Social media is not a FAD anymore; it is a strategy that no brand can afford to ignore. It is the FUTURE.
Over 2011–16, Indian digital media is expected to grow at 31 percent CAGR, whereas print at only about 11 percent. The CAGR just reinstates the growing popularity of digital media platforms. The year 2014 is going to see an upsurge in activities and competition as new brands come online to grab attention and the existing ones get more aggressive. Not everything connects with the youth and trends online so brands need to have a clear understanding of each platform and the interests of their consumers.Taking this into account, what is going to trend socially among the youth in 2014 and beyond?
Content will be king
This definitely forms the core of a digital strategy. If the youth don’t connect with your content, they will not engage with you. Period. Be quirky, fun, exciting and enjoyable; you should be able to shine! The more visual the content the better it is, since now is the generation of photos, emojis and videos.
Globally more visual platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat are gaining popularity. Pictures do speak a thousand words after all. So, have you ‘selfied’ your brand as yet?
Yes, this seems to be the latest strategy. Haven’t you noticed Google, Tanishq and Budweiser already trend by adopting this? Emotions and rationality seem to connect with the youth now.
Don’t neglect mobile
If numbers are anything to go by, smartphones are now where youth spend most of their time. Facebook’s US$ 19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp is not as crazy as it seems. As of October 2013, 110 million users accessed internet on mobile in India, and more than 50 percent of these lie in the age group of 18–24 years. By June 2014, this number is expected to rise to 185 million.
Integrate and rule
No one platform is enough. If you want to rule the mind of the consumers, you need to mark your presence everywhere and integrate your marketing strategies across both online and offline platforms. Brand awareness is directly proportional to the product of number of platforms and activeness on each of them.
Less but better
Do not bombard your target group with updates. The youth prefer clean, simple and uncluttered message practices. Strike out and strike right.
6 or 60?
Whether it is a 6-second Vine clip or a 60-second one, or more YouTube video, they offer the fastest means of going viral. Videos are a must-have for your online marketing strategy. After all, 70 percent of Indian internet users watch online videos.
Now, coming to the various avenues of marketing that social media offers. Each platform demands a ‘No one size fits all’ strategy. On Twitter, you have to be creative with words whereas on Instagram, you need to be creative with pictures.The top social network platforms in India are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn – these need no comprehensive introduction.
The sheer strength of the audience at this platform and the ‘everyone’s on it’ rule makes it a MUST platform for a brand to be on.
The very nature of this platform makes it difficult to attract followers without active updates and contests. The strategy is simple – to draw draw people who are followed by a crowd. For instance, @MissMalini for the fashion circle.
This remains a B2B oriented platform with more consulting jargons than youth-related engagement for consumer brands. Nevertheless, Van Heusen is one brand that utilised the platform to its benefit by hosting a competition for fashionable professionals.
It does not take too long to build an audience here and get viral. In a very shortspan of time, ‘Google Reunion’ ad was able to attract a million views. The
online video audience in India grew an astounding 27 percent over 2012–13 and YouTube continues to be the top video property with more than 55 percent share. And, to the advantage of brands, youth form over 50 percent of the audience here. Let’s have a look at the relatively newer and faster growing platforms, which are slowly catching up in India. These, as discussed in the trends above, are more visual and mobile
Instagram is one of the fastest growing social platforms. Launched as a photo sharing space, it rolled out display advertisements in November 2013. Instagram recently bagged a US$ 40 million deal with Omnicom, a global advertising group with big brands such as Pepsi and Nissan as its clients. Nike and Starbucks are the most popular brands on this platform, so do research on them while designing your Instagram strategy.
With a largely female audience globally, this platform is still in its nascent stage in India. It offers a visual way of displaying your products by categorising them into different boards. It also runs many boards by brand enthusiasts. If you are looking for a modern gallery for your products that directly links them to your website or e-commerce portal then Pinterest is the one platform for you.
The short 6-second video trend is catching up like wildfire with the youth. You don’t need any technical skills to master this platform. All that you need is just some creativity and fun element.
This was used to give live updates during Lakmé fashion week last year. A property of Twitter, the largest age group of Vines is 18–20 years. Going forward, this forms an integral part of your video marketing strategy. This was an account of some of the biggest platforms for social media in India. The social landscape though is vast and not limited to these. As the youth start spending more time on their smart phones, the focus will be to engage them more on mobile applications.
Instant messaging networks and other personalised mobile apps are going to be the next big thing to engage with the youth. WeChat already offers a plethora of marketing avenues to brands, and WhatsApp might soon join this marketing bandwagon. Thus, to remain relevant, brands need to be quick and adapt to changes along with the youth.