Emerging Trends in the Digital Space

The Internet has brought about a sea change in the way forward-thinking companies do business today. The trends clearly point to digital marketing occupying prime slot among all forms of advertising; it is expected to leapfrog from the present Rs 840 crore to Rs 2,140 crore by 2013 (source: KMPG). Digital marketing includes user-generated content in blogs, videos and social networking sites, and lead to better brand perception, brand conversation and brand engagement.

Here are some of the leading emerging trends in the digital space:

1. Corporate social media presence: Zappos, the online clothes and shoes store, is miles ahead of the competition not only because of its excellent customer service, but also due to its effective use of social media. It has made the best use of Web 2.0 applications like Twitter to reach out to consumers and resolve their queries. As many as 435 Zappos employees have Twitter accounts so that they can contribute to building the company’s online reputation. In India, Kingfisher was the first airline in India to build a full-fledged formal presence on Twitter and embrace social media. This initiative has added to Kingfisher Airlines’ convenience factor because it allows the airline to send instant updates to its customers. Kingfisher Airlines is also putting the Twitter platform to good use to enhance its service, get feedback and interact with its customers directly without the use of intermediaries.

2. Cost control in advertising: Reaching out to consumers the traditional way through television or print is a costly proposition because a company has to pay a bomb to ad agencies for research, production and creative contributions. Social media is much cheaper and reaches the right target audience by leveraging ‘crowdsourcing’ to gauge market concepts quickly and effectively. It’s no surprise that Coca-Cola India launched its latest Sprite campaign online, giving TV a miss. Online reviews and referrals from social media and review sites are more effective and cheaper than ad campaigns.

3. Emphasis on real-time data: Sites that provide transactional data and news in real time will always be in demand. These include news sites, Google Blog Search for updated blog commentary, Marketwatch.com for US stocks and Moneycontrol.com (Indian stocks), Twitter.com for the latest news, and Twitter commentary. Given the unpredictable nature of markets, where even the biggest climbers can plummet to the depths the next day, no one can risk buying a share or a home without checking on its status in real time!

4. Distribution over creation: Before social media came on to the scene, mainstream media owned the content that it created (news, movies and music) and charged a high price for it. However, social media has brought about a transformation by producing content online and has brought its price down to zero. Content creators now look for bloggers — not necessarily their own journalists — who are the movers and shakers and thought leaders in the social media scene.

5. Aggregation of social media: The shift is now towards an online social media distribution system that aggregates social media to advertise requirements and wants. For instance, if I want to sell my bike, I will convey this fact once, say though Facebook, and have it distributed through numerous social networks with ‘want to buy a bike’ queries, particularly within a 40-mile radius. The match would connect two unrelated people with similar interests (the bike in this case) and establish viable and relevant social contacts between the two parties.

6. Emphasis on distributing content rather than on creating it: It’s the reach of content that matters more than ever now. The more the entities re-tweeting and re-blogging your content , the involvement of blog syndication services like Blogburst and more services like Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed in sharing your content, the more powerful will be your brand presence in the digital space.