The shared economy is so much more than the act of sharing an image, a ride, a place to crash, or even a tweet. Sharing is a socio-economic system built around the exchange of resources. It is increasingly germane to our every day experience. But what does sharing have to do with media, marketing, and advertising?
Everything! Sharing is the future of our market economy.
The customer journey of discovery, consideration, intent, and purchase is no longer a funnel but a series of micro moments, macro experiences, and explorative journeys. It is increasingly fueled by the new media economy of sharing and engagement on digital, mobile platforms, and in store.
It is a direct response to advances in technology, the influence of the millennial generation, and the behavioral changes that both have created. The proliferation of mobile, the integrated daily consumption of social media -- sharing and posting as a ways and means of communicative expression is interwoven into our lives and in our buying behaviors. To ignore or not plan against sharing to connect your customers and influencers to your brand is a media and marketing failure.
The media economy has evolved on one end, by increasingly automated media buying, like programmatic buying. On the other end, people are powering the message at scale and influence never experienced before.
Who created the shared economy?
In short, Millennials are to blame (for better or worse) for the shared economy. These digital natives have some of the largest digital footprints and are approaching their prime spending years.
Their affinity for mobile experiences has fueled an evolution of how we all discover, shop, buy, and sell goods and services. Uber, for example, is a reflection of how the shared economy disrupted how we get from here to there. Airbnb disrupted how we book accommodations; peer-to-peer buying and selling platforms like Poshmark are disrupting fashion retail. Sharing and being frugal are now perceived as cool and even environmentally friendly. Community sharing are the "now" trends.
"Sharing is social. As bricks and mortar retail declines the combination of social + commerce is paramount to scaling discovery for today's mobile consumer, "explains Manish Chandra, Poshmark founder and the godfather of social shopping.
Strategic planning for sharing
In the shared economy, earned media is increasingly becoming more valuable and, as a result, so is the level of effort, strategy, and planning required to earn a meaningful reach, impact, and return. Different levels of investment, strategy, and production values across content and audience need to map back to intended outcomes.
In other words, all content and platforms are not created equal in relation to your brand and neither is the value of the outcome.
If we want sharing to have any value, you have to plan and invest toward it.
The key planning elements are:
- Sharing platform prioritization
- Target audience
- Desired behavior
- Level of value
- Relevancy and value of content
Start with identifying and prioritizing your brand and consumer sharing platforms. Don't limit your thinking to social channels and platforms. Sharing activation can be extremely effective in both destinations and drivers including in-store, email, or display ads -- and, even more so as we look forward to the maturation of augmented and virtual reality.
Next, map each destination and driver to a desired behavior and intended outcome. Assign relative values to these outcomes. Consider your target audience in your prioritization as well, and be sure to be mindful of where your brand character attributes are most effectively expressed. For example, Instagram might be more of a priority for food or fashion brands because eye candy is a key selling attribute and your audience may be skewed more towards women.
After going through this exercise, you should have a well-developed map and plan where you can then start to allocate budget across content development, features, functionality and paid media that align with your goals, audience and desired outcomes.
How do you measure the value of sharing?
CMO.com by Adobe has reported that sharing can trigger a purchase up to 50x more than a paid impression. When media is shared, we call it "earned." Earned media is the extended value of paid or organic social or influencer activity. While this is not new, the level of importance to plan, invest and measure against it is increasingly essential.
Media value in the shared economy is best measured by engagement; a share, a conversion, a purchase or even a click. Earned Media Value (EMVs) validate the increasing use of high-engagement influencer, audience-buying seeding tactics, and content marketing strategy in a shared economy.
When formulating the value of sharing and engagement consider the following:
Someone taking an action has value. Clicking through to a digital property, a share, a check-in are all indicators that a piece of content engaged a behavior that has value to your business and goals.
Lead generation and conversion
Signing up for an email, filling out a form, these and other conversions are increasingly influenced by a share. That demonstrated interest and conversion has real value.
Sales and revenue
Direct sales from social sharing are also increasingly attributable to ecommerce or digital transactions via shop now type mechanisms. Likewise, if someone downloads a coupon from a share and purchases that has value you can take to the bank.
The future of sharing
There is no stopping the sharing economy. It is increasingly integral to how we experience our world and how we connect to everything and everyone in it. The problem you need to start solving for is how to inspire the desired behavior and actions from your customers and would-be customers in a shifting, often amorphous sharing marketplace.