Marketers produce 27 million pieces of content each day. That's one blog post, infographic, video or white paper for every person in Texas – in just one day.
Content marketing has certainly gone mainstream, but marketers still don't use it as completely as they could. Most rely on content as a means to trumpet brand messages (please don't) or attract inbound leads.
Marketers can't ignore leads (after all, that's our bread and butter), but inbound isn't the only way content reaches prospects.
Content that resonates with audiences and ripples in the form of word of mouth has just as much value, and will become increasingly important as marketers crank out more and more content.
At the forefront of using content marketing to create word-of-mouth buzz is Red Bull, a media company that just so happens to sell energy drinks. Remember Felix Baumgartner jumping from the edge of space? How did you hear about it? For many, it was by word of mouth, both online and off.
You don't need death-defying feats to reap content marketing's word-of-mouth rewards. But you do need to rely on more than just inbound traffic to overcome content shock, as forecasted by renowned marketer Mark Schaefer, at an event held at Google DC last night leading up to the Demand Success marketing and PR conference.
Schaefer predicts an impending content shock will derail many marketing strategies. His premise is that the massive amount of content will soon outpace demand, drastically increasing the number of resources marketers must invest in for content to capture consumer attention.
The right content will shield marketers from content shock by generating word of mouth and creating a community of brand advocates.
Why does word of mouth work? Trust. Ninety-two percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family.
Reaching empowered buyers
Today's buyers control the ship, and they don't plan on giving up the helm. Gartner projects that by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their business interactions without talking to a human.
That number makes sense. After all, marketing automation is growing rapidly, and customers already search for and call on friends and strangers alike for help in the decision-making process.
Marketers must contend with the new flitting customer who accesses information across digital channels.
Word of mouth grabs the attention of distracted consumers, but how do you generate it? The key is turning owned media (such as blog posts, videos, etc.) into earned media (publicity, social shares or word of mouth), or vice versa.
Altimeter Group's "The Converged Media Imperative" report by Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang uses the New York Giants as an example.
The team began a social promotion in 2011 where they collected fans' social media posts and displayed them in the stadium and on TV. The team saw its Twitter following grow 120 percent in two months and an increase in e-commerce.
This happened because the Giants incentivized its fans to create content and people paused to read what their friends, not some brand, produced.
Why people share
Generating word of mouth requires understanding what motivates sharing.
According to a New York Times study, 94 percent of people consider how the information will be relevant to the people they share with.
For 68 percent of people, sharing third-party content gives their followers and friends a better idea of who they are.
Just under half (49 percent) share to inform others of products they care about to sway their decisions or encourage action.
The KellyOCG understands these reasons and creates content accordingly – no space jumps required. The outsourcing consulting group consistently produces content across media that make complex issues easier to understand.
It creates infographics like this one about social media and recruiting that provides digestible information of a global trend. Need insights about tail spend? KellyOCG has a fun (yes, fun) video to help. They also have case studies, e-books, blog posts, webcasts and more.
Building a fan following through sharing garners trust from readers and makes them willing to market on KellyOCG's behalf.
A bright future with word of mouth
Using content to generate word of mouth will gradually become more important, and eventually, essential.
It may not be surprising that millennials rely on user-generated content more than information on a company website or news articles, but they also trust recommendations from strangers more than from friends and family.
Sixty-four percent of millennials are even willing to market for you, saying they want brands to create more opportunities for user-generated content.
As this generation increases its purchasing power and becomes decision makers at businesses, expect to see more brands using content that leverages their connectedness.
Enjoy the inbound leads and soapbox that content marketing provides your business while you can. However, successful content marketing of the future will incite word of mouth, helping you stand out from the 27 million.
About the Sponsor
You Mon Tsang is responsible for driving global product vision and building Vocus' brand in the marketplace.
Prior to Vocus, Tsang was CEO of Engine140, a company Vocus acquired and subsequently integrated into its product portfolio. A serial entrepreneur, Tsang also founded and was CEO of Biz360, a market intelligence company that helped Fortune 500 companies compile and analyze media content. He also founded Boxxet, a consumer content aggregation engine with 4 million unique visitors a month, and Milktruck LLC, an Internet pioneer in offline browsing and "push" software.
Vocus (NASDAQ: VOCS) provides leading cloud-based marketing and public relations software that enables companies to acquire and retain customers. The company offers products and services to help clients attract and engage prospects, nurture and convert customers, and measure and improve marketing effectiveness. More than 16,000 annual subscription customers across a wide variety of industries use Vocus software. The company is headquartered in Beltsville, MD with offices in North America, Europe and Asia.