The 4 Hottest Social Media Marketing Trends Explained

Kipp Bodnar
Kipp Bodnar



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4 Social Media Marketing Trends Deconstructed

1. Collective Buying


  Have you heard of Groupon ? It is the market leader for an emerging type on online commerce called collective buying. Groupon and its competitors partner with businesses to offer members a product or service at a major discount (40% off or more). So what is the catch? Customers aren't promised the deal unless a certain number of people agree to buy the product or service for that price.  Groupon is essentially providing businesses with the opportunity to acquire a guaranteed sized group of customers. For example, a spa service that might normally cost $100 would be available to Groupon members for $40, as long as 1,000 people agreed to buy the service for that price.

These collective buying deals are normally offered once per day in a specific geographic market. Groupon has quickly expanded into major and mid-sized markets across the United States.

Marketing Takeaway:
Collective buying is less about selling products and more about expanding reach and awareness. Groupon and its competitors have growing email databases that can be hugely valuable to marketers. When deciding if collective buying is right for your business, consider scale. If 1,000 people bought your product and service tomorrow, would most of them love it? If not, it is likely important to work on product improvements. Your product and customer service needs to be able to scale to a burst of new customers to make collective buying worthwhile.

2. Location-Based Services

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Where are you, and what are you doing there? These are the questions that popular location-based companies like Foursquare , Gowalla , Loopt and others are trying to determine. These location-based services let you share the places you visit with friends via checkins. When a location-based user checks into a service, he or she uses a cell phone with a GPS to share the location with friends.  Location-based services are still very new; the market leader, Foursquare , only has about 2 million users, though it is growing at a rapid rate. Proponents of location-based services describe them as a way to bring together offline and online connections. Businesses like Starbucks have begun to launch campaigns using these location-based services to offer special discounts to people who check-in at a location.

Location-based services often function as a publicly facing loyalty program for businesses. Instead of scanning a loyalty card at a cash register, users check into a store and tell all of their friends they are there.

Marketing Takeaway :
Location is an important layer of data in our growing online marketing machines. However, it is unclear if location merits a stand-alone application or will eventually become a feature of many different types of social web applications. Additionally, privacy concerns about sharing location data may impact the rate of adoption for these services, especially with demographics that are sensitive to sharing that type of information. 

If you are a marketer for a retail business, then location-based services and features are something you should be investigating. Look for other businesses who have used these services successfully, such as AJ Bombers .  For other businesses, it is important to understand the implications of location-based applications, but the industry is still too young for more complex B2B and non-retail marketing opportunities.

3. Social Magazines

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Few start-up web applications have come from seemingly thin air to create as much buzz as Flipboard , the new social magazine application for Apple’s iPad. This application and others like Pulse take information from news sources and social networks like Twitter and Facebook and display them in the form of a digital magazine, instead of boring lists of headlines like most RSS readers.

Marketing Takeaway:
We recently wrote an entire article about the marketing implications of social magazines , and I recommend you give it a read if you are interested in this topic. For marketers, social magazines serve as a blaring reminder that everyone is now a publisher and that prospective customers have more sources of information available to them than ever before. Whether it is in the form of a social magazine or something else, it is our job as marketers to become great publishers and to deliver our content in the preferred consumption format of our prospective customers.

4. Social Gaming

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  Social gaming is flying under the radar of most marketers. This rapidly growing online entertainment industry is huge and getting even bigger. More than 100 million people will play social games like Mafia Wars and Farmville this year. Social games will generate more than 1 billion dollars in revenue. Many social games started as applications within social networks like Facebook but are quickly expanding to become their own stand-alone applications.

Marketing Takeaway:
Disney recently acquired social game company Playdom for $763.2 million. The social gaming space is only getting hotter. As a marketer, social gaming illustrates that time spent online is not solely limited to checking email and reading news. As entertainment habits change, more traditional categories of entertainment, and subsequently marketing, are happening online. What does your business need to do to position its marketing strategy accordingly? 

Become a Marketing Innovator

These trends may not apply to your marketing strategy today, but it is important to devote a little time to understand them. By understanding these trends, you can enhance how you plan and improve marketing strategies in the future. Once you have determined that you can successfully leverage one of these social media marketing trends in your marketing plan, don’t delay in implementing it.

Don’t wait for another company in your industry to do it first. The online market rewards businesses that make the first move. One of these trends could be an opportunity to innovate your marketing strategy and take your business to the next level.

What are some other social media marketing trends that you think should be included in this list?

Photo Credit: cat segovia

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