Five years ago, marketing through social media was largely handled through conventional sponsorship measures such as banner ads and the like, and was almost entirely concentrated on Facebook. Times have changed, however, and the central mode of marketing via social media has shifted to a more mimetic, viral methodology. In addition, the range of social networks and the geographical representation of their audiences have vastly increased, and will require more innovative, modern marketing techniques on the part of online advertisers.
First and foremost, over the past five years marketers have realized that the most effective way to reach customers through social media is through other customers. Users of social media have been trained by frequent use to gloss over banner and sponsored ads, but often pay close attention to products and services mentioned by other users. To this end, modern marketing makes extensive use of viral, interactive campaigns, with a focus on encouraging online word-of-mouth sharing. The most successful of these campaigns have incorporated contests with a creative focus. Search Engine Optimization is an important part of this, allowing customers without a single distinct phrase or link to easily find one’s product.
The number of popular social media outlets, and the variance thereof, has also drastically increased over the last five years. While Facebook, Twitter, and other text-based social networks have remained popular, more visual and picture-oriented fora such as Tumblr, Instagram, and Reddit have begun to increase in popularity. This is a huge boon for social marketers: the vast majority of customers remember specific images when making purchasing decisions, and recognize products on shelves by their logos and visual design. Thus, it is critical that social marketers make use of these newer, growing social networks while keeping in mind their uniquely visual nature.
Finally, the number of people using social media has vastly increased over the last five years, greatly impacting and emphasizing the importance of varied methods of customer outreach. In particular, the number of users of social media in Africa and East Asia has vastly increased, nearly doubling in the past five years alone, making it much more convenient for advertisers to reach these oftentimes neglected populations. Fortunately, the previously-mentioned focus on images present in many newer social networks is making it ever easier to reach potential customers across the gulf of language.