With new applications launching daily and
"experts" promoting the next big thing in social media marketing, it is a fast
changing and confusing industry for marketers. It doesn't need to be
complicated, but it is important for marketers to think about the larger
communication trends that these applications belong to and then decide if the
trends are relevant enough to test in their marketing strategy. Many of the
"hot" new social media applications can be placed into one of four emerging
4 Social Media
Marketing Trends Deconstructed
Have you heard of Groupon? It is the market
leader for an emerging type on online commerce called collective buying.
Groupon and its competitor's partner with businesses to offer members a product
or service at a major discount (40% off or more). So what is the catch?
Customers aren't promised the deal unless a certain number of people agree to
buy the product or service for that price. Groupon is essentially
providing businesses with the opportunity to acquire a guaranteed sized group
of customers. For example, a spa service that might normally cost $100 would be
available to Groupon members for $40, as long as 1,000 people agreed to buy the
service for that price.
These collective buying deals are normally offered
once per day in a specific geographic market. Groupon has quickly expanded into
major and mid-sized markets across the United States.
Collective buying is less about selling products and more about expanding reach
and awareness. Groupon and its competitors have growing email databases that
can be hugely valuable to marketers. When deciding if collective buying is
right for your business, consider scale. If 1,000 people bought your product
and service tomorrow, would most of them love it? If not, it is likely
important to work on product improvements. Your product and customer service
needs to be able to scale to a burst of new customers to make collective buying
Where are you, and what are you doing there?
These are the questions that popular location-based companies like Foursquare,
Gowalla, Loopt and others are trying to determine. These location-based
services let you share the places you visit with friends via checkins. When a
location-based user checks into a service, he or she uses a cell phone with a
GPS to share the location with friends. Location-based services are still
very new; the market leader, Foursquare only has about 2 million users, though
it is growing at a rapid rate. Proponents of location-based services describe
them as a way to bring together offline and online connections. Businesses like
Starbucks have begun to launch campaigns based on these location based services
to offer special discounts to people who check-in at a location.
Location-based services often function as a
publicly facing loyalty program for businesses. Instead of scanning a loyalty
card at a cash register, users check into a store and tell all of their friends
they are there.
Location is an important layer of data in our growing online marketing machines.
However, it is unclear if location merits a stand-alone application or will
eventually become a feature of many different types of social web applications.
Additionally, privacy concerns about sharing location data may impact the rate
of adoption for these services, especially with demographics that are sensitive
to sharing that type of information.
If you are a marketer for a retail business, then
location-based services and features are something you should be investigating.
Look for other businesses who have used these services successfully. For
other businesses, it is important to understand the implications of
location-based applications, but the industry is still too young for more
complex B2B and non-retail marketing opportunities.
Few start-up web applications have come from seemingly
thin air to create as much buzz as Flipboard, the new social magazine
application for Apple's iPad. This application and others like Pulse take
information from news sources and social networks like Twitter and Facebook and
display them in the form of a digital magazine, instead of boring lists of
headlines like most RSS readers.
We recently wrote an entire article about the marketing implications of social
magazines, and I recommend you give it a read if you are interested in this
topic. For marketers, social magazines serve as a blaring reminder that
everyone is now a publisher and that prospective customers have more sources of
information available to them than ever before. Whether it is in the form of a
social magazine or something else, it is our job as marketers to become great
publishers and to deliver our content in the preferred consumption format of
our prospective customers.
Social gaming is flying under the radar of most
marketers. This rapidly growing online entertainment industry is huge and
getting even bigger. More than 100
million people will play social games like Mafia Wars and Farmville this year.
Social games will generate more than 1 billion dollars in revenue. Many social
games started as applications within social networks like Facebook but are
quickly expanding to become their own stand-alone applications.
Disney recently acquired social game company Playdom for $763.2 million. The
social gaming space is only getting hotter. As a marketer, social gaming
illustrates that time spent online is not solely limited to checking email and
reading news. As entertainment habits change, more traditional categories of
entertainment, and subsequently marketing, are happening online. What does your
business need to do to position its marketing strategy accordingly?
a Marketing Innovator
These trends may not apply to your marketing
strategy today, but it is important to devote a little time to understand them.
By understanding these trends, you can enhance how you plan and improve
marketing strategies in the future. Once you have determined that you can
successfully leverage one of these social media marketing trends in your
marketing plan, don't delay in implementing it.
Don't wait for another company in your industry
to do it first. The online market rewards businesses that make the first move.
One of these trends could be an opportunity to innovate your marketing strategy
and take your business to the next level.