Internet marketing has many facets, all of which are continually changing and evolving in response to factors such as new technology and changes in consumer behavior. Perhaps the most dynamic facet of internet marketing, though, is social media. Changes in the social media sphere are constant, and social media users are continually finding new and different ways to use social media not only day-to-day, but moment-to-moment.
In order to answer the question of “What’s next in Internet marketing?” then, we clearly have to take a close look at what’s happening in social media, and what we can expect in the future.
Word-of-mouth marketing is certainly nothing new, and it has seen its fair share of evolution over the years. However, the advent of the Social Media era has ushered in change at a breakneck pace. Where word-of-mouth advertising once generally involved face-to-face, one-on-one interactions, today word-of-mouth can be spread to vast audiences online. It comes as no surprise, then, that Influencer Marketing has become one of the hottest topics in advertising, and many brands are eager to see how they can put the power of word-of-mouth advertising to good use.
It’s doubtful that Influencer Marketing is merely a passing phase, and we expect that we’ll continue seeing growth and development in this area for the foreseeable future. Naturally, strategies and approaches will change as social media continues to evolve, but using influential voices to reach the masses is likely to form the cornerstone of many brand strategies.
Take a look at some of the most popular content from the past year, and you’ll see a clear trend: visual content is becoming incredibly important. This is a natural result of our increasing dependence on mobile, and our tendency to try to maximize efficiency in every way. Visual content is appealing, quick to consume and easily digested, giving us information or entertainment in bite-sized chunks without having to wade through information we don’t need or want. Infographics, memes, gifs and videos are a great way to get your message across quickly and clearly, in a format that your audience loves.
Of course, when it comes to visual content, looking good isn’t enough: it has to deliver some punch. Whether it’s a compelling strapline, a poignant thought or a fascinating factoid, visual content is only as powerful as its message.
Increase in real time marketing
Whether we’re talking about traditional marketing, digital marketing or social media marketing, there’s one factor that is probably more important than any other: relevance. Products need to be relevant to a customer’s needs, and brands need to be relevant to the world around them. Social media marketing has given rise to an unprecedented opportunity to establish relevance, in real time. Brands can now respond in real time to current events, whether they’re lighted-hearted (such as Kit Kat’s amusing response to “Bendgate”) or serious (such as the outpouring of support for the victims of the Boston Marathon attack).
Responding to current events in real time is a great way to establish a sense of personality and relevance, and we expect to a lot of growth in real-time engagement between brands and consumers in the future.
Growing importance of consistency
Quality over quantity is hardly a new formula, but it’s a message that bears repeating – when it comes to content of any kind, focusing on quality rather than volume is key. However, for the best impact, you’ll also need to be consistent. Allowing long gaps between your social media activities could lead to lost interest. There’s an even more compelling reason to stay consistent: a steady flow of content allows you to build a long-term content strategy that builds on your previous efforts for a cohesive branding message that sticks.
There are other important reasons to focus on consistency. As the number of brands entering the social media arena continues to grow, you’ll need to stay consistent in order to keep your brand in the forefront. Of course, balance is important: you want to be consistent without being overwhelming; inundating your followers with updates and tweets is a good way to get them to ignore you, or remove you from the list brands they follow.
Using social media as a customer service channel is also nothing new – many brands already take to Twitter and Facebook to deal with customer service requests. However, where this approach was once seen as something of a novelty, it is becoming increasingly expected by customers. What makes this approach to customer service so appealing? It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s efficient – customers can seek customer service without dedicating time to sitting on the phone, and often will use social media when other channels such as phone support are not available. Many customers also feel that the high visibility of their requests makes brands more likely to not only respond, but respond favorably.
In the future, we predict we’ll be seeing a growing push towards social media-based customer service, especially in the form of proactive assistance. We expect to see a rise in brands reaching out to customers who are expressing their dissatisfaction online, even if the complaints don’t directly request the brand’s help. After all, what better way to establish confidence and a sense of personal service than to reach out and offer help before it is even requested?
Hone those social media marketing skills
It may be a safe prediction, but it’s an important one: social media will continue to gain significance in the coming months and years, and any brand that wants to gain and retain a competitive edge needs to understand how people are using social media and how to use it to strengthen their marketing efforts. If you have questions about how you can leverage social media in new ways, give us a call. Our social media marketing experts will be happy to evaluate your needs and help develop a strategy that puts you on the cutting edge.
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