Not one hand went up when Lee Odden, chief executive (CEO) of TopRank Online Marketing, asked a room full of digital marketers at ClickZ Live San Francisco, “How many people are underwhelmed when they look at their email inbox or Twitter feeds?”
During his talk, “Influence the Influencers: The Magic of Co-Created Social Marketing,” Odden pointed out that there are more than 254 million blogs on the Internet. For that reason, it’s getting increasingly harder for marketers to stand out, and making good engaging content has become much more critical.
“Content needs to have influence. Influence is not having a bunch of fans, friends, and followers. Influence is the swaying of beliefs, behaviors, and actions. An influencer is someone who can affect action,” Odden said.
He added that partnering with people who are already established in the area you want to be known for, and creating content with them, could be a good place to start in the voyage to “influencer.” Odden pointed to a Nielsen study that found that 85 percent of consumers seek information from “experts.”
In addition to the above, Odden suggested a five-part strategy to ensure influential marketing. This included:
- Defining goals
- Choosing topics: Odden recommended focusing on a theme throughout the year, pointing out that one blog post isn’t just about getting tweeted, but about contributing to people’s overall perception of the company. “How does it contribute to the things that came before it and the things that come after?” he asked.
- Romancing the influencers: “The best time to raise an army isn’t the first day of the war,” explained Odden. In other words, take the time to nurture your audience. He recommended initially reaching out in benign ways, such as commenting on blog posts and retweeting. When it comes to the pitch, he noted the importance of being succinct and stressing what’s in it for [the audience].
- Creating and promoting content: Odden stressed the importance of making the content easy to share, for both consumers and partners. Providing them with prewritten content and a timeline is a way to simplify things for the influencers.
- Optimizing performance by measuring everything possible.
Closing his session, Odden spoke of TopRank’s e-book, which was released earlier this month, the first in a four-part series. Building a Content Marketing Strategy features advice from a dozen brands such as Progressive Insurance, software company BitTorrent, and machinery manufacturer John Deere.
“We co-created content with our target audience and we got another company to pay for it,” he says. “Even if we never acquire a customer, it’s still profitable — that’s how awesome this is.”
Stanislav Gladkov, a social media marketer from Ukraine, was interested in hearing about monetization, and left the session with four to-dos.
“I loved [the presentation] because this is what I have been preaching to my partners since I’ve joined my company,” says Jennifer Alterwitz, vice president of marketing and communications at SC&H Group, a Baltimore tax firm.
Alterwitz continued that her main takeaway from the session is that Odden confirmed that there’s no exact science in digital marketing. “It’s refreshing to know that as an industry, we have to continuously grow, adjust, analyze, and refine,” she says.