Influencer Paradigm: Shifting Power from Platforms to Creators
Social media platforms started out by presenting a new way of sharing ideas and communicating. These juggernauts dictate the trends and through their algorithms determine what kind of content you see. Their complicated attempts at understanding the audience's likes through code and data analysis worked in placing the massive platforms in the spotlight.
Twitch, TikTok, and other newcomers are destroying this model in favor of something far more appealing to users.
No one understands this better than best-selling author (of nine books), futurist, and Rutgers University standout, Mark Shaefer. Mark shares his insights on where he sees this change leading as well as how you can take advantage of this Earth-shattering evolution.
The Future of Digital Marketing
The new paradigm that's forming favors creator-focused platforms. You might ask, “Doesn't YouTube already fall into that category?” The answer is a resounding 'Yes' with a few caveats. The video platform's constantly changing terms and requirements often make it difficult for the average content creator to leave their mark. The mistake YouTube is making is in trying to make its tight grip the central focus rather than allowing creators the space to create and engage organically.
Every platform today has to be creator-focused. Consider Twitter. The platform brings practically nothing to the table but is a people-centered program. This is the key to Twitter's massive success and also the reason that Facebook is faltering.
An example that Mark Shaefer presents as what to avoid is that of video streaming platform Quibi. Getting its start at the outset of COVID-19, Quibi aspired to become popular among users that were limited due to the restrictive measures. However, due to not being co-created and with a tendency to shove content down users' throats, Quibi's existence was short-lived.
Prediction for the Future of Digital Advertising
Google makes a big update to its algorithm every couple of years, it seems. The same holds for Facebook, Apple, and other Big Tech giants. However, paradigm shifts in the way marketing is conducted come along once every decade or more. If you take nothing else from Mark Shaefer's words, and trust us, there's a lot to learn from them, it's this:
Turning Ad Agencies Into Talent Agencies
As Shaefer will agree, the cranberry juice guy is one of the most important case studies in social media. A guy is late for work and takes his skateboard to make up the lost time, all the while lip-sinking to a Fleetwood Mac song. The guy becomes ultra-famous on TikTok and this becomes the most effective advertising vehicle for Ocean Spray cranberry juice, a company that's been around since 1930.
If you're an ad agency and you had brought this idea forth, it would be shot down due to a host of factors. First of all, the guy is skateboarding without a helmet. The song is seemingly irrelevant, the brand doesn't receive particular exposure, and the man doesn't represent or target the target demographic. In short, this content could not have been created by an ad agency. It just wouldn't have gotten through the idea screening process.
How did something so bizarre go viral? On TikTok, the algorithm excavates the absurd, the bizarre. This makes the point that there is a re-inventing content strategy taking place right before everyone's eyes but many simply cannot grasp it.
The power is passing into the hands of the creators like the baton in a relay race, and the creators are taking off in an explosive sprint. They're the ones dictating the terms of brands rather than agencies shoving content in people's faces. The ad agencies will have to evolve into talent agencies that corral creators.
A weird new world is forming where the creators are calling the shots. Is your brand ready to take advantage of it?
What Can Companies Do to Prepare for the Future?
Mark Shaefer thinks many companies will not be able to adjust. A marketing extinction event of massive proportions is on the horizon and too many brands will be rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic as the ship's hull sinks.
Companies' relationships with ad agencies create a rigid structure that follows narrow directives. After all, ad agencies only know how to create ads. Turning ideas into ads is all they know how to do.
Isn't anyone telling these agencies that people are paying lots of money not to be exposed to ads? Ad blockers, subscriptions to content platforms, new blockchain technologies, and more are surfacing for the sole purpose of nixing advertisements and yet agencies are still pushing for ads.
Innovation will come from entrepreneurs that understand this concept. The business owners and innovators that grasp this idea will dominate in the years to come. Will you be one of them?
Embrace new ways of doing business. How do you connect with audiences? What are the needs of your customers? Appeal to those universal human needs instead of "we're with you in these unprecedented times," a boring and meaningless slogan the world was subjected to in the past year and a half.
People are sick of robocalls, text messaging, mass mailings, and other rigid marketing tactics. They enjoy being entertained.
Earn Your Way Into the Two-Thirds
Research shows that two-thirds of your marketing is occurring without you. This includes word of mouth, reviews, testimonials, social media, and influencers. The real goal of marketing should be to earn our way into that two-thirds by creating something entertaining. Also, think of it this way: Why should all your marketing be linear and not synergistic? Why should one click bring one view which may bring one conversion after 'X clicks? Leveraging your brand's potential for omnipresence on different channels can boost your effectiveness and bring you customers and fans while you sleep.
Building momentum for your brand is about achieving critical mass in your content efforts. How can you be heard, seen, discovered in this world of infinite media and constant noise? What do you do if you're doing your best work and you're still being buried in the static? Is there a science behind momentum?
To build momentum, you have to exit the limiting paradigm of spamming ads until you get clicks and then blasting your list of subscribers with offers. Mark Shaefer's book, Cumulative Advantage, which can be found on paper, Amazon, and Kindle, talks about building momentum for your ideas. It details the paradigm shift and how business owners can leverage the new age of content creation and consumption for explosive results.
You can also find Mark on his podcast, Marketing Companion.