Social media has evolved tremendously since it first emerged in the late 1990’s. Developments in IT have influenced the way consumers interact with marketing. Early on, corporations recognized the need to integrate social media into their marketing plan, and have since worked on identifying key themes.
In the early 2000’s, the internet was quickly identified as a means for individual expression. Marketers at this time thought the only importance of expression was how it influenced other customers’ shopping decisions. It wasn’t till after 2010, that marketers realized the benefit of self-expression also reflected onto the brand image. They recognized a second theme that the internet is a decision making tool. Marketers have more recently combined individual expression, and decision making. Contributors to word of mouth (WOM) will amplify or undermine what the marketer is attempting to accomplish. From this realization viral campaigns began to emerge as an important marketing strategy. This convergence has also influenced the growth of content marketing.
In the early life of social media it was also recognized as a marketing intelligence source. It can be used for observing, analyzing and predicting behaviors. Now, this idea still persists, yet it receives better results due to innovations in technology. Systems for collecting and sorting data have advanced tremendously.
Organizations at this point should take an integrated approach to every interaction in a customers experience with a brand. Organizations should attempt to stay away from seperating customer experience into separate silos, and should focus on long term interactions.
Emerging topics include the recognition of collaborative consumption. Marketers are taking a stride to work with consumers’ tendency to act in groups. Like in the early 2000’s, people are once again worried about their privacy. Advertisements that target consumers very well may be tied to privacy invasion in the minds of consumers.
Consider artificial intelligence as a means to enhance customer experience. AI can be used to gain stronger insight on consumer habits and feelings. A company can integrate artificial intelligence into their service by creating bots that communicate with consumers online. Companies can also deliver a new customer experience through AI technology. For example, Lowe’s Companies Inc. used AI to bring an interesting interface to customers through Microsoft Holo Lens. Upon visiting a Lowe’s store customers are able to use the Holo Lens to visualize a renovated kitchen based on customers posts about their favorite colors and textures via social media.
Social media has advanced the way a brand interacts with its consumers and vice versa. Marketing is a two way interaction now and must follow the emerging themes of social media.