Rising To the Top: Percolate Reigning Content Marketing

When one of your founders is labeled a Brand Genius in New York, you know you’re doing something right.

tumblr_m0kvc1VzZy1qln7vao1_500Percolate, a platform that publishes and measures brand content on social media sites, was founded by Noah Brier and James Gross. And both have business savvy and some serious tech knowledge. Only 3 years old, Percolate is a tool that many big brands rely upon, like Ford, Nickelodeon, and Jawbone. They’ve also seen some tremendous growth in that time, telling of their success. (Fun fact: the SMW offices took over their recent offices, in which we have NO idea how they fit their entire staff!)

They will be leading a special track focused on what will be a crucial skill for marketers in 2014: content marketing. To get you ready, we talked with James Gross a little more.

  1. James, can you tell us a bit about Percolate and what you do?
    At Percolate we have a vision to redefine marketing through technology and a mission to be every brand’s content marketing platform. We do this by providing technology to a brand across planning, inspiration, sourcing, creation, publishing, monitoring and analytics. If that sounds like a lot, it is. We are excited by the depth of our platform and our growing client base.
  2. Percolate is a New York tech darling. In only 3 years, your team has seen incredible growth. Can you explain how you’ve achieved such success and the foundation for Percolate?
    We believe in 2 things:

    Find the biggest challenge marketers have. We have found that with content, the atomic unit of marketing. Similar to how Salesforce built technology to help the sales department manage contacts, Percolate helps marketers create and manage content. When you solve the content challenge, you have the ability to work across the entire marketing department.

    Find the best people to come work with you. We believe NYC has some of the greatest people in the world across all the areas that we care about: engineering, design and business. We are proud to say nearly 100 people in NYC now work with us.

  3. Can you explain why content marketing should be integral to brands’ marketing?
    We believe in a social, mobile world your content is your ad. As marketing becomes more and more driven by platforms with billions of users and unlimited targeting capabilities, the challenge is not how are you going to reach people. The challenge is what are you going to say to them, and how are you going to scale and sustain it. Percolate is the full end-to-end solution for a marketer who is looking for a technology platform to scale their marketing efforts.

  4. User-generated content is often seen as a holy grail for brands. But it’s not often done right and there is a debate on how to properly use this content. Percolate has recently developed some tools to assist. Can you elaborate on why this was a focus and how brands can land on the right side of this powerful tool?
    Billions of people on social platforms capture branded moments every second of the day. The challenge for the brand is often times they can’t acquire the rights to UGC in a scalable, legal manner. Before Percolate, brands used all sorts of crazy techniques to try and secure the rights to images, videos and other UGC.

    Only with Percolate does a brand have the unique opportunity to reach out to anyone who has captured a brand moment and get the legal rights to re-use that content in any way they see fit. For the user, our experience is just better than anything they have ever seen before as it relates to how they can rights manage their content. We have seen both happy clients and happy users with our UGC product.

  5. A lot of Percolate’s tools focus on making content more visually appealing. What is the importance of a visual strategy and how can brands get started?
    At 1.2 billion images shared daily across the four largest social platforms, there is no question that brands have to have a visual strategy. Brands also naturally like to communicate visually whenever possible, as this aligns well to the type of storytelling they are used to in a medium like television.

    Brands can get started by reusing images from their archives, tapping into the enormous potential of UGC across platforms, and enabling their workforce to capture and share brand moments.

    At Percolate, we have built technology to help surface content from archives, manage and acquire UGC, and iOS/Android apps to activate the employee base. Our app Photographer that puts the power of creation in the hands of a brand’s entire workforce.

  6. What advice would you give to a startup or entrepreneurs in being more effective with their marketing?
    Buy Percolate as your first marketing investment. 🙂

    Also, take your brand seriously. There are two key components to a business as Peter Drucker once said – Innovation and Marketing. The rest are just costs. You live or die based on your brand, start building it from day one.

We’re honored to have Percolate join us this February. And we know you need to be in attendance when they’re on stage. Get in on the action here.

8 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2014

Even though spending on social media marketing is at an all-time high and continues to grow, there’s a good reason that the overall portion of the marketing budget dedicated to social channels remains comparatively small. Frankly, this is a bit surprising. It’s been nearly 10 years after social media arrived on the scene; and today, social media essentially dominates as a share of digital consumer attention, yet social channels remain an under served target for many businesses.

The underlying reasons for this general underinvestment in social media marketing are complex. In general, marketers have discovered that attaining their objectives through social media can be less predictable, particularly because the discipline itself is one of the fastest changing in the media business. It is harder to tie outcomes to specific business goals. Directly translating traditional marketing activities into social media usually doesn’t produce the best results, as marketing efforts typically have to be rethought for two-way engagement, user participation, and/or viral amplification.

Some of the current data is sobering:

Yet over 70% of marketers plan on increasing their investment in social media next year, and by an average of 50%. This means marketers will be doing more in social, expectations by the business will be higher, and successful outcomes more important than ever.

In this environment then, my research indicates that marketing teams will be looking to increase the effectiveness of their social marketing efforts in three ways: a) by better adapting their digital assets and campaigns to social channels, b) shifting to a focus to managing for quality metrics, instead of just quantitative measures, and c) preparing for more rapid engagement in new channels including mobile and new emerging social networks.

Against this backdrop, here’s what 2014 holds in store for social media marketing:

  1. Marketers will get Facebook fatigue as the social networking giant continues to change its algorithms. 
    Fresh off the most recent — and rather contentious — changes to brand pages, marketers will re-evaluate how much they invest in the platform in 2014, looking for a more diversified social strategy. I’ve long recommended that companies serious about social media should avoid driving their traffic to Facebook in general, and the latest round of changes by Facebook should give marketers reason to carefully rethink their plans.
  2. The resurgence of Google+. 
    Now that Google+ has grown recently to become the #2 social network online, it will get new respect by marketers next year, who will figure out how to incorporate it into their social marketing plans.
  3. Image-based services and surprisingly, blogging, will see new emphasis. 
    Whether it is Pinterest or Instagram, or images in feeds on Twitter and Facebook, compelling visuals continue to drive high engagement and attention. Marketers will be looking at expanding their efforts in this area next year. Blogging will also return as a key engagement strategy that avoids the lock-in and control issues of major social media sites.
  4. Integrated marketing begins in earnest. 
    In 2014, it’ll be practical for the average organization to largely achieve a long-standing goal: Easily create an integrated marketing campaign that has presence and engagement capabilities at all the major social and non-social touchpoints. What’s new that will finally make this happen? The rise, maturity, and recent prominence of new multi-channel and “omnichannel” marketing platforms like Marketo and Eloqua that perform a lot of the work automatically to make consumer experiences seamless across Web, mobile, social, and other digital channels.
  5. Real-time marketing will get real. 
    RTM was all the rage this year, and powerful examples like T-Mobile’s customer retention effort demonstrated that major, market shifting results were possible. But most organizations were just learning about it in 2013. Next year, they will begin integrated real-time efforts into their social media efforts, particularly as more companies build social media command centers capable of scaled listening, triage, and dispatch.

  6. Social marketers will continue to struggle with mobile. 
    Over 250 million Facebook users are mobile-only and that number is growing. While Facebook was able to gets its act together around mobile, it took an investment and effort that most marketing organizations won’t possess. Organizations willing to focus on mobile-first for their social marketing efforts will fare better, but it will be another difficult year adapting marketing strategies to both social and mobile.
  7. The move to measurement of quality of engagement, instead of quantity. 
    Not that quantity won’t continue to matter, as it always determines the ultimate funnel size, but as measurement methods continue to improve dramatically, social marketers will also be able to determine if their efforts are resulting in the quality of engagement needed to drive business outcomes, like conversions. You can’t manage to what you can’t measure, and measuring quality of engagement will ensure more effective and efficient marketing campaigns in 2014
  8. A significant shift in the social networking landscape. 
    The emergence of Snapchat and a host of other new social networks and apps shows how dynamic the industry is. Marketers will find it easy to focus on the old standbys like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, yet some of the best demographic segments will shift their attention to new social networking services in 2014, and smart marketers will allocate resources and budget next year to tap into them.

Of course, much more will happen in social media marketing next year, but these will be some of the most significant in my analysis. That’s not to say that some of the strategies of five years ago aren’t still key. For example, I’m still sanguine the major investments in customer communities have the biggest bang for the buck, even as the window increasingly closes on the easy opportunities.

What are you seeing as the biggest trends for social media marketing next year?

Dion Hinchcliffe is the Chief Strategy Officer of Dachis Group. To find out more about Dachis Group’s session at Social Media Week, click here.