#trendMARK: IM platforms and social networks will blur together in future
a trendMARK feature by Mike Wronski (@mikewronski) The marketing industry is being disrupted faster than most as old paradigms of branding, PR and communications change to reflect the empowerment — and constant connection — of consumers via digital channels. People have access to any information they want, when they want it and on whatever device they want it. This has created a highly fragmented landscape that can be confusing for marketers who aren’t versed in technology trends.
Cited as a high priority gap for brands to capitalise on in the 2014 Social Landscape study by World Wide Worx, engaging video content should be part of any large brand’ s marketing arsenal. With data costs plummeting and mobile video usage on a sharp incline, a gap exists for brands to create original content where a large deficit currently exists locally.
Currently the best performing local video content produced by brands is related to experiences that customers care about, including music festivals, cooking classes and celebrity content. One trend is certain– brands are going to create much more branded video content in2014, and they will allocate larger budgets to ensuring the content is professionally storyboarded, produced and edited.
Continuing the strong trend of branded mobile and social apps in 2013, brands will keep creating immersive mobile experiences around highly niche topics and events. DStv’s Remote app, FNB’ s Find Steve Facebook App, or Castle Lager ’s Braai Nation app are some interesting examples of apps that provide a niche utility value, or have high quality entertaining experiences.
A solid 67% of brands surveyed in the SA social landscape report plan to create mobile apps in 2014. The key to unlocking an app’s success is not only in its utility or entertainment value, but how well the brand connects the app back to its fundamental business proposition.
Online advertising budgets will continue to increase, with a larger portion allocated to social media advertising and content marketing. This follows an international trend, where social media advertising is the largest growing digital adspend category – 47% of US brands plan on increasing social advertising budgets in 2014.
Thousands of brands are vying for the attention of consumers who are content rich, but time poor. The brands that get content marketing right will be those that create engaging content and digital brand engagements that linger with consumers long after they’ve experienced the content. This trend will see brands investing in social data analytics to understand what content their consumers want. Smart brands will train their staff to become brand ambassadors — even to the point of hiring journalists and content experts in-house.
With over 11-million active WhatsApp users in South Africa, instant messaging has surpassed social network usage. This is because people want a simple, cost effective and quick way of connecting with friends,but also due to people wanting greater control over privacy and content visibility.
Instant messaging platforms and social networks will blur together in future, but for now there is a fairly clear separation of functionality between the WhatsApps, 2gos and WeChats; as well as the Twitters and Facebooks of the world. Brands will try to engage more effectively on these IM platforms – as is evidenced by the brands that own portals on MXit, which connects to consumers on the Naspers-owned IM platform WeChat. Whether consumers will accept brands into this private space remains to be seen.
As consumers’ lives become more intertwined in the digital space, exponentially more data will be collected about their personalities,whereabouts, connections, interests, discussions, transactions and everything in between. This data can paint detailed pictures for brands about who their customers are and what they want. It also allows marketers to connect and engage with consumers in optimal ways. However, collection and retention of consumer data often operates in a large grey area amidst privacy laws such as the Protection of Personal Information Bill and the CPA.
These grey areas will almost definitely be challenged at some point as consumers become more educated about the need for consumer privacy and start pushing back against certain data collection practices. Brands that don’t play ball and comply will no tonly be penalised, but may have their reputations significantly impacted.
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