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article imageOp-Ed: Another active week in content marketing and social media circles

By Michael Krebs     Feb 16, 2014 in Business
New York - Business activity in social media and content marketing proved active this week, with Twitter hinting at delivering on its promises; forward-looking trends in video emerging; and LinkedIn stepping into a legitimacy question.
Making sense of the fast-moving content marketing and social media landscape can be a bit daunting, and this week saw considerable activity in the space, coming as it was on the heels of the 2013 earnings calls of Twitter and LinkedIn. For the podcast on this topic, tune in here.
Coming off their first earnings call — one that reflected record top-line revenue in Q4 2013 and that was defined by a disparate financial community that simply does not know how to define the company's value — Twitter remains one of the more volatile IPOs in recent memory. However, this volatility is more a reflection of the financial community's lack of understanding on Twitter than it is in the fundamentals of the micro-blogging social media platform.
Consider Twitter's recent activities:
1. Hiring marketing staffers for their coming social commerce platform.
2. Releasing photo-sharing capabilities in the Twitter mobile application to compete more directly with Instagram (Facebook's most promising future)
3. Introducing visualization coverage for the Sochi Olympics, keeping Twitter hyper-relevant to global events.
Even though Twitter delivered its best Q4 on record, the media buying community largely does not understand the platform. This is likely due to the selling strategies employed by Twitter — most likely focusing on the technicals of targeting and of reporting rather than discussing the overall fundamentals of the property's integral value to journalists, politicians, thought leaders in all fields, and business leadership circles. This is conjecture on my part, but I have seen similar behaviors in the sales force of digital properties that have considerably less targeting parameters than those available to Twitter.
After its first earnings call, Twitter's stock dropped on concerns over "timeline views per monthly user average." This can otherwise be termed "stickiness" or lack thereof.
This week, Twitter delivered a "quiet launch" of their new image-oriented profile page design. This was "leaked" to an assistant features editor at Mashable, and the story was immediately published by Mashable — underscoring the intelligence and coordination of Twitter's public relations and development teams. The new pending design upgrade will very likely answer the stickiness question head-on.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo expressed confidence in the company's growth map, speaking this week at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. I have to agree with him.
In other developments beyond Twitter, a couple of studies on digital video consumption have begun to surface — focused specifically on the forward projections of content strategists.
Citing a Cisco study, The Guardian reported in January that video consumption will account for 69 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2017. According to Business 2 Community, the average internet user is likely to watch 206 videos per month — and in 2014, it is expected that 50 percent of all internet traffic will be video consumption.
Yet, while 70 percent of marketers use video in their internet advertising mix, video currently ranks sixth among assets used in content marketing executions. This means that content strategists are not aligned with the videos consumption patterns expressed in the above surveys.
Many marketers and their advertising agencies remain centered on pre-roll, (the short-form video advertisements appearing before a given video clip). Additionally, long-form video content strategies remain affixed to YouTube executions that go largely unseen.
Modular editorial alone could greatly increase the visibility of a content marketing video execution, and video amplification of events — imported into half-page modules and syndicated across relevant editorial environments offer another solution. Embedded video in native advertising settings offer other alternatives to YouTube and to pre-roll.
The bottom line is that content strategists have to plan their editorial calendars with video in mind.
The last notable development in the content marketing and social media space this week had to do with a report released by LinkedIn on the small and medium business market, otherwise known as the SMB market.
The report was called Priming the Economic Engine: How Social Media is Driving Growth for Small and Medium Businesses.
LinkedIn surveyed just under 1,000 companies and found that 80% were bullish on 2014, with nearly 11% expecting to increase marketing budgets over 2013.
Key findings of the LinkedIn study:
1. Social media is good for marketing and for overall learning.
2. Social media spending and hyper-growth are related.
3. There are opportunities for financial services firms to influence SMB firms through social media, particularly on LinkedIn.
The questions that this report raise are these: Are these legitimate findings? Should LinkedIn's research publicly conclude that SMB solutions in social media are to be found on LinkedIn? Was this public study underwritten by a financial services firm, and should it have been released publicly at all?
A first-party research study of this nature should take a decidedly journalistic viewpoint. Any conclusions toward or away from a given property need to be drawn from third-party sources. These are the most basic rules when publishing research findings, and it very much appears that LinkedIn — who is coming off of a very bad earnings call, where serious product and management questions are emerging — is making an amateur mistake here and walking firmly into research illegitimacy.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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