Hirsen, Gibbs co-founded SparkReel in 2011. SparkReel created a more efficient way for friends and family to share mobile videos online and evolved into a social media agency that created user-generated content campaigns for Verizon, Oreo, Condé Nast, Apartments.com, among others. UPshow was born out of SparkReel when customers wanted social media engagement screens at events. Gibbs graduated from Miami University of Ohio and resides in Chicago, IL with his wife, two children and corgi.

Four Trends Marketers Shouldn’t Ignore

Are you wondering what you should be keeping an eye out in 2016? Look no further, within this post I share key findings from recently published reports from PulsePoint and PageFair and Adobe highlighting key trends and stats marketers can’t afford to ignore.

1. Content Marketing is King!

If you’re vaguely familiar with Content Marketing you’ve heard heard the term “Content Is King.”  A report published by PulsePoint found that by 2017 content marketing budgets are projected to double, and 83% of marketers believe content marketing will go “programatic” by 2017. (Click to Tweet)

When most of us think about real-time content marketing, we think of examples like Oreo’s tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout, when they advised customers that they “can still dunk in the dark.” That tweet was a great response to an unexpected occasion and the birth of the awareness of real time content marketing.

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Keep in mind that real-time content does not always have to be spontaneous. The majority of real-time content advertising and marketing can be prepared to some level by maintaining a close eye on preparing and trending topics material that replies to a broad range of scenarios.  Brand who are setup with strong content marketing strategies will rapidly set themselves apart and cut through the noise and “win” within this arena.

2.  Content marketing and native growth will outpace display and search

Brands, agencies and publishers reported that content marketing and native are both important to their organizations and strategies. But are the ad dollars and digital inventory available to back them? The answer is yes as both supply and demand are expected to grow over the next two years.

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While display and search still command most of the ad dollars, 37% of respondents to PulsePoint’s study named content marketing as one of the largest spending buckets.  That gap is only set to narrow, as content marketing and native ads both are both projected to see increased budgets over the next two years. The other format tracking slightly behind is digital video since the formal draws a higher audience engagement which is pivotal for brands with upper funnel campaign objectives.

 

3. Ad Blocking Is Rapidly Expanding, and Costing Publishers Billions of Dollars.

The number of consumers using ad blocking software worldwide has increased 41% year-on-year to 198 million monthly active users according to a report by PageFair and Adobe. (Click to Tweet)

Ad blocking is increasingly a challenge to marketers and it’s estimated that the click-through rate across all ad formats and placements is only 0.06 per cent.  Now users are able to be more discretionary than ever about which content they want and what they don’t.

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Currently ad blocking almost always happens via desktop computers, however ad blocking on mobile could soon become a mainstream phenomenon.

The rate of ad blocking varies country by country. The US has an estimated 45 million monthly active ad block users, up 48% year-on-year which across  Europe, 35% of the internet population (77 million users) used an ad blocker at least once a month.  The report also found that ad block users are usually young and technically savvy and predominantly male.

4. Mobile Emailing Marketing Remains in The Mix

Email is a channel which can’t be ignored however with the rise of wearable technology and mobile marketers must work towards firming up their email marketing strategy.

A study from Moveable Ink found that in the first quarter of 2015, 67% of all U.S. email opens occurred on a mobile device  and 75% of those were smartphones. (Click to Tweet)

The growth in mobile is staggering and the shift is undeniable as tablets and wearables are now being dubbed the “new inbox.” Marketers must ensure their messaging is “mobile friendly,” personalized, and optimized for success.

What trends do you think Marketers should watch into 2016, leave a comment below or send me a tweet.  

Content Is Fire, Social Media is Gasoline

In 2013 Dave Kerpen shared a post on LinkedIn entitled Content Is Fire, Social Media is Gasoline.  Within the post he discusses the importance of keeping it real while also keeping it relevant. If your social media informs more often than it promotes, you’re on the right track. If it is deeply helpful rather than deeply promotional, you’re probably on a roll.

To get a better sense for how businesses can use content and social media together to be successful, Dave Kerpen asked Jay Baer to summarize the concepts of his book Youtility. Within the book he shares information regarding the concept of using marketing to promote your marketing.  Brands often talk too often on social media and miss the mark by never saying anything other than “we’re great” and “buy buy buy.” With so many updates constantly on social media brands are competing for attention, and can do so easily by being useful, not by shouting louder. 

Dave uses the company ExactTarget as an example, sharing two tweets back to back.  The first is a corporate message less relevant to a wider twitter audience.  The second is a real time tweet which created content on the most popular Olympic sports based on followers, which was sent during the London Olympic games.  The infographic has no information abut ExactTarget’s products and services, rather it used real time relevancy to create interest and to showcase some of it’s products (it has a software allowing companies to monitor and engage on twitter).

Content is everywhere, you can’t help but consume it within your everyday life.  Everyone has something they want to share with the world and we are constantly taking that information in.  We put content out there through the tools of social networks, leveraging sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on.

“Content is fire. Social Media is Gasoline.” – Jay Baer

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Social media is what sparks our message and keeps the fire burning faster and brighter. Our number one tool so get our content and our message out there is the social media, and once we start the process, we need to keep feeding our fire.

“You cannot create without first consuming something.” -Jill Falk

Within my role I’m consuming content about 90% of my day.  I wake up each morning and check my Twitter account before even stepping out of bed.  I download two newspapers each morning to read on my ipad during my 40 minute train each morning.  I often sit next to my husband silently who does the same, and shares some additional content he finds on the various apps he checks into such as flipboard or good reader.  At work I build social media strategies to help boost the content my company created, and I often get emails on my work and personal accounts with content my friends, family, and co-workers find interesting.

It’s part of my job to keep up with these things, and also get myself out there.  I send tweets more than I pickup a phone, and I am guilty of constantly checking and updating my social notworks, I admit it, i’m totally addicted.  I learn new things everyday using social media and it keeps me up to date with what’s going on in the world and what is going on with my friends and family.  After we delivered our son and shared the moment with close friends and family, hours later I posted a photo and watched it spread like wildfire, the texts, calls, and messages rolled in.  I remember turning to my husband totally overwhelmed and overjoyed with the amount of messages I had to respond too, and it took me almost two weeks to circle back with everyone!

I always remember Jay’s words, “Content is the fire, social media is the gasoline.” Keep feeding your fire and keep it going!  Do what you love, and enjoy!

Four Metrics to Better Evaluate and Optimize Your Social Media Content

It’s important to constantly evaluate and optimize your best social media content to ensure your feeding content into an engaged and active audience.  Whether you’re a large brand or a blogger, if you’re spending time creating and sharing content no one is interested in, well, you’re just waiting your time!  Avinash Kaushik’s four major social media metrics were designed in a 2011 blog post to address the way in which we evaluate our social media performance.  Both Moz and Buffer use Kaushik’s social methods within their social media marketing, and theres an analytics tool, True Social Metrics, based solely upon his metrics.

Kaushik’s four metrics are:

1) Conversion Rate: The number of conversations per post.  For example, on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn (comments), on Twitter (replies).

2) Amplification Rate– The number of reshares or retweets per post.

3) Applause Rate- The volume of ReTweets, Likes, +1’s, and so on.

4) Economic Value– The sum of short term revenue, long term revenue, and cost savings.

How To Evaluate And Optimize Your Best Social Media Content: 5 New Methods To Try Today image Amplification

Kaushik’s four metrics can be found across every social channel as they are independent of the individual social media networks.  The four metrics are now more easily measurable due to tools and free analytics such as:

  • The release of expanded twitter analytics which now allows you to easily view impressions, engagements, engagement rates, and much more information for free.
  • Social Media Examiner shared a comprehensive excel spreadsheet for evaluation and optimizing social media content.  The spreadsheet includes 14 different variables for each social media post including likes, shares, clicks, engagement and more.
  • Buffer allows you to stack social media updates across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms and gives fantastic free analytics on retweets, mentions, favorites, clicks and more, as well as recommendations as to when to schedule and optimize content.
  • In my opinion the economic value is the hardest part to track within Kaushik’s metrics. At work we use a BitLy Google Analytics shortening tool from Setaris which allows you to measure specific keywords and campaigns through to conversions easily within google analytics, and shorten and track your links posted as well.

It’s important to consider Kaushik’s four metrics, and review and evaluate your social media content to ensure it’s always optimized and functioning well.  if you’ve got a tool or article you’ve read which has more information or insight, please share within the comments, or send me a tweet @MarissaPick. Thanks!

Five Simple Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing Success

Inspired by a slideshare posted by Natascha Thomson, The 10 Rules of B2B Social Media MarketingI wanted to share my top five rules for B2B Social Media Marketing Success.  Let me know if you agree, or what rules you follow by tweeting me @MarissaPick.

#1: BREAK THE RULES AND HAVE FUN!

  • Social media provides a way for marketers to test the waters and try something new.  Social media is an exciting and new space to experiment, and see major returns.  Break the rules, have a little fun, and as a brand let your corporate hair down.  Social media gives a behind the scenes look into a person or brand, and can help to facilitate deeper engagement with your audience.

#2: KNOWING WHAT TO DO IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT NOT TO DO

  • Every social media campaign needs a strategy, and it’s crucial to understand your goals. Knowing what you want to accomplish and how you will measure success is crucial before you launch any campaign.  All social media platforms are not the same, so leveraging the proper channels, and having a way to measure your campaign is so very important, and sadly often over looked. Think strategically and decide what you’re going to do before you launch, and start small, you can always expand once you have results.

#3: SOCIAL MEDIA ACTUALLY WORKS!

  • Natascha shared a great statistic from Forrester Research within her SlideShare deck, “85% of business decision-­‐makers said at least one social media channel is important when making technology purchase decisions.”  Social Media has the power to influence the decision makers.  When leveraged properly social media channels are a great place to share content to help influence and drive decision making at the very early stages.  Make sure you have solid content which targets and engages with  your audience.

#4: ENGAGEMENT = ESSENTIAL

  • Social Media is a platform to drive conversation and any post should always focus around engagement.  It doesn’t matter if you have 20,000 or 200 followers, what matters is that you have a captive and engaged audience.  I find visual content works well for my account to drive the RTs, Likes, and Shares.
  • Quick Tip: Find a quote or stat and download the Quoter App. It’s a great tool to brighten up your content, and quickly share on social media.  I shared the quote below from MarketingProfs Ann Handley during the recent NYC Social Media Week.  Since posting this to my account it has generated 45 ReTweets and 38 Favorites making this one of my most popular posts to date
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#5: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

  • Why should your audience follow you, and what’s in it for them? You need to answer this question, and them means the people within your social media community.  It’s crucial to wear their hats and build content which excites, engages, and motivates your audience. Know your audience’s needs, and be the source they go to get information and content. This takes me back to the top rule, always have fun and mix it up!