Digital media is unlike the traditional media that brands were using to communicate with their customers. The nature of traditional media is one-way. Brands own the media space and produce the content. They have the liberty to style, tone and create it the way they want to. The playing field is different on digital and social media. Social media began as networking platforms where users communicated and connected with each other. As popularity grew, brands soon trickled in. It is a community of users and its two-way nature is its most winning trait. Users can consume content and create their own on these platforms. Brands aren’t competing just with other brands on digital media for attention, but they’re competing with other users as well. So, for brands to successfully join the community and fit in, they had to speak the language of the users. The unique challenges posed by digital media led brands to treat the content for these platforms differently.

Becoming human

One of the quickest ways for brands to blend in with other users on digital media was to become like them i.e. human. If brands continued to communicate in the monotone and impersonal voice of traditional media, they would stick out like a sore thumb on digital media. Brands joined into the conversations of other users and tailored their content to the everyday joys and problems of humans. You would see a brand complaining about Monday blues and celebrating the upcoming weekend just like any other user would on social media. One of the most popular strategies has been brands engaging in banter with competing or unrelated brands. These conversations have been heartwarming, evoked chuckles and shown great potential for virality.

Telling stories, not pitches

An in-your-face advertisement simply doesn’t work today. Whether it’s a text, image or video, if it’s selling a product, it’s likely to be ignored, skipped or become a blind spot. The way around this was for brands to tell stories. What a product or service could do for a customer had to be woven into a narrative. It wasn’t about the features of the product, but the emotions it could evoke and the experience it promised the customer. In addition to brands telling their stories, it was even more effective when customers did it for them. Several brands post user-generated content on their pages and rope in influencers to do their bidding. It makes the brand relatable, credible and trustworthy to the customers.

Humour sells

Users usually log onto social media in their free time or when they’re bored. Customers looking for a source of entertainment are bound to connect with brands that provide the kind of content they seek. There’s nothing like a lighthearted joke or witty content to grab the attention of someone otherwise scrolling aimlessly. People joke around with their friends, a behaviour that extends to digital media. A brand with a sense of humour proved to be an instant way to form a connection with the audience. Though it’s worth noting that humour can be tricky territory. How a joke will be received depends on several factors including the brand’s overall identity, demographics and time. Netflix frequently gets it right with its humorous content on social media.

Moment marketing

One of the hottest buzzwords in marketing in recent times, moment marketing continues to be a favourite with brands. It’s essentially when a brand finds a way to insert itself into a trending topic. It could be a joke or meme, a discussion related to current affairs or a more sombre topic. Social media is an open forum that’s all about conversations with anyone free to join in, including brands. Like humour, a piece of moment marketing can either be a hit or unexpectedly go south. The content that’s been the most successful is when the brand has wiggled its way into a trending topic with ingenuity and creativity. Zomato is one of the brands that’s known for its repeated success with moment marketing. With traditional media, the audience invariably ends up consuming a brand’s content. Whether it’s a television or radio commercial that’s broadcast frequently over a period of time or outdoor or print placement that’s hard to miss. On digital media, it’s easy for users to simply skip or scroll through a brand’s message without a moment’s notice. Brands had to make their content work harder to truly grab a user’s attention. These unique concepts, when done right, have worked in the favour of brands. Not only has the content engaged users, but also prompted them to share it – earning reach that is more valuable than paid media.

About Author

Zahara Kanchwalla is the Co-Founder & CEO of Rite KnowledgeLabs, a knowledge-first digital agency; views expressed are personal.

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