– Aparna Chatterjee
With the launch of platforms connecting people online, we all knew a new phenomenon would take us by storm. From Orkut to Instagram, we have come a long way in perceiving 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 imposes few security guidelines. As more people started using these platforms, it was high time that the brands followed the lead.
Facebook and Twitter became the prime medium for connecting with the masses. Instagram, a photo-sharing app, started becoming a part of marketing campaigns. Memes ironically became an easier way of distributing information and manipulating consumer behavior. There was a time when brands focused on creating advertisements that would trigger the masses emotionally—in a way, 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 more substantial. 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., always amuse us. 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 try hard to be as relatable as possible, creating products for people of all colors, shapes, and sizes. From matching foundations for dusky and dark skin tones to clothes for people of big sizes, we have come a long way in 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 was 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 with a considerable following. Brands approach them to promote their products and try even more challenges to be relatable via these influencers. These collaborations are comparatively cheaper as the production cost for the advert reduces significantly, and the cost of cooperation is far lesser than that of a movie/TV personality. Like those weird 5-minute craft videos that show all the impossible scenarios one can come across, brands try to imply their use, whether necessary or not. Multi-billion companies aren’t far behind. We face a big wagon with all the brands seated comfortably, driving our behavior without our realization. But that’s what clever marketing is.
Disrupting the stock market and changing traders’ behaviors rapidly was impossible. A single tweet can make you purchase stocks in bulk and sell it in the blink of an eye. We have seen this mainly with Mr. Musk, who made cryptocurrency valuation 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 feel overwhelmed. It is now difficult to understand whether we control what we watch and read. While we have brands capitalizing on our attention span, it is even more challenging to know if we purchase a product because we need it or are 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 laughs. However, memes have just become a medium for a marketer to convey that they are just like you and hence view a problem just as you do and, further, try to promise you the exact results you want. Gone are when a salesman had to pitch in to do the same thing. The additional advantage is that the same can be done for millions of consumers simultaneously.
Social media platforms have successfully personified brands. Hence creating and maintaining the consumer relationship has become easy. Ultimately, it comes down to the quality of services and products. Transparency has made it easier for consumers to question the brands and vocalize their grievances to them and 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. Let’s enjoy the memes and converse with the faceless brands like they are the ghosts of our past.
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