Marketing insights from Amy Higgins, an influential Director of Content

Tatiana Beale
February 25, 2016
Top Influencers

This may be stating the obvious, but marketers love to be social. Whether on their favorite social channel or at the latest marketing mixer, we as marketers like to talk to each other. It helps us to validate what we’re doing in our everyday roles, and course correct when we come across an enticing new idea. As marketers we are always testing, measuring, and refining--and learning from our peers. There’s nothing more powerful than advice that comes from a trusted source.

I recently had the opportunity to connect with an influential marketer, Amy Higgins, Director of Content at Deem. Amy’s vast marketing expertise covers everything from social media to content marketing strategy to community engagement; plus, she’s a self-proclaimed ‘hardcore bacon nerd.’ As a former bacon-holic myself, it was clear we’d have a thing or two in common. (Don’t worry, I didn’t abandon bacon all together. It’s all about moderation.)

Here is Amy’s take on what’s plaguing marketers today, how they can overcome seemingly endless hurdles, and what’s coming down the pipe for marketing in the future.

About marketers:

TB: What are the top three pains marketers face in their roles today?

AH: The pains are the same as that they’ve always been. The players change, but the field is still the same. Marketers' biggest pains are time, money, and resources [Click to Tweet]. We never have enough time to do stuff, the money needs to be there, and then resources to make our jobs easier and more efficient.

TB: What’s stopping marketers from overcoming these pains?

AH: There are a couple things. First one, a lot of the challenges that I am currently facing revolve around buy-in. It’s getting a salesforce organization to understand how marketing actually helps sales. Some of the other challenges that we see are because there are more players in the field. I remember 5-6 years ago when there used to be only three social media platforms and what you could do was what you could do (as far as social media scheduling and monitoring). And now, it seems like everyday there is a new social media platform, on top of that a new scheduling tool, on top of that a new analytics tool. It’s about figuring out what works best for your purposes.

TB: What’s the magic fix? What do marketers need to do in order to overcome these hurdles?

AH: I think the main thing is figuring out one tool that syncs with others. There is not a tool that can do every single thing that you need or even does everything perfectly. Technology battles with how do we make the best product and how do we make products that fill the needs of a customer--but this often causes clutter. So technology tools focus on doing one thing and one thing only, but as a marketer we need a million things. We need to find a magical glue that will actually sync all of our tools together.

About Amy:

TB: Describe your role at Deem. What are you responsible for delivering?

AH: My role changes daily, as any marketer. I’m the Director of Content but, over the past week especially, my role has been expanding. My team and I produce all of our content, blogs, social, and we also focus on customer engagement. We work with the product team and product marketers. I’m also in charge of graphic design, which includes the look, feel, and branding. I also own website for UX and analytics too. The whole look and feel of the brand plus PR. Brand strategy and demand generation. It’s a wonder I find time to sleep or indulge in bacon.

TB: What is your top challenge in your role?

AH: My top challenge is my time, because you have a million people, inside the company, coming at you all wanting different things. You have to be able to prioritize and figure out what other teams want and more specifically, what they need. I have to sit down and talk to them, the first couple talks are always the hardest, but then, you get into a flow, a rhythm. I have to prioritize by saying if I do this, then that might suffer. And make them understand that they are not in a silo, which helps them understand there are other needs amongst the larger team.

About influencer marketing:

TB: You specialize in Content Marketing Strategy, Social Media Optimization, and Community Engagement (among other areas of expertise). In your opinion, how does influencer marketing fit into each of these disciplines? Does it apply more to one over the other, and why?

AH: I think influencer marketing gets a bad rap. It is really just community. It’s knowing your community and knowing the people who influence others. When people hear “influencer", they think they have to spend all this money. But it’s not that, really it’s just learning to be friends with people [Click to Tweet]. And that friendship and synergy helps both them and you. The other part of it is really about growing the community. Finding thought leaders in the space who can talk with us to help expand our awareness. At Deem, our influencer marketing is really all about community. It’s wonderful here, because we have this huge network. And this network uses each other, from a business perspective, but they don’t know each other. And so, part of my plan this year is to get people to know each other and to get the travel industry to be less siloed.

TB: Name a company or two that has nailed influencer marketing. Why are they so good at it?

AH: I like Content Marketing World/Content Marketing Institute. I hate to say them first because they are the known leaders in their space, they built their business on influencers and influencer marketing. They are the traffic directors, the symphonic conductors, the head chefs — everything they do and make money off is really based upon their influencers, and the friendships they build. I find that business model to be very intriguing. The fashion industry also does a wonderful job especially with all the new e-commerce. Brands like Le Tote and Birch Box; all these subscription-based services work with influencers for awareness and to improve their product offering.

TB: Do you think influencer marketing is critical for marketers to overcome their top pains? Why or why not?

AH: Yes, it’s a common problem that I face with new companies. Sometimes companies want to do the spray and pray approach. Spray everywhere and hope that they hit the target. However, with influencer marketing you can get targeted and detail oriented. It’s a very planned and precise direction. Then you rely on the influencer network to spread your message to the type of people you want to reach, instead of just hoping that you reach them.

About the future:

TB: What is the digital marketing landscape going to look like in 5 years?

AH: Well, it ebbs and flows. It goes from 100 new features, and we all have to use those 100 new features (#FOMO), then it flows down to the top two. Look at live streaming for example, you have Blab, Periscope, Meerkat, Google Hangouts; there are so many. As marketers, our challenge is that you must know everything and how it works, but then once one floats to the top with one speciality, you have to know that tool inside and out. You have to see the trend, and then optimize your strategy to use the trend to your company’s advantage. That fear of missing out is really one of our greatest challenges as marketers.

TB: How much do you think social media consumption will grow, stay stagnant, or decline?

AH: It’s like an industrial revolution. There will be more consumption, but eventually there is going to be a change in how much we consume. The trends like, “Don’t look at Facebook before going to bed, social media is bad, or get off Twitter.” Engage with people face-to-face. In the next five years, social media is really going to cross that barrier between staring at your phone and actually communicating with people face-to-face.

TB: What social media platforms do you think will rule over others?

AH: Things will become more privacy focused in the social media space. A couple years ago the trend started as, “Let’s talk about our lives and share everything,” and now there is more of a stream of, “Let’s talk amongst our friends but more privately.” Now you have groups and privacy settings where only certain people can see, which would make influencers even more important to gain access to those communities where the influencer is leading the group.

Now it’s your turn. Reach out to someone that you know--or maybe you don’t know--and get to know more about them as a person. It’s a great way to start, what could be, an ongoing conversation that will benefit you both.

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Tatiana Beale

A B2B content marketer and publisher with a passion for creating unique story ideas. A stellar planner and executor with a “customer first” journalistic approach. A resourceful problem-solver motivated by deadlines and impacting business results.