Once started as the platform to connect & interact with people, social media has come a long way to become a leading online marketing channel today. By its very nature, social media is able to create better engagement than any other online marketing channel for marketers. And as a marketing channel, it continues to introduce new, innovative marketing practices, which wouldn’t have been possible with traditional online marketing channels.
Every new social media marketing practice:
- gives marketers one more way to connect with their target audience,
- shapes consumer behavior by influencing how they expect brands to interact with them; thus,
- alters the digital marketing landscape, in the process
This post covers such innovative social media marketing practices that are transforming the way marketing is done in the digital world, and how businesses can make the most of them.
With the sheer amount of content being continuously made available on social media (and on every other digital platform, for that matter), the attention span of users is declining rapidly. Amid such settings, ephemeral content – which is short & temporary – makes perfect sense.
Snapchat pioneered the concept of ephemeral content through its Stories features. Given its effectiveness, Facebook also implemented the feature across all its social media & messaging apps - Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.
Today, ephemeral content offers the best engagement rate. Available for a short span, it naturally creates urgency in users to check it out before it disappears. In a digital marketing ecosystem, where old, long blog posts are considered as the most valuable brand assets, ephemeral content has emerged as a disruptive digital marketing practice.
Example: Michael Kros, NYC-based fashion wear and accessories designer, strategically used the urgency of ephemeral content. The latest collection of Michael Kros sunglasses was released as a lens on Snapchat, so people could try on the sunglasses, see how it looks on them and also send it to friends for feedback. The lens was available on Snapchat for only one day, which created huge engagement among users, thousands of whom tried it on and actually bought the pair, while it was still online.
The mobile revolution is already upon us, and there’s no doubting the fact that it is mostly driven by social media.
For the last year, Instagram & Snapchat have emerged as the new popular social media marketing channels among marketers. Both of them are mobile specific platforms; thus, they are implicitly making marketers adopt a mobile-first social media marketing strategy.
Besides that, as of February 2017, Facebook’s mobile monthly active user base reached 1.74 billion. Last month, Google also announced that 60% of YouTube watching is happening on mobile. Apart from that, Facebook’s revenue share is also a big proof that mobile is the most happening place in the current digital dynamics.
Additionally, social media platforms are offering vast data-collection opportunities to help brands formulate highly-targeted marketing strategies. Targeted marketing is important for consumers in current dynamics as they expect personalized and tailored experience.
All in all, the mobile-centric advancements in the social media arena are pressing marketers to go mobile first in their digital marketing endeavors.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Besides ephemeral content, it’s the Snapchat’s filters that triggered the platform’s quick success. Powered by Augmented Reality, facial filters, geo-filters, branded filters, etc., they take the engagement to a whole new level.
Inspired by the huge success of Snapchat’s AR lenses, Facebook also announced a wide array of AR features for its social & messaging apps during the F8 Facebook Developer Conference in April 2017. These AR features included frames, masks, and most importantly, bringing constant AR experiences through the camera embedded in all Facebook’s apps.
AR filters are already redefining the way how brands approach target customers with their products in the digital world. See for yourself in the example below:
Example: Shopping online is convenient but customers often do not hit the buy button as they fear how the product will actually look when it arrives. To curb this problem, L’Oreal promoted their infallible lipstick through Snapchat lenses. The lens applied lipstick to the customers’ video which flipped through a handful of colors. This gave customers a clearer idea which lipstick in the latest collection would suit them.
Brands who are making the most of their social media presence are the ones that are also dipping their toes in the live streaming pool. The trend was started by Facebook Live feature and was quickly adopted by all the other social networks.
Basically, it allows you to capture & broadcast something in real-time among their followers. For users, it is a fun feature to share their experiences with friends; but for brands, it is a helpful tool that gives them an easy way to broadcast clips of their events, product development, behind the scenes, etc.
Traditionally, only tech giants like Google, Facebook, Apple, etc. have broadcasted their events live through dedicated streaming channels. But now with social media’s live feature, every business has the ability to share glimpses of their events in real-time, in an easy and effective manner.
During the short span of its existence, live feature has been proven to be most effective in spreading brand awareness & create engagement and is becoming a vital addition for many businesses when streamlining a social media routine. Here is how Dunkin’ Donuts leveraged this feature:
Example: Dunkin Donut took advantage of the fact that it is hard to resist a donut or a coffee when you see it. Their live video explored their test kitchen for viewers, demonstrating how they created new products; the finale of the feed involved the creation of gigantic wedding themed cake. The streaming attracted many viewers who gave their opinion and reviews about the kitchen and demonstration – and later, ordered too.
In a November 2014 interview, Mark Zuckerberg said,
Messaging is one of the things that people do more than social networking.
And today, it is evident in the fact that among the top 5 social networks in the world, 3 are messaging apps.
Brands are leaving no stone unturned to personalize the customer experience. Social messaging apps, which are essentially based on one-on-one interaction, bring in that personalization by default.
Besides that, private chatting sessions of messaging apps offer more trust & shareability. And brands have already begun to leverage upon these qualities of social messaging apps, as described in this example:
Example: Trinket House is an accessories brand that uploaded pictures of their product on WhatsApp stories, which can be viewed by all the people that have added the brand's number in their contact list. Simply by clicking “Reply” icon on the picture, users can ask the price, specification and place the order directly through WhatsApp.
It is apparent from the example above how easy it is to provide a personalized experience to customers through messaging apps; something which takes a huge amount of time & brainstorming, if done through traditional online marketing channels.
As the need to provide customers a more enhanced personalized experience will continue to grow among marketers, social media will continue to evolve as a marketing channel. In time to come, we will see many new innovative social media marketing features that will further alter the shape of the digital marketing landscape – making it more engaging and personalized; thus, helping businesses in building better relationships with their customers.
For businesses, it is important to keep an eye on these changes that social media’s evolution is bringing to the digital marketing ecosystem and be quick about adopting them to upgrade their marketing game in order to reach wider, engage better, and convert more.