CMOs need to possess a wide range of skill sets in order to be effective. Okay, that ends the ridiculously-obvious portion of our show. The fact is it’s no longer enough to be a Madison Avenue creative thinker who doesn’t know the ins and outs of social media, or understand the power of high-converting digital marketing funnels. What was once considered “niche knowledge” in the world of marketing has become essential to building a well-rounded marketing mix. And for CMOs, specifically, this means taking the time to master (or at least become proficient) in all types of marketing.
With so many new marketing trends emerging in today’s digital landscape, I sat down with Jonathan Foley, the founder of @Positivity and @Societyfeelings, and CEO of WULF Marketing, to discuss where CMOs should be focusing their efforts. Foley has extensive experience building massive social audiences, and says CMOs need to pay attention to the following five trends:
1. The “free exposure” social media window has closed and brands have to accept it.
In order to market your brand, product, or service, you’re going to need a marketing budget. The question, however, is how much to spend.
Foley pointed out that when social media first grabbed hold of the masses, many brands and savvy business leaders saw it as a way to get “free promotion.” Facebook and Twitter hadn’t changed their algorithms yet, which meant that people who followed you truly saw what you shared and posted with them.
“Today, Facebook and just about every other social media platform has become pay to play,” said Foley. “And it’s safe to assume this trend will continue in the same direction. So, why wait? Brands and thought leaders need to start investing in building social pages for themselves — or even acquiring and building a variety of social pages so that you can own as many audiences as possible.”
To Foley’s point, if you are operating on a slim budget, you need to focus on gaining traction now, while the playing field is still somewhat level.
2. Influencer marketing is here to stay.
We are already seeing the significance of influencer marketing.
According to Forbes writer Clare O’Connor, “An Instagram user with 100,000 followers can command $5,000 for a post made in partnership with a company or brand.” And that’s on the low end of the spectrum. YouTubers with several million subscribers, on the other hand, can command a healthy six figures for a video partnership.
“Using someone who has an influential and strong presence to market your product is a great way to gain traffic and engagement,” said Foley — who has used this tactic to grow his Instagram page, @Positivity, to over 130,000 followers in less than 30 days. “The key is to make sure you work with someone who has a similar voice as your brand. You want their audience to identify with your company, and vice versa.”
However, Foley pointed out that CMOs need to acknowledge how influencer marketing, although still fairly new, is already changing. With Instagram and Facebook offering label-sponsored ads, it’s fair to say that transparency is going to continue to be a hot-button issue for influencers. Partnerships will continue to increase, but influencers are going to have to be open and honest about who they are representing, when, and why.
3. Outdated tactics like billboards have no ROI.
“I truly believe that TV and billboards are the most over-hyped forms of marketing,” said Foley. “Everyone is always on their phones. And as a brand looking to convert people into paying customers, it doesn’t make sense to spend exorbitant amounts of money to reach these people, only to be left wondering if they became a customer or not. With digital marketing, that’s not a question — it’s an important part of the equation.”
Foley went on to explain that CMOs need to be aware of whether these outdated tactics are going to remain worth investing in. “Just because it has been part of your marketing mix for the past 30 years, doesn’t mean it should still be there,” he said. “Social media and digital mediums where you can actually track conversations is where you want to be.”
I don’t necessarily agree with Foley on this one. I think billboard advertising is on the cusp of a comeback in many ways. Take for example Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian’s recent decision to invest over $2 million in Adquick, which according to TechCrunch is “a new service that’s looking to bring billboard advertising into the Internet age.”
4. Data should inform how you market to your customers.
The data you can obtain from the profiles of your customers and followers is incredibly powerful; especially with tools like Microsoft Dynamics, Tableau and Domo, to name a few.
“CMOs need to realize the amazing opportunity that’s right at the tip of their fingertips,” said Foley. “When you have data, you can better understand what’s working, what’s not, and how that impacts your strategy as a whole. Too many brands capture data, and even say they’re capturing data, but they don’t use that data to change anything.”
Of course, two things come to mind here: Zuckerberg testifying in front of Congress recently to discuss the fraudulent use of user data, and The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulation by the European Union that governs consumers’ private information. These should be news events that CMOs keep top of mind, remembering that the digital landscape is still very new — and the rules brands play by today won’t remain the same forever.
5. Diversify your efforts across a variety of social platforms.
One of the biggest debates in marketing, and digital marketing specifically, is whether you should be on every platform or not.
Based on his own experiences, Foley said, “We’re at a point now where you have to be leveraging multiple challenges. When you’re first starting out, it’s great to go all-in on a single platform, but you should always be looking for ways to start capitalizing on your successes and expanding your reach to other platforms — whether that means hiring someone to manage it for you, or hustling to do it all yourself.”
He went on to explain that in order to make a massive impact, you have to be willing to change your content to fit each and every social platform. What works on Instagram won’t work on Facebook, or Twitter, or YouTube. But elements of the content will.
So, as the marketer, it’s up to you to figure out what the “core message” is, and then replicate that same feeling on each platform — but cater the content to fit the wants and needs of that particular audience.