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10 Things I Learned Reading 70 Digital Marketing Trends Articles for 2015 (So You Don’t Have To)


In the last month, every digital marketing agency and social media strategy blog published countless articles, with occasionally baseless and sometimes arbitrary predictions, on the next year in digital marketing. As someone in the digital marketing business for a decade, I’ve read social media trend pieces like these since before they called it social media. This year, I read countless (okay, 70 because I counted) and I’m more confused than before.

Some of the predictions this year were ridiculous on their face. No, we won’t all wear Oculus Rifts around the office at any point in 2015. No, Facebook won’t buy Twitter. No, Vine isn’t the secret to saving legacy news organizations.

Some ideas surfaced in multiple articles, however, and this consensus seemed like the real predictions for 2015. Below I’ve extrapolated from endless blog copy the actual 10 things digital marketers should know in 2015. (You’ll get the best experience if you read this on your hoverboard, with an Oculus Rift. Just kidding, that’s 2016.)

Everyone agrees: Content remains king in 2015.

If one of your complaints about life is that brands don’t create enough content, you’re in luck. There is almost total agreement amongst digital brand strategists that consumers can’t wait to devour and share your brand’s content.

Video will somehow manage to be more ubiquitous in 2015 and will live in more places than YouTube. We’re entering a world where brand video content will probably autoplay on every single social media platform. Look at the insanely fast rise of Facebook video, it’s rapidly become a serious challenger to YouTube. Twitter, which already owns Vine, has announced legit video hosting integration.

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Brands’ Future Is Creating Shared Value, Not Just Social Responsibility Campaigns

It’s Not About Brands Reinventing Themselves, But Going Back to Their Beginnings

In a seminal article that appeared in the Harvard Business Review in 2011, Michael Porter and Mark Kramer defined a new paradigm for business with the words “shared value.” The idea is that the future of today’s brands will lie in aligning business success with positive social impact for people and the planet. This is a new way of looking at corporate citizenship, from occasional philanthropic and cause-oriented actions that lie outside of their core business, to the core business itself and its potential to make the world a better place.

Both of these represent a transient, perhaps insincere, and unsustainable role for brands in making the world better, whereas aligning how the actual products and services can make a positive impact makes them enduring and sustainable.

The truth is, today’s greatest and most enduring brands came into the world through a shared-value idea. The world’s most-loved brands started with a single person who saw a societal need and looked to create something that could address that need and make the world a better place.

Thomas Edison saw an opportunity to bring light to the world.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Retargeting Campaigns


We’d all like to think that every single person that comes in contact with our business follows a very straight and orderly path to purchase. Someone visits our site for the first time, then fills out a form to download an ebook, then becomes interested in talking with a sales rep, all in one session on your website. Minutes later, the sales rep reaching out to this lead, and before you know it, the lead is becoming a customer, handing over their credit card to purchase something from your company.

But in reality, the buyer’s journey is probably not so linear. People pop over to your website then leave. Two months later, they discover your latest blog article, and then decide to download that ebook. A few days after that, they decide to check out another blog post. Maybe a week later they decide to get in touch with Sales, and it takes several more weeks of meetings and discussions to come to a decision to buy. Same end result, but the process is a little more convoluted.

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Sorry, Facebook: Snapchat Still More Popular Among Undergrads


Ever wondered why Facebook continues to try to make its own version of Snapchat?

A new study suggests college students— traditionally one of Facebook’s biggest demographics— are more engaged with Snapchat than Facebook.

The study found that while 70% of college students report posting on Snapchat at least once a day, only 11% report posting on Facebook with the same frequency.

Sumpto, a New York-based marketing company that helps brands connect with college students, conducted the study. It polled nearly 2,000 undergraduate students from hundreds of campuses in the U.S.

Result: as in another study reported earlier this year, Snapchat rules on college campuses.

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How Buyers Buy… and Four Ways You Can Help Them Choose You

With the Internet, the Great Recession, and intensification of competition in many industries, the way buyers buy has changed. Buyers are busier, they have more choices, and they are better informed than ever.

So what are the companies that are bringing in new customers and growing their accounts doing that’s different?

To find out, we went to the source: buyers themselves. We surveyed over 700 B2B buyers responsible for $3.1 billion in annual purchases. We wanted to know what the winners of actual sales opportunities are doing that’s different from what others are doing.

Seven factors rose to the top as those that most separate winners from second-place finishers. These are what tipped the scales in favor of the selected provider:

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Millennials Aren’t Afraid of the Phone, or Human Connection

Prized Demographic Wants to Talk to a Person When Deciding on a Purchase

Have you heard how millennials have forsaken all manner of verbal communication in favor of texts and tweets? And that the best way to market to them is through cat pictures and ironic memes? So have I. And I don’t buy it.

The stereotype is that this generation is lazy and entitled. They’ve lost the art of eye contact and a firm handshake. But I say it is marketers who are lazy, for this prized demographic of 25-to-34-year-olds doesn’t respond just to digital campaigns or social-media exchanges: they also care deeply about authentic human connection.

Studies show that millennials are the most likely of any age group to make a research-and-purchase decision the old-fashioned way — by talking to someone. They are most likely to call a business from a digital advertisement.

Readers older than millennials may remember AT&T‘s famous “Reach Out and Touch Someone” campaign, which promoted talking as the primary means through which humans form and build relationships. Today, marketers too often associate a personal touch with, say, emoticons and shy away from offline conversations, believing they are passé with 20-somethings.

But Google recently studied consumer response to mobile search, and found that a phone call is the most common response to a local search. But Google’s research doesn’t address demographics.

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Word-Of-Mouth Marketing Gets ‘Real’

Marketers already understand the value of building relationships with top spenders, but the power of the consumer runs far beyond his or her own wallet.

In fact, a recent study found that Millennials (people between the ages of 18 and 32) are more influenced by word-of-mouth than their advertising-reliant Baby Boomer (ages 49 to 67) counterparts. To reach this tech-savvy, yet advertising-averse generation, progressive marketers will make 2014 the year of a renewed focus on word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM).

Consumers are becoming immune to the online rants of self-proclaimed industry/product experts, thanks to the saturation of social media with marketing messages. The power of offline, interpersonal relationships and influence once again reigns supreme. Simply put, people are more likely to buy what their friends buy–and those friends with real sales influence typically aren’t the 500-plus Twitter followers filling their online worlds or even the biggest spenders in your customer pool.

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Instagram Inks Ad Deal With Omnicom Worth up to $100 Million

Deal Gives Omnicom Media and Creative Agencies Access to Instagram Paid Ad Program

Instagram has inked its first major ad deal with an agency, and it’s big.

The photo- and video-sharing site is rolling out a paid advertising program with a year-long commitment from Omnicom to spend up to $100 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

The arrangement means that users will start seeing ads in their streams from brands that work with Omnicom’s media and creative agencies, including Omnicom Media Group, the media agency network that spearheaded the deal, and creative shops within the holding company likeBBDODDB and TBWA/Chiat/Day. Omnicom’s media agency network houses PHD and OMD.

Omnicom and Facebook, which bought Instagram for $715 million in 2012, confirmed the partnership but declined to comment on its terms. Instagram said it has a community of 150 million active users, with more than 60% from outside the U.S., and 55 million photos loaded daily.

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‘SNL’ Is Reclaiming Its Turf via Social Media — Just in Time

If we take online comments as a scaled down version of the world at large, it’s clear that 2014 global society is divided on three main topics: religion, climate change and which cast ofSaturday Night Live was the best.

As it stands, SNL has muscled through its 39th season amidst heavy criticism surrounding both a lack of cast diversity and a sketch model that, at times, seems to ignore contemporary culture. As clutch cast members Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen, along with writer John Mulaney, departed before the season’s start, the obvious question was whether or not a largely young and inexperienced cast could carry the show to new heights.

When the 2013-2014 cast was announced, it included two members of the YouTube sketch sensation Good Neighbor (a third member joined as a writer). At first, it seemed the show was simply refilling the hole left by “digital short” masters, The Lonely Island. With the season more than halfway over, however, it appears the move was slightly more strategic.

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How Ant Colonies Foreshadow the Future of Facebook

They call it “the anternet.”

In 2012, Stanford biologist Deborah Gordon, Ph.D., discovered that the behavior of harvester ant colonies mirrors the fundamental Internet technology known as Transmission Control Protocol, or TCP.

TCP controls the flow of information online by preventing data transmission bottlenecks and the Internet from coming to a mighty, screeching halt. Basically, when fewer people are online, information return is faster. When more people are online, it slows.

Upon observing the scavenging habits of harvester ants, Gordon found that ant colonies are controlled by the same concept. After discovering a large supply of food, more ants leave the colony. When food is scarce, the number of foragers is restricted.

In his New York Times bestseller, Breakpoint, author Jeff Stibel reflects upon the similarities between the Internet and biological networks like ant colonies to make predictions about the future of social networks like Facebook.

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