Famed marketer Seth Godin dubbed today’s business and marketing environment “the connection economy.” The label’s based on the premise that real value comes from the connections a brand fosters.
Consumers actively seek out brands offering transparency, trustworthiness, corporate responsibility, loyalty to their loyal customers, and free exchange of information and ideas. They connect with these brands in meaningful ways that enrich their consumer experiences and spur growth for the brands.
Connection Economy Business Models
Entire business models have emerged around the idea of connection and have quickly become enormously successful. They thrive by literally leveraging the principle that value lies in connections, simply connecting consumers to products or services they want, rather than providing them. For example:
- Uber is the country’s biggest taxi service, but it doesn’t own any cabs
- Without owning any property, AirBnB is the leading provider of travel lodgings
- The largest media company—Facebook—creates no content
- Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites make no investments, but funds acquired through them are projected to surpass traditional venture capital investments in 2016
Connecting Consumers to Information with Content Marketing
Established brands with more traditional business models are growing and evolving in the connection economy too, and content marketing is one of their most important tools. When content marketing is done well, it connects a brand’s target market to the information, inspiration, entertainment, or other value they crave.
Content marketing’s power grows every year, and in 2016 it’s an amazing way to capitalize on the connection economy. Consider just a few types of connections fostered by content marketing:
- Google increasingly prioritizes sites that regularly publish high-quality content, so it boosts SEO and connects targeted traffic to exactly what it’s searching for
- When people are connected to the content they want, it greatly improves the user experience and builds the value of a website
- Consumers connect much more strongly to brands that generously share expertise and show genuine interest in improving their customers’ lives
- People share worthy content with friends, family, coworkers, social media connections, their own blog readerships, and others, strengthening existing connections and creating bridges between brands and new fans
Connecting Consumers to Each Other and Brands on Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool for bringing strangers together around common interests. The brands most successfully applying social media marketing to the connection economy don’t simply use their pages for self-promotion.
These companies turn their social media pages into resources where existing and potential customers and fans can find all sorts of content and discussions about their shared interests and concerns. This requires a solid grasp of the brand’s buyer persona, as well as selfless sharing of the right content and ideas to provide stimulation and value to followers.
When consumers engage with each other and a brand on social media, deeper relationships form. The brand becomes associated with the interests of its target audience and respected as a source of desirable content. It becomes appreciated as a catalyst for connections. And all of this amounts to more trust, loyalty, and endorsement via word-of-mouth (or word-of-social-media-shares).
Start Making Connections
Connections develop through communication. It’s never been easier to speak directly to your customers and potential customers, to your biggest fans and even your detractors. Reach out to them via email, social media, or in your store. Find out what your brand can do to engage them and make their lives just a little better. Then go ahead and do it.