– Aparna Chatterjee
With the launch of platforms connecting people online, we all knew a new phenomenon was about to take us by the storm. From Orkut to Instagram, we have come a long way in perceiving the information and showcasing our lives. Initially, we did have a considerable stigma around it. Society tries to govern what one can and cannot post. But every social media platform lets us use our freedom of expression and maintain impose few security guidelines. As more people started using these platforms, it was high time that the brands followed the lead.
Facebook, Twitter became the prime medium of connecting with the masses. Instagram, which initially was a photo-sharing app, started becoming a part of marketing campaigns. Memes ironically became an easier way of distributing information as well as manipulating consumer behavior. There was a time when brands focused on creating advertisements that would trigger the masses emotionally, invoking a sense of belongingness that would nudge the customers to buy their products. Later with the help of collaborations with movie and TV stars, the influence would become stronger. The budget required was immense. Hence it became even more difficult for smaller brands to take up space and improve their consumer footprint. But today, that is not a necessity for successfully marketing a product.
Brands can hire a social media manager, or if it is a ship with only a captain, they can attract customers by creating content. The rise of digital marketing made it easier to direct and manage online traffic. Intelligent advertisements from brands like Zomato, Swiggy, Durex, etc. never fail to amuse us. Right from capturing attention and subconsciously implanting scenarios, the effort to create mental imagery when consumers think of the brands is sneaky and apt. Big multinational brands are trying hard to be as relatable as possible and this led to creating products for people of all colors, shapes, and sizes. Right from matching foundations for dusky and dark skin tones to clothes for people of big sizes, we have come a long way in the journey of inclusivity. Not just this, brands now thrive in the LGBTQIA+ community whereas, in the past, this entire section of consumers was shunned. In 2021 the story is a bit different; we have all big and small brands celebrating pride month.
The era of influencers started shortly after. Influencers by definition, are social media personalities that have a huge following. Brands approach them for promoting their products and try even harder to be relatable, but via these influencers. These collaborations are comparatively cheaper as the production cost for the advert reduces significantly, and the cost of collaboration is far lesser than that of a movie/TV personality. Just like those weird 5-minute craft videos that show all the impossible scenarios one can come across, brands try to imply their use whether it is necessary or not. Multi-billion companies aren’t far behind. We face a big wagon that has all the brands seated inside comfortably, driving our behavior without our realization. But, that’s exactly what smart marketing is.
It was never possible to disrupt the stock market and change traders’ behaviors rapidly, until now. A single tweet can make you purchase stocks in bulk and sell it in the blink of your eye. We have seen this mainly with Mr. Musk, who made the valuation of cryptocurrency go high and low just like we inhale and exhale. He has managed to increase the value of Dogecoin despite the market being dominated by cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum. With the ocean of information out there, one can tend to feel overwhelmed. It is now difficult to understand whether we have any control over what we watch and what we read. While we have brands that are capitalizing on our attention span, it is even more difficult to understand if we purchase a product because we needed it, or we simply got influenced by these successful marketing campaigns.
But who doesn’t like a good meme? And political parties, bands, entertainers, colleges, and universities are all in for it. We all can use some good laugh. However, memes have just become a medium for a marketer to convey that they are just like you and hence view a problem just the way you do and further, try to promise you the very results you want. Long gone are the days where a salesman had to pitch in to do the very same thing. The additional advantage is that the same can be done for millions of consumers at once.
Social media platforms have successfully personified brands. Hence creating and maintaining the consumer relationship has become easy. Yes, ultimately, it comes down to the quality of services and products. The transparency has made it easier for consumers to question the brands and vocalize their grievances not just to them but also to the masses. That forced the brands to be extra cautious regarding addressing the distresses and strengthening their customer support systems. Using the power of data, we consumers can dictate the market. Until then, let’s enjoy the memes and converse with the faceless brands like they are the ghosts of our past.