To Engage with Consumer, Brands Stop Following Them

We’ve watched consumers pave the way for brands on the Internet for years.

First, wherever eyeballs flocked online, brands followed with banner and display ads. Web hits were virtual dollar signs. In the 2.0 era, as internet users migrated to Facebook, Myspace and Twitter, brands quickly tried to join the conversation. Content creation vehicles and blogging platforms gave birth to new media titles like Mashable, BoingBoing, and TechCrunch that were
the precursors to corporate blogs.

YouTube discovered Justin Bieber, Soulja Boy, and even found a new lead singer for Journey. Somewhere along the way, The Old Spice Man and Roller Babies were streaming their way to the Viral Video Hall of Fame. The dependency on Google for everyday decisions has given birth to a thriving SEO/SEM industry in which marketers labor over endless search data to gain a
competitive advantage.

To date, brands’ efforts to engage consumers online have hinged on presence and accessibility. These two traits foster engagement but do little to build trust. This trust is built through a deeper level of engagement, which is why brands have begun to act less like consumers and more like publishers – particularly online.

As online video viewership continues to grow at an unparalleled pace, more and more brands will leverage the medium as a direct communication channel with consumers. And with the decision to devote energy towards content marketing comes a choice – to inform or entertain. Informational video allows brands to reach consumers in a need state and quickly build trust between viewers and brands outside of normal product interaction. But this requires brands to be comfortable with an authoritative role within their respective niches.

Expect brands to get used to this position fast. As users search for information, content marketers will focus on what these people want now, much like publishers already do. These brand marketers will be able tap into valuable search data to hone content strategies. Major fashion brands that shy away from giving fashion advice, or car manufactures who hesitate to provide tips on how to maintain your vehicle, will fall behind the eight ball to brands like Betty Crocker who to date have taught over 100 million moms and dads how to make the best dinosaur birthday cake.

By filtering, ranking and categorizing raw search data to develop accurate, actionable insights into what consumers are searching for online, great bounds can be made. The results are libraries of quality, evergreen content that provide brands with a vehicle to communicate their expertise to consumers.

While marketing continues to add channels to its mix, expect online video to dominate this newfound content marketing discipline.

Content marketing is increasingly being approached with multi-medium distribution in mind and Video advertising is no longer made for just for TV commercials before simply being re-purposed for Web. Strategies are going to be used across a multitude of screens in a very strategic, but also increasingly holistic way.

Alison Provost, Founder and CEO, Touchstorm

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