Along with working in and having a passion for technology, I have an interest in marketing and influencing. In my spare time, I am a keen gamer, and I think that crossover has given me an insight into the differences between how the next generation of technology users consume content in comparison to how companies currently market it.
When I was growing up, I read comic books and bought weekly/monthly computer magazines. These magazines often contained floppy disks, and later, CDs. This was how I consumed the latest information and learned what was coming. As I got into my teens and early twenties, the internet was taking off. Consumer services were cheap enough that a good percentage of people had dial-up internet. If you were lucky, you might have even had ISDN. This presented new ways to consume information: I joined bulletin board services, forums, and Internet Relay Chat (IRC).
Now, in my later years, not a great deal has changed. The main ways we consume content are still primarily community-based. We haven’t moved along a lot from the mediums we used before: forums are still prevalent, IRC just became Slack, we started using Twitter, and blogging and podcasting became more commonplace.
But the new generation is consuming content differently. They have grown up in an age where more instant consumption methods are available. Snapchat, Instagram, and other similar applications give them the news and views they want to see at the touch of a button. They can follow their favourite actors or sports personalities. A new generation of influencers has emerged. Almost anyone with a phone and the time can grow a following and use it to promote a wide range of products.
I have 4 young nephews, ranging in age from 4 to 14. When I look at how they approach technology and where they learn, I can see that it is changing again. As with a lot of children, they are interested in games like Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite. When they want to find out what is happening in that world or they want to know how to do something in the game, they turn to YouTube, Twitch, and Mixer.
Livestreaming services have grown massively in the 11 years since Twitch was launched (formerly known as Justin.tv). My journey on these services started with World of Warcraft, watching what other guilds and players were doing, enjoying an extension of an existing community in a different way. Livestreaming brings you into the world of the streamer—at times, it can almost feel like being invited into their homes and lives. The platform is interactive and real-time, and feedback can be obtained near instantly. This fits with the expectations of these new generations of technology users and content consumers.
Traditional B2B marketing and current corporate influence marketing programs fit very much into the consumption models I am used to. I traditionally blog and use services like Twitter and LinkedIn to spread the word. But that concerns me. How am I limiting my audience? How do I break out of the echo chamber of my own influence circle? How do we need to change?
We in the B2B space have a lot that we could learn from the next generation of consumers and B2C influencers. We need to reach out to them in the areas that they feel comfortable. We need to provide content in the format that they are already accustomed to. We need to bridge an already widening gap and stop it from becoming a complete disconnect. We need to make sure the next generation of technologists have access to the information they need.
It is up to us current influencers to change the game, extending our reach to areas like Snapchat, Instagram, and livestreaming services. Does that mean every new influencer should start up a new podcast? No, that market is saturated and isn’t being consumed by the audience we want. A regular livestreamed talk show would be a much better approach. That is something I would like to work on soon.
While at NetApp Insight as a member of the NetApp A-Team, I spent some time thinking about how we could expand what we do as influencers. The whiteboard sessions that we hosted in the social media hub could have been livestreamed for those who weren’t attending. The various A-Team activities could have been broadcast and used to spread the conference messages into new areas.
The entire technology conference world could learn from other industries. BlizzCon, the annual Blizzard convention, offers Virtual Tickets where people across the globe can attend via a computer, phone, or tablet. Many would think that this is a bad idea as they think the potential is there for delegates that would have come to no longer attend. However, this isn’t the case. You are in fact opening to a new audience that possibly can’t travel to a conference, but still want to consume the content.
I would also like to see more community-based activities take place throughout the year. Platforms like Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube give rise to a whole new way of collaborating. Imagine a Hackathon with members all over the world taking part at once, livestreamed for all to see. Unlike traditional events, remote viewers can interact, ask questions, and provide opinions in real-time.
The training market has started to move with these times. Services like Pluralsight and Udemy provide on-demand, easy-to-consume training offerings. Supplementing traditional, instructor-based courses with on-demand content is a model that appeals to all markets.
But what more can we do as influencers? The diverse nature of the NetApp A-Team brings a wide range of views and opinions. We have already as a group discussed many of the thoughts I’ve put into this blog. The NetApp A-Team is unique in that it has an open relationship with NetApp. This allows the team to shape the direction we take and work with NetApp closely to produce content in ways we see fit. We are always working on new ways to get the right content to the right people in the right way.
Do you have any ideas or opinions on the topic? Reach out to me on social media to discuss.