The future of internet marketing will be shaped by tribes practicing content evangelism. Not sure? Here’s my dig at it.
Internet marketing or web marketing (or online marketing, whatever you choose to call it) has come a long way since its inception during the dotcom era. New web technologies are being developed around internet marketing or as a result of internet marketing that range from advanced and complex search engine algorithms to all type of digital media, such as banner and text ads, interactive flash ads, surface computing interfaces, all the Web 2.0 technologies, smart phone applications, mobile PPC ads, e-books, video sharing network ads etc. Additionally around internet marketing, technological ecosystems have also evolved for instance; ad exchanges, search and content networks, web development platforms, cloud applications, digital agencies and their suppliers, email marketing companies, rich content creation and sharing platforms, video creation and sharing technologies, application market places etc.
When these ideas invaded the smart phone or the mobile world, we started calling it “Digital Marketing”.
Internet marketers are constantly making attempts to grasp the whole scenario and create a comprehensive internet marketing plan (more often in a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, the most indefensible thing in our era) and even providing consulting services around this idea. They make forecasts, allocate budgets, make and interpret reports, develop new frameworks (this one’s mine), measure and monitor ROI and engage customers through various social media marketing activities.
All these activities create a ton of data and customers often find themselves spending more effort in blocking data than consuming it. Some technologies such as RSS, feeds, subscriptions have made this easier.
This is all good and internet marketing as a strategic business function will hardly cease to evolve, but what is more important is to establish a guiding principle or an ideology that will direct all the digital marketing activities at a subtler level and help take critical decisions. I would like to call this principle as “Content Evangelism”. Let’s explore this idea briefly.
The literal meaning of “Evangelism” is zealous preaching and advocacy of the gospel. Thus content evangelism would mean creating and marketing content that customers find worth sharing zealously. The emphasis here is not just sharing but sharing passionately. Here marketers need to appeal not just the superfluous, fun loving and frolicking side of the consumer, but to the internal belief system of his mind. In this case, marketers don’t just want the consumer to casually post a link on Facebook whenever he has time, but they want the consumer to keep it in mind permanently and especially take out time to passionately advocate it to his network. Undoubtedly, this is difficult.
The idea of creating shareable content is not new, but the aligning the entire digital marketing enterprise at corporate level with the ideology of content evangelism is perhaps hitherto unexplored. The efforts then don’t limit themselves to merely creating remarkable content but also to make it’s sharing easy and more importantly value adding. The values are emotional, inspirational, motivational, expressive and social. They appeal to the belief system of the consumer and not just his free time.
Whatever we share reflects out personality. Offering to consumers, content that enhances their social image is nothing less than empowering. Zeal in sharing is then part of the package.
Of course, different ideas appeal to different people and more effort in future will be required to find those people and gather them around an idea. Thus “Tribes” are formed. Here’s some more information on Tribes from Seth Godin .
Essential element of communication within a tribe is content evangelism i.e. people passionate about one idea , zealously share content around that idea and the expansion of idea is inclusive and permanent. Successful internet marketing attempts of the future will depend on the idea of content evangelism by tribes and will be largely independent of how much marketing dollars have been spent on PPC ad campaigns.
Here is one extraordinary and truly remarkable piece of content that appeal thoroughly to my belief system…the Airtel Express Yourself Ad.
I am an evangelist of this content. I belong to the globalization tribe. I am an internet marketer.