“Microsoft will buy one, maybe two, media companies in certain industries,” wrote Joe Pulizzi, in CMI post titled 50 Content Marketing Predictions for 2014. “The outcome of these moves will pave the way for further media purchases throughout the year by non-media companies.”
That a tech company would acquire a media company is a bold prediction…until we remember Microsoft has previous experience in a joint venture with NBC and once hired its arch nemesis, Robert Scoble to humanize the company. Seems like a play out of a standard playbook today, except when we remember that Microsoft made those moves as far back as in 2005. That’s more than an eon in social media time, where we hang on what’s next and too easily forget what happened.
As for the longevity of a media company? Sure the mainstream industry has fallen on hard times, but for technology companies, it could be a saving grace. We might remember AOL as a cartoonish internet portal, or a once ubiquitous instant messaging service, but AOL News still hauls in more than 50 million viewers a month.
From my vantage point, Pulizzi’s prediction ought to be within the normal distribution of content marketing predictions (it’s not which is what makes it unique). In the absence of building a platform and community with useful content, brands have two choices: either beg or pay to borrow someone else’s channel.
Predictions aren’t a puzzle but a mystery, which means at best such predictions are just a guess, even an educated one. Still it’s useful to unpack predictions, as Valeria Maltoni wrote of her own prediction in the deck:
“Predictions are not just about stretching what is happening now to make it more important tomorrow. We still get it wrong enough times to make it noticeable when we try to predict a future action. However, predictions are a useful exercise when based on what you do with what you learn from what is happening right now.”
The Down Side
Mitch Joel, of Twist Image, has a far more pessimistic view his his prediction, writing:
“Sadly, brands will struggle to do more than to do more than shill their wares.”
Convince and Convert founder Jay Baer expressed a similar sentiment:
“In an effort to have some editorial rationale for this avalanche of micro content, we will see an increase in brands trying to ride the real-time marketing wave, with most of them looking exceptionally vain and foolish while doing so.”
Indeed both gentleman were right on the mark with these predictions since just a few days after publication of the 50 predictions, the in-flight wireless provider Gogo, jumped into the Justine Sacco debacle to shill its wares.
“Ugly,” wrote Ann Handley in an overall analysis of the Sacco incident: Justine Sacco: When Bad Gets Ugly:
“Some brands jumped in on it, too—flexing their clearly undeveloped and puny real-time marketing muscles. I can’t fathom why.”
It’s ugly to market at the expense of others, no matter how distasteful we might find their words or actions.
Although her publications has done plenty of co-produced research with CMI, Handley did not have a prediction in the CMI roll up. We can however, find plenty of sound predictions on MarketingProfs.
Content as Sales Currency
Marketers have long subscribed to the idea that useful content is the currency of the web; used in barter for the attention of customers and prospects. Oracle’s Jill Rowley extends this concept to the sales force:
“Sales people will use content to be part of the buyer’s learning party (57% of the buying process is done prior to engaging Sales). The modern sales professional is a content connoisseur and an information concierge with a strong personal brand.”
Indeed we are seeing an entirely new set of tools – to manage social campaigns among employees – like PeopleLinx take flight. PeopleLinx is a bit like Triberr for the enterprise. While many brands focus on turning fans into fanatics, it’s very own employee-base is what I think one of the most underutilized assets at a brands disposal.
Today’s crisis spreads in content on the web; who better can a brand rely on to be good ambassadors than its employees? Corporate communications and marketing cannot be everywhere at all times – in many cases a prerequisite to managing a crisis. There’s a future for it in 2014 — and that’s not a prediction but an opportunity.
As for my own prediction…
Ian Lipner planted the seed in my mind that visibility is a commodity. This plays out in long form content, for the same economic reasons we can purchase an entire Rotisserie chicken for less than the cost of two neatly trimmed and uncooked chicken breasts: Value-added.
I have seen in both my personal and professional work – that Google has a renewed enthusiasm for long form content rendered in the form of organic referrals. It’s not to say there isn’t a voracious demand for 101 level content, tips and tricks and lists will always be of use as new people enter the market to learn. But there’s an element of precision targeting involved in long-form content not unlike Marcus Sheridan’s philosophy of answering customer questions in content.
The magic middle? It’s the difference between an advocate that evangelizes for the love of a brand or product rather than a paycheck. It’s not to say that a paid influencer cannot be an appropriate investment, but rather the content earned from an organic fan is a category of influence that cannot be purchased. And it’s incredibly valuable.
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There are as the slide presentation above provides, 50 of these such predictions. What thoughts do you have on these predictions and what predictions of your own might you offer?
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