Social Media Strategy

Three Digital Marketing Trends for 2014 and Beyond

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Three Digital Marketing Trends

badge-guest-post-FLATTEREarlier this fall, I keynoted at Lee Jean’s Digital Days, a day long event for Lee Jean’s marketing teams and their agency partners. They asked me to share a few digital marketing trends that were beyond the tipping point. I discussed three: Real-Time Marketing, Creating Youtility, and Empowering Employees & Fans.

1. Real-Time Marketing

The term Real-Time Marketing is overhyped. I’m sure a few of you are rolling your eyes right now. I get it, but I don’t think we – in the digital marketing industry – have really defined it and provided the rationale for a more steady state of Real-Time Marketing.

What does Real-Time Marketing mean?

Real Time Marketing is using data analytics with a process flow to shift marketing messaging in real time or near real time.

The key words in my definition are really process, flow, and shift. Real-Time Marketing isn’t going to work without a documented and blessed process flow. If there is no shift in your marketing messaging, then there’s no “real-time” element.

You can call it whatever you want if you think the term “Real-Time Marketing” is too limiting or overhyped. Call it Agile, Marketing in the Moment, Engagement Marketing…

Really, at its core, it is simply Marketing.

RTM example

Real-Time Marketing has three unique layers:

  1. It’s a process, not a project (meaning there’s no start and stop date)
  2. It’s an ongoing newsroom, not an advertising campaign
  3. The content has to be brand-relevant and current but not a buzz wedge

To me, a “buzz wedge” is when something going on in the news is trending (the buzz) and a company tries to capitalize on it with a story or social post even though the buzz is completely off brand (the wedge).

How many buzz wedge RTM tweets have we all seen and groaned over? I think I should devote a post to a few of them, eh?

nelson mandela

2. Creating Youtility Through Care, Context, and Creativity

Jay Baer coined the word Youtility and it’s the title of his NY Times best selling book, Youtility – Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype. I highly recommend you grab yourself a copy. It’s jam-packed with excellent content marketing case studies from companies large and small and plenty of how-to’s. Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it.

I bundled a few of Jay’s key Youtility points to explain this second trend – Creating Youtility. In the digital world, customer service is front and center, and a two-way dialogue mandatory. Secondly, social listening isn’t just for passive and reactive company actions like brand protection and customer service. Social listening is also for proactive company actions like product innovation, marketing sideways, and sales.

We will see more and more traction with Youtility as we roll into 2014. Yes, you can hold me to that.

3. Empowering Employees & Fans

This is about enabling your best fans to tell your brand story in digital. Brand advocacy boils down to having simple tools like our Social Advocator, providing content with guardrails, and making sure you don’t mandate employees or fans (through loyalty program requirements) to share. So, no voluntolds – period.

The three trends cover always-on marketing, providing creative content marketing and product innovation through social listening, and giving your brand advocates the means to share stories about your brand. There are a ton more to cover and I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments or feel free to shoot me a tweet so we can keep chatting this up.

Facebook Comments


  1. M. Philip Oliver says

    Great information Zena, Thanks. Reminds me of what Gary Vaynerchuk has/had done/accomplished with (their) Wine sales (this is 2nd hand); BEFORE the majestic “app’s” that are available now.

  2. says

    Great insight, Zena. I think these three are solid tips and all guaranteed for the future of marketing. I think some brands have already started proactively listening and understand the concept of providing help instead of just hype. Empowering employees and fans is still in the works, but it’ll be interesting to see how successful brands are in providing the right tools and resources to those important people.

  3. Alice Lankester says

    Thanks for the insight. When it comes to empowering fans and followers on social to help share and spread content and messages, brands need the tools to make it easy to make that participation fun and frictionless for a constant stream of both company, and fan content that is relevant and on message — there’s often too much friction to participation, particularly on mobile. We’re also seeing clients wanting to make coherent ‘sense’ of that myriad of social content through curated social channels that draw from multiple sources and tie back to the brand story.

    PS, Loving the term “buzz wedge.” That would be Kenneth Cole’s shoe tweets during the Egypt uprising… Now I am glad I have a name to go along with the fail. Thanks!

  4. says

    Hi Zena. I totally agree about the power of real-time marketing! Like you mentioned about Oreo’s Super Bowl tweet in your SlideShare, highjacking a hot topic or trend is an awesome way to drive engagement. Another great example was Starbucks UK’s royal baby tweet which included a picture of the Royal Family as Starbucks cups. This tweet resulted in 919 Retweets and 493 Favourites.

  5. Michael Bian says

    he reason that marketing is so important to businesses is that it is how you get customers.

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  8. says

    Real Time Marketing is using data analytics with a process flow to shift marketing messaging in real time or near real time. Jay Baer coined the word Youtility and it’s the title of his NY Times best selling book, Youtility Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype.