A decade and a half back, saying the word ‘selfie’ in a social gathering would have gotten you bewildered looks from friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers alike. ‘Meme’ was something not many people knew the meaning of, while ‘viral’ was what you had when you were under the weather.
The situation today, however, is vastly different, thanks to the emergence of several popular social media platforms. By providing users with an outlet to communicate and engage with their peers in a novel manner, these platforms have flipped the concept of social interactions on its head.
But why is social media increasingly being considered as the perfect medium for marketers to connect brands with the mobile-first consumer? The answer to this question lies in an extremely fundamental difference between mobile-based social media platforms and other marketing channels, such as print/electronic media and banner advertisements.
Most of the traditional marketing media – such as TV, radio, and banner advertisements – do not offer brands with anytime, anywhere accessibility to their target audience that social media does through mobile devices. Social media on mobile phones also provides a level of engagement and two-way interaction which is unparalleled by any other medium.
This is why TV has already largely been replaced by smartphones as the first screen for entertainment consumption, while mobile applications are making other media formats, such as print and banner, increasingly redundant. Global social media marketing spends, as a result, have crossed $31 billion in 2016, with industry estimates expecting it to increase by 26.3% in 2017.
Where social media also scores over traditional channels is the mindshare it has within today’s rapidly growing mobile-first consumer base. Just analyse your own behaviour over the course of a normal day. What do you do when you click a good picture, or read an interesting article, or watch a funny video, or see a breaking news item? You share it with your peers through social media. When you’re stuck in traffic, do you check out billboards and banners around you?
Chances are that you instead browse through your social media feed to check what your friends have been up to. If you wake up in the middle of the night, do you turn on the TV or read a newspaper? No – you probably check your phone for any missed notifications, which is possibly what you do just after waking up and right before going to sleep as well. These commonplace examples are indicative of just how ingrained accessing social media through mobile devices has today become to our day-to-day functioning, and underline how it represents a rich and diverse area of opportunity for brands to connect with their audiences.
The extensive reach of social media is another factor that further establishes its position as the perfect medium to interact with the young, new-age, mobile-first consumer. Facebook alone is currently expected to reach more than 1.65 billion people on a monthly basis. Users spent an average of 17 minutes per session on the platform in March 2016; most of this traffic comes from its mobile platform.
The user traffic on other popular social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Snapchat, is also largely mobile-based. Engaging social media content is twice as likely to be shared by mobile users when compared to desktop website content. This is another factor that brands need to take into account while devising their social media marketing strategies.
What marketers must, therefore, look to do is to initiate one-on-one conversations with their audiences through purposeful posts and shareable content. Unique to social media platforms, this highly personalised mode of interaction allows brands to connect with users in a way that they never could before, and increases their ability to attract, engage, and retain customers. Identification and segmentation of user demographic also becomes easier through social media, and allows brands to deliver the right message to the right audience.
Social media is an extremely young phenomenon, with the mobile-first youth as its single largest consumer base. With interactive community-driven features such as likeability and shareability at its core, social media provides users with a heightened satisfaction and engagement quotient. It keeps them abreast with the latest developments from around the world, allowing them to expand their knowledge base and share valuable information with their social circles. Social media is also being leveraged by new-age users to enhance their social statuses, and has become a handy tool to connect and interact with brands, both to share appreciation and to register complaints.
Any social media communication, therefore, must be designed to appeal to this particular segment, with a particular focus on developing and implementing a responsive mechanism tailored to meet the requirements of the millennial population. Doing so can not only increase your brand’s market visibility and recall value, but also create purchase possibilities and ensure loyalties that will boost your long-term scale and success.