The beginning of a new year is full of promises and new resolutions. But then December sets in and you are pushed to look back at the year and reminisce. What trends caught on, what couldn’t hold on and what just got abandoned on the way. The ever growing social media ecosystem in India is also undergoing altercations every year.
Facebook claims 100 million users in the country in 2014, Twitter does not say anything but as per eMarketer’s forecast on Twitter users, India will have 18.1 million Twitter users, the third largest Twitter population in the world in 2014. We are also on Quora, Instagram, Pinterest, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Tinder, Secret and more; we are on just about anything that gives us a social kick. And moreover, we are a country with the largest youth demographic and one of the fastest growing emerging markets in the world.
The eventual digitization of the world is also being reflected in India. Digital and social media is broadly getting defined by new user behaviour, while campaigns are seeing an evolution in the social media space. Digital marketers are shelling out more budgets for the space and creative folks are carving out more engaging ways to connect with the consumer.
Here, we revisit 2014 to look for patterns in the social media and digital media marketing space. Some new trends emerged while a few earlier trends evolved, but nevertheless these caught on in the year.
1. Storytelling for a digital audience
Stories have enthralled audiences across the world. While we grew up to have our own favourite stories, the format of storytelling remains unchanged. So while a Hamlet by Shakespeare is recycled into Haider the movie, the plot is still the hero. This year, we experienced quite a few brands employ storytelling to connect with their consumers. Digital marketing shifted its communication from traditional product driven messages to stories that stayed inside you. Read “Why Storytelling Is The Future Of Digital Marketing.
2. From the 30-second TVC to the short digital film
This year brands were no more restricted to spread their message within 30 seconds or a minute to the vast masses on television. They could say it instead in short films sometimes as long as 7 minutes and expect a better ROI on digital. The 30-second TVC made way for a longer digital version to enable better storytelling and deeper connect with this year seeing some of the best long format brand films. Be it the stammering standup comedian by Nescafe or the female astronaut in space by Kitkat India, most of these films warmed our hearts. Read “The 9 Must Watch Long Format Indian Ad Films Of 2014”.
3. Do good, tag a friend and help spread the word
Many social tagging campaigns sprung up following the huge social media success of the #IceBucketChallenge – an ALS awareness initiative started in the US, where one had to pour a bucket of ice cold water on themselves or else pay to the charity. The challenge was carried forward by tagging social connections. Back in India we had the #RiceBucketChallenge that involved sharing rice with someone needy. PM Modi took a cue from this for his ‘Swachch Bharat Abhiyan’ and launched a cool tagging campaign that involved cleaning up your locality, taking pictures and tagging your friends to do the same. In fact, Shaadi.com also started a social movement for ‘Karwa chauth’ this year through tagging. It asked husbands to fast for their wives and invite other husbands to do the same.
4. The rise of the selfie avatars
After being crowned as ‘Word of the year’ by Oxford Dictionaries in 2013, the humble ‘Selfie’ evolved into many avatars in 2014. The year saw a shoefie, a felfie, a dogdie, a handfie, and also a reverse selfie in addition to the regular selfie. PM Modi also created history when he posted a selfie of his inked finger after having voted at the general elections this year. While brands came up with apps for clicking better selfies, mobile phone makers introduced phones specifically for enhanced selfies. For some fun and some weird selfie promotions in India, read “2014: The Year Of The Selfie Campaigns In India”.
5. The Influencer evolution
Marketers have always preferred influence to drive brand affinity over other forms of paid media. Research findings point to the fact that influencer associations have a significant impact on a brand’s reputation as well as its sales. This brings us to a rise in innovative influencer-led marketing campaigns be it for launching a new product, building brand awareness and brand advocacy in varied sectors like FMCG, banking, food & beverages, beauty and technology. With a rise in new age influencers, 2014 has also been witness to some interesting influencer-driven campaigns that sought to cater to specific communities and reach out to them meaningfully. For a look at the year’s best influencer marketing campaigns, do read “The Best Influencer Marketing Campaigns Of 2014”.
6. Branded content goes mainstream
This year saw advertising take a giant leap of evolution, not only with fresh films made specifically for digital audiences, but also leveraging mediums with the most number of millenials. For most brands, be it in the FMCG, food & beverages, movies and entertainment or banking and insurance, the target audience is the youth and they don’t watch soap operas or general entertainment channels on TV. Instead, they prefer new age content like funny memes and videos to share with their friends. Brands teamed up with new age media companies like The Viral Fever Media Labs to create appealing content for the masses, while also retaining their brand message. For more on how 2014 has seen the emergence of branded content, read “Digital Storytelling 2.0: How Branded Content Is Coming Of Age”.
7. Innovative co-creation with the community
Brands know the magic of co-creating with the community. For one, it makes consumers feel special and also adds weightage to regular engagement activities on social media. Although it comes with its challenges, brands this year experimented with content co-creation by bringing in professional singers, artists, comedians, doodlers and the likes to create memorable content pieces in real time. So fans could think up a few lyrics and have professional singers give it a lovely tune and sing it for them. For some of the best examples of content co-creation, read “The 11 Best Content Co-Creation Campaigns Of 2014”.