The world of social media, digital marketing and technology moves extremely fast and from all indications is only set to increase in rapidly evolving and advancing. You only have to think about the changes that have happened in recent years to see how far this type of marketing has come and what kind of incredible opportunities it creates for brands both large and small.
In the space of around a decade social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram have arrived and countless others such as Snapchat, Pinterest, Google Plus and LinkedIn are also hugely popular. Overall these services are used by literally billions of people to communicate around the world. There are also other services that have dramatically altered the way people work, shop, travel and communicate such as AirBnb, Uber, Skype, Amazon, Netflix and YouTube.
All of these have arrived in approximately the last decade. These kind of changes are huge, but could be only the tip of the iceberg with further transformations on the horizon that will dramatically change the way humanity lives, much of which is driven by technology and the internet. This includes artificial intelligence and virtual reality which are set to become mainstream.
What all of this goes to prove, is that it is essential that your marketing team avoids complacency when it comes to creating success for your brand on social media, because nothing can be taken for granted, except that things will change. When companies take success for granted and don’t keep up with the times, then failure is a very real possibility. You only have to observe what has happened with what were some of the biggest brands in the world. These include Yahoo!, Kodak, Blackberry, Nokia and Myspace. At one time, each of these were global leaders in their respective industries, but each developed a hubris that lead those in charge and those marketing them to start to believe they were too big to fail. Obviously this wasn’t the case as each of these has either gone bankrupt, been bought or completely faded into obscurity.
It has been the companies that have been prepared to constantly innovate such as Apple and Facebook that have managed to survive against newer competitors, constantly updating their strategies and being quick to notice changing market trends, rather than resting on their success. This is why it is so important that your brand and marketing team keeps up to date with the latest social media marketing trends, because if not you could find your company completely left behind.
Airbnb is becoming increasingly ubiquitous in the travel and tourism industry and is disrupting it massively. It allows homeowners to market and rent out apartments, houses or individual rooms to travellers in a very flexible way via their website and app. It was founded back in 2008 and now has around 150 million users with 3 million listings across 191 countries. This represents incredible growth and has been fuelled in many ways by utilising the power of social media directly from the beginning. The company is highly active across all of its social media accounts with over 6.5 million page likes on Facebook, 2 million Instagram followers and 600 thousand Twitter followers.
What is astonishing is that even with all the evidence of how social media is helping startup brands grow into giant billion dollar companies like Airbnb and Uber and how established household names like Tommy Hilfiger, Microsoft, Hilton Hotels and other global giants are connecting with customers and increasing sales, there are still those sceptical of the power of social media marketing! To some companies within the travel and tourism industry, having a presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and posting a few uninspiring posts once or twice or week is seen as utilising social media effectively. On the flipside there are other brands within the travel industry like Airbnb, G-Adventures and Norwegian Airlines that truly innovating and seeing incredible results from their efforts.
A great recent example of a hotel company staying ahead of the curve and being willing to experiment with something new is Marriott Hotels with their original, unscripted series on Snapchat called “Six Days, Seven Nights” in which it toured influencers around the world to stay in Marriott hotels. Locations included Dubai, New York City and Berlin and included well known travel influencers from the digital world. This series showed a big brand’s willingness to experiment with a new social media platform ie. Snapchat and the mobile format on which Snapchat is based. It also included the use of the new Snapchat Spectacles; sunglasses with cameras built in which can record video of up to 10 second length. This offers a unique perspective of the hotels and locations via these influencers who were showcasing different experiences.
As you can tell just from this example, your social media marketing strategy does not have to merely be boring posts broadcasting your company message, directly trying to sell something. The brands that truly understand and use social media effectively see the huge potential and the nature of how to successfully connect with their customers. People are becoming sick of traditional adverts, but do not mind listening if a brand makes a genuine connection with them.
What may have seemed cutting edge at the start of social media such as having a Facebook page and Twitter profile and posting photos and text, will no longer make your brand stand out. Instead your marketing team should be constantly analysing all of the latest trends within social media to avoid missing out on this huge opportunity due to complacency. Unbelievably there are some brands within the travel market that are still not fully on-board with social media and see it as an afterthought. Instead they remain focused on traditional advertising such as billboards, printing leaflets and advertising within magazines, the television or radio. These means do not have to be fully abandoned yet, but the majority of your brands marketing focus should be on cutting edge digital marketing and social media campaigns.
Some trends that are hugely popular or are becoming so within social media are:
Video content: This is growing massively and there are some who suggest that within the next couple of years around 80% of internet traffic could be video based.
Influencer marketing: Many brands are turning to influencers to help market their products on social media as it offers a human touch making the advertising more relatable to consumers. It also makes the marketing more interesting and engaging such as the Marriott Hotels example.
Live video: It is now possible across the majority of major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to directly broadcast live video. This is an excellent feature to showcase excursions, events and moments in real time to encourage your connections to view right there and then.
Creating valuable digital content: While there is a place for content that disappears quickly there is also a huge importance for valuable digital content such as high quality blog posts and videos. These will be seen weeks, months and even years after being originally published creating huge long term value.
Ephemeral content: The flipside of this high quality content that lasts long term is disappearing content which was made famous by Snapchat, but is also building a huge traction on Instagram. These posts create a fear of missing out, leading your audience to view and interact with these ‘Stories’ before they disappear. The popularity of this type of content is growing massively as it shows a more raw and authentic style which especially younger viewers love.
Augmented reality: While virtual reality remains a fairly long way off from being mainstream and may never be adopted by the masses, augmented reality is becoming very popular. Again Snapchat is playing a big part in this, as augmented reality is being overlaid on the real world within the app. This creates many exciting possibilities for marketing which many brands have already picked up on with great success.
Ultimately it is down to your whole brand to embrace social media and the huge marketing potential that is offers, and then realise that you can not remain complacent. There have already been many social media brands like Myspace, Bebo and Friendster that have disappeared, but for the foreseeable future social media is only set to become increasingly popular. What is clear though is that it will continue to evolve which is what your marketing strategy and brand must also do.
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