The Marketing Revolution: Perspective from Percolate

June 12, 2014

Last month, Percolate’s Co-Founder James Gross visited LinkedIn’s San Francisco offices to speak with the Marketing Solutions team about his perspective on the evolving content marketing landscape. Percolate is a LinkedIn Certified Marketing Partner for Company Pages and Content.

Percolate fills a unique position at the intersection of technology and creative, aiming to improve marketers in a quickly evolving marketing landscape through scaling their ability to develop rich, engaging content.

I sat down with James for some Q&A following the meeting. The following are his thoughts on where the world is headed, and how marketing will evolve in the process.

Q&A With James Gross, Co-Founder of Percolate

jamesJonathan: You founded Percolate with Noah Brier around the end of 2010. What’s changed in the past 3.5 years?

James: A couple major things. First, social has proven itself as a business. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have all gone public, with a collective market cap of $200B. Second, smartphones really moved the center of gravity for social networks to mobile, with Android and iOS now totaling well over one billion users. Finally, every employee is on social and every employee is mobile. HR has already shifted to be a function focused on social, as platforms like LinkedIn move to be the most important resource for recruiting new employees inside the Fortune 500. What's more, if your organization is anything like ours, social is now the most important tool at a sales professional's disposal as they go about researching and prospecting potential clients and consumers.

The enterprise is in transition and marketers and the marketing discipline have to adapt to these technological shifts.

Jonathan: How are marketers supposed to get a handle on all this change? How do we make sense of everything?

James: A great way to look at it is through the framework set forth by Marshall McLuhan, one of the greatest media thinkers of the 20th century. McLuhan said that “the ‘message’ of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs.”

What’s the scale of marketing? It’s global. In 2009, you look at which social network is the leading across various nations, and more than a dozen platforms are vying for position. In 2014, Facebook is number one in 127 nations. And yet Facebook is by no means a monopoly: there are now 15 social platforms, including LinkedIn, with over 100M monthly active users globally. For the first time ever, marketers are now going to be making marketing decisions about how to reach billions of people instead of millions while at the same time having more powerful direct targeting tools than ever before.

What’s the pace of marketing? It’s the stream. People are always looking for what’s next —  from their friends, their brands, their publications. The pull-to-refresh gesture on a mobile device is perhaps the most commonly understood mechanism in the world. We also see mobile as the first screen, not the second and the data supports that. For marketers, the question becomes, how do you build communication that never ends and how do you create messages that will be relevant when every time your I want to pull-to-refresh my screen?

What’s the pattern of marketing? It’s content. Mark Andreessen now famously proclaimed in 2011 that software is eating the world.

The output of the social and mobile technology changes we are now living through is our appetite for creating and sharing media is nearly infinite. It’s the software and media platforms that understand this trend and the marketers that build frameworks around it that will thrive. LinkedIn’s publishing platform is just another example of how content has become the atomic unit of marketing.

Jonathan: What’s next? How will the role of marketing evolve in this new landscape?

James: The way we see it, the changing landscape calls for marketers to change in three major ways:

  • Marketers must move from a campaign-based mindset of stock content (a few big hits) to a model of sustained stock & flow content (a few informed big hits and many small hits).
  • Marketers must become literate, not in talking to millions, but in talking to billions of potential customers.
  • Marketers must move from buying and creating media to building systems that enable rapid creation of quality content.

What's really exciting about all this is it took us 25 years to get to 3 billion people on the internet.  In the next five years, it is estimated that we will double that number to 6 billion. How will that change the world we live in? I don’t know but I’m positive it is for the better. We truly live in amazing times, as marketers and as people, and I can’t wait for what is next.

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About the Author: Jonathan Young is LinkedIn’s content marketing lead for Financial Services, working with companies and partners to maximize content marketing opportunities on LinkedIn. Learn more about our Content Partner program here.

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