Social media has hit the big-time. #duh. Here’s what’s new: From the standpoint of technology and marketing sophistication, social media is maturing, despite its juvenile content on some networks. Social media is quickly becoming a tool for retaining preferred customers in addition to finding new customers. Social media marketing strategies are a necessity for business survival, not a luxury. And to top things off, SEO and social media are becoming progressively more integrated, with highly-shared links translating to highly-ranked searches. Individual networks are still jockeying for position (Foursquare is down, MySpace is back up, LinkedIn is still up, Facebook is down among youth, Twitter is up among youth), but the overall trend continues upward. What you can take from this is recognizing which social media works best with your target demographic.
Mobile computing has heated up quickly. Websites that are not currently optimized for mobile use are losing. Businesses that are launching their own mobile apps and services are winning. And, consumers are not just swapping PC’s for iPhones—they continue to use mobile devices for tasks they never asked their PC’s to do, paving the way for new marketing opportunities. These include the digital wallet (with new mobile loyalty programs), location-based point-of-decision communications (such as just-in-time delivery of incentives and coupons) and QR codes—a technology that has matured and raised expectations of creativity.
Content rules; visual content rules even more. The pressures to develop content better and faster have never been greater. And there’s a twist: visual content is killing text-based content. The hottest social media networks are those that focus on images and video, not just words; infographics are killing pure data. On websites, the need for creative, relevant content continues to grow with each Google Search Engine algorithm update.
Simpler is better. Overwhelmed by sensory input, consumers are opting for brands with easily-understood, simple messages. Trust, referral of friends and eagerness to engage a brand all increase dramatically as complexity declines.
Reputation Management is becoming a critical factor for businesses of every size. Even the tiniest, most obscure restaurant has numerous online reviews to support it or dump on it. Disgruntled customers’ formerly empty threats to discredit a business are now a serious issue with the strength of the online commentary phenomena. Managing those comments aggressively but diplomatically is today’s marketing first aid kit. In addition, Reputation Management is cross-branding its importance into all facets of online marketing, to include: website optimization, mapping and social networking.