Cast your minds back, if you will, to the latter days of the 20th Century. The millennium bug was in the news, Animal Hospital was on the TV and you were taking business calls on the road from a brand-new Nokia 3210. It seems like a different time, doesn’t it? An innocent time: a pre-9/11, pre-broadband, pre-Hannah Montana time. So what else has changed in the past 15 years or so? How has the world of marketing transformed since the late ‘90s and beyond?
Before the turn of the millennium, there was no such thing as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. MySpace didn’t come along until 1999, rising to popularity in 2003, while YouTube didn’t exist until another couple of years after that. The emergence of social media has had a considerable knock on effect on the marketing industry, particularly where audience interaction is concerned. Where previously marketing campaigns would be launched to the public before, weeks later, surveys and analytics could be used to gauge their success, things are far more immediate today. Social media means that audiences are now actively encouraged to engage with brands and their marketing activities. Feedback can be generated near-instantaneously and at little to no expense to the company; gone are the days when focus groups were considered an absolute necessity.
Social media would be nothing if not for the new technologies that have emerged to make use of such networks. Smartphones, tablets, WiFi and intelligent notebooks have revolutionised the way in which individuals communicate, access and disseminate information, so it’s vital that marketers make use of these resources in order to keep up with the changing face of audience interaction. Very few people leave home without their handheld devices, so it figures that these instruments feature heavily in many companies’ marketing activities. It is vital that marketers make use of the opportunities that are afforded them as new technologies are developed and widely adopted by the general public.
While things may have changed a great deal regarding the way in which marketers communicate with audiences, the central principles of marketing are arguably more important now than ever before. The way in which things have advanced, resulting in more immediacy, engagement and communicability, means that marketers need to communicate their messages as insightfully, accountably and commercially as possible or risk prompting the immediate ire of their audiences. As such, maintaining tried and tested methodologies whilst constantly adapting approaches when prompted by changes in audiences, markets and technologies is arguably the best course of action that contemporary marketers can take.
It will be very interesting to see how much further technology can take us. Some people have suggested that technological advances have stagnated, though future changes can never be ruled out. Who would have thought we would have the social media giants we have now, ten years ago? Only time will tell, but marketing is bound to adapt and change in the future.