I want to start by saying that the headline is slightly misleading. What we are now facing in digital marketing is not a trend, but a paradigm shift – a substantial change.

It’s not only in the digital development, but in the very needs and behaviours of people, and in who owns the information and marketing online. And in not falling victim to the trend. Crazy exciting.

But I’ll try to be as brief as possible.

This is for those who want to create online reach, long-term value and credibility. For those of you, who want to own your field.

Something has happened with our confidence in sources on the Internet. Today a source is not only a book, a newspaper or a website. It might be an organization, a company and, above all, a brand.

The reason for this is that we are beginning to understand that the entire Internet is all about information. To own an audience online you must act as an information business. You have to create information, distribute it and establish a reputation of being the best information provider. At least within a specific niche, where you can be the king – of content marketing.

Then, why is this? And why is it relevant?

It’s up to the customer – or is it?

Information has become a currency worth its weight in gold. This is because it’s no longer journalists, newspapers or media companies who provide the stories in people’s news feed, but the people themselves. They think.

People choose what companies they follow on Facebook and what brands they want to see in their news feed. They can mix articles from New York Times with ads from McDonald’s and blog posts from H&M – all in the same feed. They design their own subscriptions to information in social media, or in apps like Omni.

You would think that this leads to chaos. But it doesn’t, because Facebook, Instagram and Google have already found the solution to that: new algorithms.

September 6th 2016: TechCrunch, with 7.5 million followers on Twitter, describes Facebook's algorithm for designing your news feed.
September 6th 2016: TechCrunch, with 7.5 million followers on Twitter, describes Facebook’s algorithm for designing your news feed. Read the full article here.

For people to get their tailor-made feed, Google and Facebook have changed their algorithms from showing information published in chronological order to showing the posts according to what you seem the most interested in. Therefore you mainly see what they think you like the most – based on your, and sometimes your friends’, online behaviour.

Your brand can be up there. At the top. Frequently. Ranked as the best. 

How to own your target audience’s feed

It all comes down to one thing: what you do to deserve that position and attention. If you know the way to get to the top of your target audience’s feeds, to get shared and renowned, it’s unbeatably more effective than paid advertising space like AdWords or Facebook Ads. Then you are aiming at the very heart of your target group – and they not only find you, but they choose you.

How to do it then?

Until now companies basically have been able to piggyback on this phenomenon, that is to say social media’s ways to present content to their users. But from now on Google and Facebook want to charge you even more for exposure.

Unless your content is so great that Google and Facebook WANT to promote it, because its quality says something about them and their ranking system.

Now, this is the key.

It’s not enough to just create content based on SEO keywords or the insights about your target audience. That’s yesterday’s marketing.

Here’s where we get to the heart of the matter.

The new brand tactics of Google and Facebook

Today the two giants Google and Facebook mainly want to do three things:

  1. they want to overtake the journalists’ role as gatekeepers to the news bills, i.e. deciding what content and ranking will be seen in our feeds, 
  2. they say they want to downplay the ‘filter bubble’ phenomenon, i.e. wanting to balance our social media feeds so we don’t live in different realities, and 
  3. they want to eliminate clickbait, i.e. ’11 signs that you…’ and ‘You won’t believe what happens next…’ articles. 

These three things all aim to rank, promote and reward high-quality content instead of mediocre content. Partly because it has become their responsibility and partly because it makes them look good.

The trend is not to follow the trend, but to create something sustainable and lasting: quality.

It’s a reaction to spam, and ‘spam’ today is not only junk mail, but everything that is not highly relevant for the user (the target audience). Simply because it’s damaging Google’s and Facebook’s brands and credibility. They themselves however, say that it’s because they have a social responsibility.

 

New York Times, August 4th 2016: Facebook say that they are going to promote quality content and avoid clickbait. The headline "Shocker!" makes fun of the typical clickbait headline.
New York Times, August 4th 2016: Facebook say that they are going to promote quality content and avoid clickbait. The headline ”Shocker!” makes fun of the typical clickbait headline. Read the full article here.

‘High quality’ doesn’t mean high quality

Therefore a high-quality text doesn’t necessarily have to be a well-written text like those by Dostoyevsky or Jean-Paul Sartre. Here, high quality means as correct and relevant as possible for the target audience. If that means using slang or a specific jargon, then that is high quality – if it’s found, consumed and appreciated by your target audience.

And all of this is measurable. You can even measure how far down the reader has scrolled.  

Only those of you who create and share OUTSTANDING content will have a great reach. That is to say: the leading brands will be the brands that create content

 

    1. that has understood the algorithms of the big Internet oligarchs,
    2. that offers something highly relevant for the target audience,
    3. that’s appreciated and glorified by the target audience, and
    4. that’s not only published occasionally, but continuously, and on a long-term basis

This is my trend forecast, based on my work with digital communication for both big and small brands in several countries.

High-quality content is the next big thing in marketing.

Not only does it increase the reach of strong brands. It builds them, and creates even more satisfied customers. It gives you the possibility to own your field.

Even Google highlights this, and emphasizes that it’s not about ‘good content’ but ‘original, high-quality content’:

Image from Google's own online course in creating a successful website. "Make a great site – Create high-quality content".
Image from Google’s own online course in creating a successful website. ”Make a great site – Create high-quality content”. You can take the course here.

Google recognizes syntax quality

Every day, Google and Facebook become better at detecting and recognizing quality. Not only if a text online is interesting, but also if it’s well written. Their algorithms understand sarcasm, irony and syntax (sentence structure) and know when something is badly executed.

The development towards increased sensitivity to quality is moving fast.

This means you need to be BRILLIANT.

Then, why does Google care about quality?

It’s a direct result of the fact that Google and Facebook have taken over the journalists’ job to curate, evaluate and present something customized, nuanced and qualitative – a form of truth. Because we go to their feeds and search engines for information, and expect to find answers that are relevant and true.

As shown below Google writes that the search results nowadays prioritize ranking and showing ‘high-quality, in-depth content’.

Google informs us that their algorithm promotes "high-quality, in-depth content" and long reads – the end of short clickbait and SEO spam.
Google informs us that their algorithm promotes ”high-quality, in-depth content” and long reads – the end of short clickbait and SEO spam. Read the full article at Official Google Webmaster Central.

 

The recipe for successful communication

Do you want your deserved attention?

Here’s the recipe:

Create high-quality content for the right audience. Invest in it: engagement, research and competence. Don’t mass produce. Don’t put any writer on the job – get a good one. Then share and publish it according to a strategy. Remember: your brand is at stake every time you publish something.

SEO is no longer just about keywords. Search Engine Optimization is about providing the high quality content that the search giants are looking for. Not only the words, but the whole picture.

Yesterday:
SEO = keyword optimized for Google

Tomorrow:
SEO = targeted and quality labelled
(the SEO is just one piece of the puzzle)

If you play by the rules, you will create content and marketing that is irresistible. You will own your market segment and your target audience. Not only does your communication distribute your brand, but it constantly builds it and adds value to it.

Reach them. And make them come back for more. 

Meet Petter Andersson, content writer, who claims that the filter bubble is real and dangerous.

 

Hi Petter! What do you do at Ode?

– I produce quality content, scout trends and fiddle around with WordPress.

What’s your background?

– I studied sociology and cultural studies for some years, before I decided to become an Information architect. When I graduated, I had already started my career as a copywriter and Mixed Martial Arts journalist. Along with my writing I also built websites and worked as editor in chief for MMAnytt and Söderåsens miljöförbund.

What do you think is the main challenge for marketers today? 

– To deal with the fact that people really don’t like ads or commercials. It’s regarded as visual or audio noise, and that’s why they install pop up-blockers, turn off the volume on the TV and spend a good amount of time mocking the ads on Facebook, caused by different not so sharp algorithms.

Another tough nut to crack is the problem with two major companies pretty much controlling the traffic on Internet. The filter bubble is real, and it’s dangerous. The short-term advantages with customized information are small compared to risks: the credibility of companies, newspapers, science and politics.

petter-andersson

And the most common marketing or communication mistake that companies make?

– To assume that companies should cure bored or indifferent consumers by being funny or somewhat ‘crazy’, when they really should be focusing on providing real value for their customers. The old saying: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half”, is still oh so true.

That’s why any modern company should:

  1. Produce relevant, useful and truthful information, i.e. content.
  2. Measure: collect and evaluate data, to make sure their money is not going down the drain.

What do you do at work, when you think that no one sees you?

– Squats. Sitting is the new smoking.

Where do you find inspiration?

– In good journalism, books and George St. Pierre’s meticulous work ethic.

 

Meet copywriter Linnéa Gudmundson, who says today’s marketers should use the 80/20-rule – and never forget that their clients are in fact very much like themselves.

 

Hi Linnéa! What do you do at Ode?

– I’m a copywriter and strategic consultant, and co-founded the agency last year. I help our clients in making strategic decisions about communication and PR, create strategies and plan marketing activities that align with the brand’s message and concept, so that they bring both long-term and short-term results.

– I also develop the tone-of-voice, visual guidelines, slogans, copywriting for websites, ads and other types of advertising and communication platforms.

linnea-gudmundson

What’s your background?

– I have quite a mixed background … I studied journalism for three years at the University of Gothenburg, copywriting at Berghs, screenwriting at Biskops-Arnö and visual communications at Malmö University. I also studied film and video and have produced and directed a documentary that was launched at Gothenburg Film Festival.  

– Since I moved to Malmö in southern Sweden I’ve worked as a communications officer at Nordic Aid and copywriter at South Communication and Dynamic Dog. I did my internship at KAN

What do you think is the main challenge for marketers today? 

– To realize that it’s the soft values that generate the hard ones. We easily forget that our clients are in fact very much like us. We’re all humans with our different problems, who dream of true community, to belong and feel that we have a purpose. 

– I think we need to remind ourselves about that more frequently, when analyzing target groups and shaping strategies, so that the marketing really lasts, reaches the right people and feels genuine. Otherwise, no one remembers it.

And the most common marketing or communication mistake that companies make?

– So far, I’ve never met a company that works according to the 80/20-rule: Let 80 % of your communication be about the things that interest your customers. Then they will automatically listen when you talk about yourself, your services and products the remaining 20 %.

– Actually, most companies do the opposite. Even the ones with a solid plan and strategy that produce great, valuable content that their customers want to share – their marketing is still 80% focused on themselves, which gives the customers or prospects no reason to engage, interact or share anything whatsoever.

What do you do at work, when you think that no one sees you?

– I take off my shoes and listen to Dire Straits! But please don’t tell anyone. 

Where do you find inspiration?

– I’m inspired by brave people who think for themselves and have a sense of humor. I read new bloggers and thought leaders almost every day, but the most recent thing I shared on LinkedIn was a post by Fast Company, who always gives relevant insights from other marketers in an easy way, while looking ahead.

– In general I’m inspired by companies that invest in building their brand through CSR. One example is IKEA, who just built a replica of a Syrian home, bombed and with torn mattresses on the floor, as part of their campaign ”Where life happens” by Åkestam Holst. A win both for the brand and for society, and a campaign in line with their concept. It’s also viral and shareable in all different kinds of channels and social media, and possible to re-use in future campaigns.