Future Trends of Emerging Media

As this course draws to an end, I thought I’d take a look at what companies are monitoring on the horizon, and what trends will continue into 2016 and beyond.

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First and foremost, companies will need to ensure that they are continuing to develop quality content. This type of content aims to provide information to current customers and potential prospects in order to build trust, develop the brand, and ensure that a company’s brand is seen as an expert in the subject matter.

Companies will need to be ready for in-the-moment updates on social media. Some companies are already getting on board with this, through the use of Instagram and Snapchat. The recent acquisition of Periscope by Twitter is also promoting live updates via video broadcasting. If this trend does take off, companies will need to be prepared for instant social media posts, rather than scheduled posts.

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Another trend that is slowly emerging is the use of “buy buttons”.   Facebook and Pinterest are starting to introduce this option for consumers, which allows users of these social media sites to use one click to purchase a product they like, without ever leaving the app. It is estimated that by the end of 2016, most major social media brands will feature some kind of buy button naturally as an element of their advertising campaigns.

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Lastly, companies must continue to monitor and evolve privacy controls. User privacy concerns are extremely high, especially with large security breaches at Home Depot and Target. Users will demand a more private, secure method of communication and engagement, as well as notifications from companies when they are tracking consumers. Companies will be forced to be more clear on how they share consumer data, as well as what information is being shared.

#hashtag

#BagsFlyFree.  #HaveABreak.  What does it mean?!  What is the benefit of using hashtags for companies?  How does this help in terms of marketing?  The two previously mentioned hashtag examples are from Southwest Airlines and KitKat, respectively.

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First of all, what are hashtags?  I am a late adopter to Twitter, and I’ll admit I’m still trying to figure it all out.  According to #hashtags.org, these are generally described as issues or topics on social media sites, primarily Twitter.  Hashtags make conversations and topics easier to locate, as these will be arranged categorically.  Companies can utilize hashtags to introduce a new product, launch a new campaign, or spread the word about an upcoming event.  Companies do need to understand, however, how to strategically implement hashtags.

In a blog post posted on wishpond, there are three key marketing strategies for hashtags:

  • Brand & Campaign hashtags
  • Trending hashtags
  • Content hashtags

Brand and campaign hashtags are tags made for a specific business.  These are used to market brands and promotions. Examples of brand hashtags would be #SouthwestAir or #CocaCola.  KitKat’s use of #HaveABreak is the company’s tag line, as is Ford’s #BuiltFordTough.  Consumers can share pictures like the ones below using the hashtags KitKat has created.

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Trending hashtags are those tags that become very popular, and can change quickly.  Companies can use these trending hashtags to engage in conversations if they see something that pertains to their business.  The best example of this is Oreo, who capitalized on the Super Bowl blackout several years ago by tweeting almost immediately during the blackout.  Oreo used the trending hashtags of #SuperBowl #blackout, and created the following tweet which was highly successful.

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Content hashtags are those used in posts, although they aren’t branded and aren’t used to define a company’s business and marketing.  These hashtags are used to improve a company’s ‘Search Engine Optimization’ or SEO, which is how a company is ranked in the results via Google or another search engine.  Southwest’s use of #BagsFlyFree would be an example of this.

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This is just a brief overview of various types of hashtags, and how companies can use these to engage with customers.

And lastly, this video courtesy of NBC’s ‘The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon’:

Generational App Gap

In a previous post, I discussed the overall use of apps and the varying number of apps various ethnic groups are using.  I received a comment about how interesting it would be to look further into which apps various generations are using, so I’ll be examining that, as well as the overall difference in social media with these generations.

First of all, in looking at how different generations use social media as a whole, 81% of teenagers and 72% of adults use social media.  Out of these users, 94% of teens are on Facebook, with 67% of adults using Facebook.  From there, teens are more prone to use Twitter, with adults using Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr more frequently.  The following graphic from this article summarizes these findings.

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While examining the apps these generations are using, this article states “mobile apps are now the most popular form of computing in the United States, period – more time is spend tapping away at screens than typing on desktop computers”. Looking further into the break out of apps by generational groups, young adults ages 18-24 are more likely to use Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube.  As the groups of adults age, most still utilize Facebook, but also use more of Pinterest and Skype (ages 25-34), Candy Crush Saga (ages 35-54), and Solitaire (ages 55+).  The following charts show the top 10 apps with the varying age groups.

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The best part of this article is that Baby Boomers (those who are older than 55) are using their smartphones to play Solitaire and Words With Friends!!  Which apps do you spend most of your time using?  Do you think these graphics and charts are a true representation?

Enchanted Objects: How Enchanted are We?

What if your fork told you when you were eating too fast?  What if your umbrella lit up at the handle if rain was in the forecast? Or what if you could play with your pet – when you’re not even home???  These are all possibilities, especially today with what items called “enchanted objects”.  “The idea of an enchanted object really starts with something that’s ordinary.  You start with something that’s familiar, and you’re adding a new sensor or display or feature.”

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Various companies have already created feature-packed gadgets – Google Glass and the Apple watch are a few examples – but some say these companies are not quite hitting the mark.  Instead of trying to simplify everything via screens and smartphones, one entrepreneur, David Rose is trying to take older infrastructure (i.e., locks or thermostats) and connect them and make them simpler to use.  In the case of the umbrella, it is connected with Accuweather, and the handle will glow if there is rain in the forecast in the upcoming 12 hours.  CleverPet allows owners to keep their pets entertained while owners are gone through the use of various games and rewards with treats. Owners have the ability to see progress of their pets during the day, turn the system on or off, and find out just exactly what their dogs do best. Rose believes that these enchanted objects should interact with people in ways that make the user feel it is natural and intuitive.

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With these enchanted objects come new opportunities and obstacles for companies.  The marketing opportunities for companies will increase significantly, and will allow companies to better target advertising efforts, based on data feedback. According to this article, companies will also be able to develop deeper relationships with consumers.  The connectivity of products will allow companies to gain more insight on how their products are being utilized, which can influence design and development.

On the other hand, companies will also be forced to deal with increased security concerns.  Companies will be able to amass large amounts of data on clients, and will be tasked with balancing privacy while still trying to promote products.  What legal ramifications could come from these enchanted objects?  Do we really want to be connected to everything, all the time?  Does increased connectivity mean we have to compromise our privacy?

Sifting through the world of mobile apps!

How many apps do YOU have on your phone? Fifteen? Fifty? Over a hundred??? If you’re like me, you probably have several pages of apps, and even a few folders to attempt at organizing these!!! Millions of apps are now available, so the question becomes, how many apps are we using, and how do companies stand out in this madness?

The following graphic was created by Statista , and shows the average number of paid and free apps various countries have downloaded.

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According to a recent Nielsen analysis, U.S. smartphone users accessed 26.7 apps per month in 2014 fourth quarter, and that number has remained relatively flat over the last two years. Also, this analysis looked at the monthly time spent on these apps – consumer usage rose from around 23 hours in fourth-quarter 2012 to over 37 hours in fourth-quarter 2014 – a 63% increase!!! Marketers can benefit greatly from user involvement, if their particular app is chosen.

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The Nielsen report also took a look at the usage among various ethnic groups, and the results are quite surprising. African Americans use the most apps per month (30.3), and are also spending the most time per month on these apps (43 hours). The following table summarizes several other ethnic groups and their usage.

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Companies are using these mobile apps to expand the reach of their market and create revenue. Some of these companies offer in-app advertising, while others offer their apps for an initial cost in the app store. What do you think is the best way for companies to create revenue? Should they offer the app for a fee, or try to gain revenue via in-app advertising and risk irritating users with pop-ups or banner ads?

I LOVE/ HATE FACEBOOK!!!

Hang on, I need to check in. I need to post this picture. Ok, now I need to see what comments I’m getting. How many likes do I have?? These are just a few statements most of us probably make on a daily basis when it comes to social media, and our need to stay in touch. According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of internet users are on Facebook, with 45% of those users engaging the site multiple times a day. Other social media sites such as LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter are also seeing an increase in overall usage.

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Source: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/social-media-update-2014/

Clearly, internet users today are plugged into social media sites more than ever. Facebook and other sites are providing people (including myself) the much-needed escape from work. I will flip through Facebook numerous times a day, when I need to clear my head or shift my focus away from work for a minute or two.

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A new study from UCLA suggests that this desire for a mental break is actually our brain craving social interaction.

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I wonder if this need for social interaction turns our love for social media into more of a love/ hate relationship? We love the communication the channels allow, but we never truly disconnect. How much is too much? When do we need to do a digital detox???

How Much is Too Much?

This week I wanted to discuss the potential ethical issues with social media, especially in light of last week’s horrific shooting on live TV of two WDBJ7 employees. I used to live in Roanoke, VA, and personally have friends who worked with those two individuals. I was shocked at the tragic events, to say the least, but became mortified when I realized the shooting was being shared via social media. I will admit that I watched it – I think curiosity is part of human nature – but I never once dreamed of sharing it on Facebook or Twitter. To make matters worse, the fact that the shooter then shared his own video on social media sickened me. Social media had at that point become a platform for a murderer to share it to millions of people, and sensationalize it.

Shortly after this tragedy, many expressed concern over how to effectively police social media sites and protect users from such graphic images. CBS News posted an article discussing this ethical concern with social media. According to Facebook’s standards, the “Criminal Activity” section states “We also prohibit you from celebrating any crimes you’ve committed.”  Their standards further state that when users share content “for sadistic pleasure or to celebrate or glorify violence,” it will be removed. Ultimately, Facebook is relying on users as the first line of defense in situations such as this.

Twitter also states in their media policies  “We do not mediate content. All content should be marked appropriately as per our guidelines. You may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities. … Uploaded media that is reported and that is determined to violate the law will be removed from the site and your account will be suspended.”

In light of this terrible tragedy, and others in recent news, the question becomes, “How do we balance the desire for current events to being inundated with graphic images?” Many Facebook and other social media users have taken the direction to instead flood the social media sites with pictures, stories, and videos of the victims, as a way to honor them. Putting focus on the victims showcased how society came together during such a horrible time. The hashtag, #WeStandWithWDBJ, has quickly allowed people all across the country to show their support. WDBJ reporter, Leo Hirsbrunner, shared the following images on his Facebook page.

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The social media support has been tremendous, and luckily is overshadowing the ugly side of social media.

Successful Ethnic Marketing

This week I had the opportunity to investigate companies who have successful websites geared toward ethnic groups.   I also had the opportunity to see multiple companies who are severely lacking in that area. This week I wanted to examine a two popular cosmetic companies who are very different in their approach to marketing to ethnic groups.

The first company is L’Oreal Paris, which has started to court the Hispanic market with more shades and products for Latina women. The company has used spokeswomen such as Eva Mendez, Penelope Cruz, and Zoe Saldana to market to this large target audience. Zoe Saldana spoke on being a spokesperson for the brand, stating to Latina.com, “As a L’Oreal Paris spokesperson, being able to say ‘We’re worth it’ means so much to me. I want to share that value with women so they can embrace it and execute life with confidence. I am thrilled to join this beauty journey with such an inspirational brand”.  The following images are from L’Oreal Paris’ website.

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L’Oreal also has a video on the website with Jennifer Lopez discussing her “true match”, which is her true foundation match to her skin tone. The brand has 33 shades, from light to dark, and from warm to neutral to cool, allowing every woman to find her “true match”.

According to an article in Hispanic Business Magazine, it is predicted by the year 2050, one quarter of women in the U.S. will be Hispanic. With this estimation, and their economic power, Latinas represent a very lucrative market for the beauty business.  Marketers have become very interested in Hispanics because they now have considerable spending power, estimated at $1.5 trillion in 2015. In fact, the Hispanic population will represent 19% of the total U.S. population by 2020.

In contrast, Cover Girl has a very small, very mediocre website for Hispanics and other women of color. Although the company has utilized spokeswomen such as Rihanna, Tyra Banks, and Queen Latifah, the site itself is very underwhelming, and not inviting at all. The following is a screen shot from Cover Girl’s website of the entire section dedicated to women of color.

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Paula Patton, also a Cover Girl spokeswoman, loves to wear the products, and her face was the talk of the town immediately after the 2012 Golden Globes. Her makeup artist talked about using the Cover Girl Queen Collection products on Paula, and when asked about rules for women of color, she said, “I don’t like to follow rules. It’s all about having fun. Play with different color on the eye or try a nice bright lip. But when it comes to foundation, I recommend having a least two different colors to create some depth. And keep shine to a minimum by using oil-free products.” The makeup artist continued to rave about the Cover Girl line of products for women of color.

It’s unfortunate that Cover Girl isn’t capitalizing on this press any more than they are, especially considering the large size of this demographic. With such powerful spokeswomen, the company would benefit from more online and mass media advertising.

What is all the fuss about?

Emerging media consists of “communications – of all types – based on digital technologies and increasingly with interactive components”. The American Journal of Business uses this description, and quotes Marketers are changing the way they advertise to consumers based on the ever-increasing use of social media and the Internet. As recent as ten years ago, companies could utilize the traditional mass media outlets such as television, print, and radio to reach the large population of consumers. Based on the article on Digital Trends, Facebook’s introduction in 2007 began the online advertising craze. Today, marketers must be more in tune to what each segment of the population is focused on, and tailor their advertising to each individual interest.

Take for example Instagram. Four years ago, marketers would never dream of advertising their products on the social media site.

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Source: http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/24/the-rise-of-instagram-tracking-the-apps-spread-worldwide/

Now, companies pay to have a “sponsored” advertisement pop up in an individual’s feed.

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According to Matthew Knell, VP of Social & Community at About.com, “to be effective for brands, these ads need to be more personal than a typical display ad and brands that don’t understand that will miss the opportunity. Repurposing content from other video and display campaigns shouldn’t be an option here.” The link for the entire article on Instagram’s use of sponsored ads can be found here.

I personally truly enjoy the personalization that is evolving in marketing today. I figure, if I’m going to have to watch an advertisement, at least I would like to watch one that actually interests me. Seeing a commercial for something that involves parenting would be of no interest or benefit to me, whereas a commercial for some sort of new travel destination would greatly interest me. The Internet can be scary with the amount of data it can store about an individual, but overall I prefer to have that information used to my benefit.