Cleveland is alive with the biggest names in Content Marketing this week. The annual Content Marketing World show, hosted by the Content Marketing Institute, has drawn over 3,500 marketers to the Midwest to discuss best practices for marketing in a world of ad-blockers, fragmented audiences, and too much content in general. While these folks still produce a lot of content, they need to address what CMW sponsor TrackMaven calls “The Content Marketing Paradox”—the fact that brand content production increased by 35 percent last year but content engagement dropped by 17 percent.
Content marketing is a powerful way to build connections with prospects and customers—yet, if that message never gets to them, there is no chance for it to take hold. This is one of the reasons why influencer marketing is getting more attention here at Content Marketing World than in the past. Working with influencers can help address these concerns by ensuring there is an audience for the content and brands are starting to build influencer content into their strategy.
During various sessions, key brands like LEGO, Microsoft, Dell and JW Marriott talked about the success of their influencer efforts. In the keynote address, LEGO spoke about the staggering success of their content efforts—including the nearly billion views a day their products get on YouTube every day. While they have a decades-old commitment to content in the form of magazines, videos and more, they are also strongly supported by user-generated content (UGC). The speaker, Lars Silberbauer, director of social media and search marketing, noted that they inspire UGC further by sharing product care packages to popular ‘mommy-bloggers’ and key influencers. They see this as a powerful way to encourage regular fans while building a strong relationship with passionate LEGO creators.
In another session, Eve Psalti of Microsoft explained how influencer marketing is key for reaching audiences that are skeptical of traditional advertising. In their education division, Psalti’s team partners with educators that can share stories about how Microsoft products are helping them be successful in their careers. With a credible third-party delivering a positive message about their products, Microsoft is able to tap into a source of trusted advice to help communicate their branded messages to target audiences. Her colleague, Amanda Duncan, a member of Microsoft’s Influencer Relations Team, noted that they are implementing influencer strategies across the company to help the brand deliver messages to hard-to-reach consumers.
Computer maker Dell also showcased their enterprise program for influencer marketing in a presentation. These range from top-tier celebrity relationships that focus on their environmentally-friendly policies to mid-tier and micro-influencers that help them focus on niche audiences, like customers who purchase their Alienware line. Shelley Ryan, global content strategist for Dell, noted their focus is on long-term relationships with influencers that share values and viewpoints with the brand. The company believes the greatest value comes from up-and-coming influencers that have deep engagement with their audiences. Ryan made it clear that they see influencer marketing as win-win-win. “For influencer campaigns, we ensure there is benefit for the brand, the influencer and the customers,” said Ryan.
One of the most compelling presentations at Content Marketing World was Marriott International highlighting the success of their content efforts over the last eighteen months. Matthew Glick, senior director of creative and content global marketing, talked about how the Marriott Content Studio has developed a global content strategy that has had a transformative effect on how they connect with their customers. One of the four pillars of their efforts is influencer marketing, which allows them to engage deeply with target audiences, like Millennials, that are challenging to reach with traditional mass media such as television advertising. Glick put it simply, “Nobody watches television. They don’t want to see our ads. We found out we need to draw people in with interesting content.”
As a result, Marriott’s strategy includes original content like Two Bellmen, connecting their brand with real-time conversations about trending topics like Pokemon Go and launching influencer campaigns. In fact, recent Marriott influencer campaigns have helped them showcase the unique character of their properties in authentic and popular social video and posts. Their focus on social engagement and working with influencers has led to deep engagement and powerful brand lift. Marriott International’s efforts have been noticed by more than just prospective hotel patrons, too. In January, MIPTV awarded the title “Brand of the Year” to Marriott.
All of the influencer sessions at Content Marketing World were well-attended. This is a testament to the fact that brands are realizing that influencer content is a key part of the future of content marketing. The principles are the same—provide value to consumers to build a relationship. By partnering with like-minded influencers who have a true affinity for their brand, marketers can collaborate with passionate brand advocates to create effective content that is delivered to a built-in audience.
Figure credit: Dell