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5 Questions with Mark Schaefer, Principal at Schaefer Marketing Solutions

Mark W. Schaefer is a marketing powerhouse. In fact I have my doubts that he is actually human with all that he is able to accomplish year in and year out.

His official bio reads…

Mark W. Schaefer is a globally-recognized blogger, speaker, educator, business consultant, and author who blogs at {grow} – one of the top marketing blogs of the world. He teaches graduate marketing classes at Rutgers University and has written four best-selling books including The Tao of Twitter (the best-selling book on Twitter in the world) and Return On Influence, which was named one of the top business titles of the year by the American Library Association. His latest book is called Social Media Explained: Untangling the World’s Most Misunderstood Business Trend.”

But more than that, Mark is genuine, an invaluable resource to marketers, and not afraid to shake things up a bit as evidenced in his post Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy.

Let’s start there…Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy.

Question One – Content Shock and Its Aftershocks

Content Shock. Let’s dive right in. Your argument is that the ever increasing amount of content created each day will eventually eclipse our ability to consume it, creating a premium on eyeballs in a sense. Aside from buying those eyeballs, do you see a tech answer to the content shock issue or will something more creative come along?

That’s an interesting angle on the question. I do think tech will play a big part in overcoming the crunch we are in.

There have been three digital revolutions. The first, with a focus on web presence was enabled by the world wide web. The second, focused on search, was enabled by Google. The third, which is all about utility and service, was brought about by the social web and mobile.

Here’s the problem, as we reach the end of each revolution, we encounter problems because competitors catch on and everything gets crowded — with websites, with SEO ploys, and now with content. So we’re in this period of content shock until the new era comes around, which will be enabled by augmented reality and wearable tech. So yes, tech will play a very big role getting us to the next era.

Question Two – Content Utilities

Speaking of content, you spoke recently about Zite, a new content utility. I’ve been telling people for years that aggregators are the future. Google is really morphing into an aggregator as far as I see it. So, where does this leave marketers? Will this be another example of “those with deep pockets win?”

The main point I was trying to make with the Content Shock article was to get the point across that our world is changing and marketers have to start adjusting now.

I think filters represent another aspect of that story. Today the strategy for content marketing is fairly straightforward: Find an unsaturated niche, fill it with content and figure out how to get to show up on Google search results.

But what happens when people start getting their information in other places? Zite is one utility of many and it has nothing to do with Google. So yes, it is going to get complicated. I’m not sure it will be the deep pockets that win, but probably the first movers will have an advantage.

Question Three – Social Business

You work with a lot of large companies helping them with their social media marketing efforts. As more and more companies pay their way into social channels, do you see a backlash coming anytime soon from the masses?

No, not at all.  I don’t think people care how the content is delivered as long as they get entertainment and a deal now and then!

I think the backlash is more likely to come from the brands who will have to increase their budgets to get through the algorithms and filters to reach the same audience they reached for free three years ago. The cost of staying in the game will be going up and not all businesses will be able to support that. Once again, the message of Content Shock.

Question Four – Influence Marketing

I listen to a lot of bands that I find literally by checking to see what the bands I like listen to. To me, these musicians are the influencers who determine the makeup of my playlist. I see versions of this in many different types of media. What would you say the future of influence looks like? Really, what I am asking is are the influencers aware they are influencers in the sense that they see the value of their influence and will continue to exploit that? Or will they always just be the “cool kids” who just seem to know?

Ha! Great question. We are really still on the cusp of this whole field of influence marketing. Most businesses are pretty clunky at it right now but a few are really doing amazing things.

For example, one brand is identifying micro-cultural trends in art, music, sports, fashion, etc and then finding the influencers in those movements. They are systematically surrounding those influencers with their brand so if it turns into something they will own the space.

Another company is doing multi-year research on the impact of “share of conversation” on sales and marketshare. Quite sophisticated stuff.

Influence marketing, as I described in my book Return On Influence, is going to be huge as many other channels we have used to reach our customers become less effective.

Question Five – IBM’s Watson and the Borg

You work with IBM. Watson scares me. How soon before we really do become the Borg?

It is already happening. I am a Borg, for example and I decided to come out now, right here on your blog. It’s funny nobody has guessed this about me yet. I mean I have written four books in four years and publish nearly every day on my blog. How else could I get this done without the hive-mind?

Seriously though, Watson is probably the least-scary technology I have seen in a while. It has the chance to really change the way the world learns and solves problems. I think we will see a day soon when we will have this on our smart phones. Can you imagine what it will be like having cognitive computing in your hand? It will change the way to approach the world and I think that is a good thing.

Bonus – The Bennies of Being a Borg

Wait four books? Do you have a new one out?

Yes, Social Media Explained. It solves a big problem for me. Everywhere I go I get the same big questions about social media marketing. So, I answered them in one place!

The book is designed to aid the busy executive and create a sense of confidence that they can move forward and ask the right questions to drive progress and change.

And Mark was nice enough to get me a {growtoon}…

The {growtoons} have been retired for now but I guess we can bring one back for this post. Thanks for the great interview!


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