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The Changing Digital Landscape pt.1 - All Content is Created Equal

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Last week, I had a discussion with one of my fellow panelists from last month’s NetSquared DC event “What’s on the Horizon for 2013”. She said she wished I had more time to delve into the six points I made in my presentation, so I decided to turn them into a blog series. 

My “predictions” for 2013 and beyond are driven by a few larger trends happening in marketing and business. The world is becoming a more connected place, with mobile driving internet accessibility. The Pew Internet and Family Project reports that 45% of adults in the US own smart phones, and 55% of adult cell phone owners access the internet via their mobile device. Layer on top of that the exponential growth in the number of consumers accessing the internet through connected devices, such as TV’s, game consoles, tablets, etc., and that people will soon access the internet in their cars, on their watch, and even in the shower.  Gone are the days where you are restricted to accessing the internet via a desktop computer. The internet is everywhere. Enter the Web of Things

Consumers don’t see the internet as something that is tied to a specific digital device. Recent studies show that most teens and young adults do not see the a difference between accessing the internet via their laptop and mobile phone. The internet is the internet, no matter where you access it. This concept is very disruptive to marketing. 

To date, most marketers have taken a very channel-centric approach to strategy development. A week has not past when I haven’t skimmed an article telling me how my business will fail if I don’t have a social media or mobile strategy. But, if the internet is amorphous, why do brands need a channel- or platform-specific marketing strategy?

This thinking led to the first point of my presentation: All Content is Created Equal

Content drives brand engagement. Whether a consumer reads a blog post on your website, your brand’s tweet retweeted by a friend, or a product review on Mashable...every digital touch point between a consumer and a brand is driven by a piece of content. That content can be consumed anywhere online and accessed via any number of pathways.

With content as the driver of brand engagement, channels no longer matter as much as they once did. Brands need to focus their efforts on developing a holistic content strategy. Whether you reach consumers on a mobile device or a social network, content is content. Your content strategy needs to be about effective delivery of your brand message across digital platforms to meet business goals. 

Until recently, many brands have taken a “hub and spoke” approach to content strategy development, developing content for their website, such as blog posts, infographics, training materials, etc., and distributing that content through social media and other channels as links back to owned properties. This sometimes makes sense when you are looking at lead generation, or driving some action that can only be completed on a specific web page. But, consumers want to engage with brands where they are online. They won’t always go to your website. It is your job to figure out how you effectively deliver your brand message to a consumer on the platform they choose to engage your brand on.  

If you are interested in exploring this concept more, I recommend reading The Altimeter Group report The Converged Media Imperative. Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang introduced the concept of converged media, describing how brands need to utilize “two or more channels of paid, earned and owned media...in concert, enabling brands to reach customers exactly where, how, and when they want, regardless of channel, medium, or device, online or offline.”

I’ll explore this concept a little bit more in my next post, “Content is Paid Media.” Until then, let us know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.