Nothing changes faster these days than the rules of the internet and particularly how brands are seen. What’s in and cool one month is out-of-fashion the next and tacky within two years. The biggest factor in this equation is the ever-growing penetration of social media – not to mention social media usage on mobile with a 49% penetration globally and with a year-by-year growth of 9,2%. In my work, I need to be extremely agile and open for the wide range of changes that are happening constantly. In order to keep up with clientele and make sure that my business stays relevant, I have to not only stay informed of current trends as well as customer choices. I also need to always be aware of how the actually structures and rules of the internet effect my own marketing strategies.
So, what are some of the major changes that have happened during the last years when it comes to branding a business?
Since the news of Cambridge Analytica and several similar stories, most people as myself very much included have developed a new suspicion of big tech companies and how our personal data is handled. It’s discomforting to not feel a sense of ownership over your own data and that discomfort on.
This new concern about privacy helped lead to the European Union passing the GDPR in 2018 which changed how tech companies can collect, store and use customers’ personal data. While this was considered positive, it also meant that I also had to reconsider how I use these same tools.
For example, for using Facebook’s tools like its built-in demographic and interest targeting, not much needed to be adapted for the GDPR compliance. Although all appearance of people now needed to be consented. Otherwise, not much tactics needed to be changed. However, certain features that could target purchase behaviours and education did disappear. At the same time, any platform that I use to advertise, market and communicate directly to customers is responsible for compliance, so as long as don’t collect data about customers through these sites, again I don’t have much that I need to change.
It’s this same need for privacy that also attracted people to the concept of disappearing content. When I first got familiar with social online, there was often a sense of permanence as though anything posted online would remain there forever. Snapchat, and now also Instagram/Facebook/WhatsApp Stories, offer something that wasn’t available anywhere else. With its absolutely impermanent content, this new type of content had a sense of fun, immediacy and exclusivity. And these factors made me understand how this could also be used to build a brand. Disappearing content is a great tool to show a brands’ more personal side, the not-so-serious part of the business – the human side. I believe this will be a key component in social in the future.
For years the adage in marketing has been to make things as personal as possible, but I’ve always felt this was somewhat hollow. In order to reach the largest possible audience. However, with the more personal video sharing services like the previous Vine, Snapchat and TikTok, I could make my brand something more than another ad in a flurry of online market spaces. This way, my brand could feel more personal and more connected with the customer. Over this could also make it feel more human and less abstract as well.
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Author: Benjamin Gredeson - creative strategist, founder of plankton - a modern management consultancy