Emerging Trends in Online Social Media and how These Tools are Being Used in Marketing Communications
Marketing communications is one of the components of the marketing mix used to involve the customers into a conversation to establish relationships between a company and its consumers. Over the past few years, there has appeared a new imperative to develop Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) tools so that a company could reach consumers through the variety of channels available. Online social media marketing is the latest supplement tool to the company’s IMC instruments. Almost everybody on the Internet uses online social media solutions in different ways, either knowingly or not. In particular, to advertise, promote, and broadcast company’s products to the millions of online users. Used by a substantial amount of diverse companies, SMM solutions have become conventional way for advertisement of products and services. Since social media marketing (SMM) activity is currently happening, it is difficult to specify all emerging trends in online social media, but it is possible to concentrate on the major ones in order to build an effective communication strategy.
The trend number one in online social media is real-time marketing. This strategy presupposes companies reacting immediately through social media channels. Nowadays, more and more social media marketing platforms are operating through real-time channels. Furthermore, most of the real-time events on TV merge with social media marketing channels. Considering that, the marketers will have to add real-time marketing strategy to their marketing communications tools set. With the help of real-time marketing, companies can easily involve a wide coverage from all possible social media platforms such as Facebook, Vine, Twitter, Snapchat, Google+, etc. For instance, a year ago, NBC showed a live-show Sound of Music. During the broadcast, the audience published half a million of tweets, which made the show in the first place in trends Twitter and increased the coverage of the show. Most of the tweets were made via smartphones, which confirms the development of one more trend in SMM.
On today’s condition, the diffusion of the mobile communications into the world consist of 93% from the whole population of the world. Additionally, the share of mobile internet users is constantly growing. Therefore, the Internet and mobile telecommunications rapidly develop hand in hand, which leads to the conclusion that the mobile Internet does come first. Day by day, people buy more tablets and smartphones than notebooks and laptops. Consequently, mobile devices occupy more consumer time than TVs or personal computers. In this regard, the marketers are forced to create new communication strategies oriented towards mobile and tablets consumers.
For example, with the development of mobile Internet and GPS systems in smartphones, the marketers use geo-targeting tools to advertise their products. In the nearest future, this will finally allow to develop new Local Digital Marketing field. It means that the marketers will be able to engage the local audience from the desired city area into the cafes, hairdressers, or small shops. It is a dream of every small business. Instead of spreading flyers in mailboxes in doorways, the owners of the small businesses will be able to highlight the residents of the neighborhood and show them the ad of their product/service.
The next trend in the social media marketing is the development of content marketing. The sphere of content marketing is not new, but it does not stand still. Everyday more and more worthy social media platforms appear on the Internet. This gives the possibility to fix information about the brand in the minds of target customers. Content marketing is a progressively considerable tool in the marketing strategies of a growing number of companies. It is especially evident in SMM, since online social pages, groups, and accounts are the most important area for seeding content and its targeting. In 2012, many SMM experts emphasized that in the future, the content marketing would become more professional and more focused around the user, not around the product. Accordingly, the new system is now in demand and it shows the effectiveness of its distribution.
The effectiveness of communications through social media platforms is also an important trend that is worthy of attention. One should admit that on every social networking website, it is possible to find some link with a referral text that leads a customer to the product or service somehow. Researchers of the social networks have noticed long ago that the forms of communication constantly simplify. Firstly, there were such forms of communication as text, then post, then 140 characters tweet, now - pictures (or videos) with tags. This trend caught all major market players - from Facebook with its epic investment in Instagram to the updated Twitter. Vine and Snapchat are created exclusively for such amusements as pictures and video. Visual elements play an important role not only in themselves, but as part of a strategy of the product. According to recent researches, the posts with pictures get more likes, comments, and clicks (Maddocks, 2014). As a result, substantial amount of big, middle and small companies try to communicate with their target audience through the pictures and videos. For instance, in 2014, HP Company conducted an advertising campaign featuring the stars of the social video service Vine.
The marketers should also consider trends of certain major social media networks to make their online communication strategy more effective. According to the latest trends of Facebook, companies will have to pay more money to have the maximum number of users’ engagement of a certain post. This becomes a serious problem for businesses that use Facebook for marketing purposes. As demand for paid positions will grow it will change the pricing policy and higher prices for advertising.
There are also more projected trends in online social media marketing. Nevertheless, this paper highlighted the main ones. It is the usage of real-time media channels for the promotion of services and products. Also, it is orientation on mobile internet consumers. The usage of content marketing is an efficient tool in marketing communication plan in increasing of brand awareness in the minds of target customers. It is also important to pay special attention to the trends of concrete social media networks and communication trends in them.
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