Change is constant, and what is popular today is almost never in favor tomorrow. For example, not very long ago MySpace was an important social media destination, but in spite of recent facelifts and rebranding opportunities, it will never out-compete the giant that is Facebook. Google recently killed off Orkut after ten years to focus on YouTube, Blogger and Google+ (although one does have to wonder if Google+ will ever gather the traction Google hopes it will.)
It is almost impossible to predict which hot new tech tool or social media site will catch on and become the next “big thing,” providing new opportunities for marketers to reach audiences in unique ways. The large players (Facebook, Twitter, Google and LinkedIn) will almost certainly try and stay one step ahead, and in many cases acquire these challenger companies (as Facebook did with WhatsApp.) But as newer companies emerge and platforms begin to attract large audiences, it can open up fresh possibilities for us to include them in our marketing mix as a unique way to engage with customers. Here then are some marketing ideas featuring the next wave of social and tech platforms that you could begin to incorporate into your marketing plans today.
WhatsApp and WeChat
With over 500 million active users each month, WhatsApp messaging is becoming the defacto messaging tool between mobile users regardless of platform. WeChat is a Chinese based mobile text and voice service that has 300 million users (70 million residing outside of China.)
Content publishers are beginning to focus efforts on WhatsApp by offering a sharing button to allow audiences to share content on the private WhatsApp messaging system. Buzzfeed is one company that has seen initial success with this model.
In contrast, WeChat already offers Facebook-like profile pages, photo sharing and other features. Companies are able to set up WeChat accounts and accumulate followers, similar to Twitter. WeChat is also experimenting with offering advertising based upon user targeting.
Although it generates no revenue, Snapchat estimates its user base receives and sends 400 million photos and video snaps each day. Many have speculated about what kind of business model Snapchat will eventually adopt, especially after refusing a $3 billion cash buyout from Facebook. Potential opportunities for marketers could include “exploding coupons,” an image that gives information about a deal or discount that expires after a set amount of time. “Sponsored snaps” or Snapchat Stories could allow marketers to provide a sneak peek at a product or opportunity and also allow users to save photos or videos for 24 hours and connect them to an overarching narrative. Taco Bell is one company that has experimented with Snapchat as a marketing tool to considerable success.
Tumblr is a micro blogging network owned by Yahoo and powered by an army of independent creators featuring 190 million blogs and 300 million unique visitors.
Currently comprised of a very young audience, Tumblr feels like a mash-up of Twitter, Instagram and the original MySpace, where users blog short forms of content, visual and multimedia imagery and ongoing sharing and favoring of posts. Unfortunately one consideration facing companies considering Tumblr as a platform is that it is also home to considerable pornographic material. However many businesses are realizing significant success publishing content on Tumblr. At LEWIS Pulse, we have helped Cisco create and launch their community page on Tumblr. Cisco uses Tumblr to share how their products and the connectivity of things is transforming the world, reaching a new audience they might not normally reach on traditional channels.
Spotify, SoundCloud, Shazam
Music streaming, sharing and identifying may seem like an unlikely consideration, but when you look at the growing audience sizes (40 million each for Spotify and SoundCloud; 225 million for Shazam,) they could provide a new way for you to reach the right audience. Spotify and SoundCloud already allow users to integrate their music choices on Facebook and Twitter, and SoundCloud allows users and artists to upload their own music. All of them offer opportunities for audio and banner ads.
Chances are the people in your target audience will have multiple things in common, including their taste in music. Using these audiences by asking them to develop a common playlist, theme or via contests or opinions on songs helps you establish a new community, one that you can continue to nurture by adding your own recommended songs. Musical content is just another form of content, not unlike videos or words. Having your audience’s vote on or brand playlists that remind them of their experience with your product is just another tool to enable you to build connections with them.
Some (or all, or none! of these) channels may turn out to be “the next big thing” for marketers. But experimenting with them today may yield some exciting new opportunities for your company and brand.