By Hayley Biddle
The evolution of advertising has been an action-packed whirlwind since the golden age of television in the 1970s when an individual’s exposure to advertisements was far more limited than it is today. The average person has gone from seeing approximately 500 marketing messages per day to a mind-blowing 5000. As various communication mediums have progressed over time to offer more choices for consumers, those within the marketing industry have had to pick up the pace and become more competitive. Appropriately optimizing space within each new medium can oftentimes be a game of cat and mouse with the ever-changing rules, regulations and expectations. Long gone are the days of having only a handful of television channels, a few magazine options, limited radio stations and scattered billboards. We now have the world at our fingertips.
The globalization of the World Wide Web set the new standard for our society to engage with each other and all over the world. The introduction of instant messaging through email revolutionized communication, and consumers were quick to demand more. The technological advancements of cell phones and the availability of text messaging spread like wildfire. Soon after, the ability to text images to each other hit the ground running and our communication strategies have never been the same. The world no longer thrives on written information—we crave a technological diet of continuous visual stimulation that can be digested and shared instantly with one another.
The idea of having one electronic locality to share information led to a variety of online social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest) that allows the consumer to pick and choose how, when and with whom they interact. Because consumers now have complete control over what, where and why they connect, the reigns have essentially transferred from the advertiser to the consumer. In 2018 the number of internet users worldwide was approximately 4.021 billion and the number of social media users was 3.196 billion. Cell phone users are now up to 5.135 billion. Considering the world population now is just under 8 billion, and the majority of internet users have social media, it is safe to say that utilizing these platforms to connect, engage and advertise is highly advantageous.
Consumerism is not a stagnant phenomenon and its fluctuations are constant. The age group of consumers plays an integral role in using successful marketing methods. In modern society today, Millennial consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 dominate the marketplace, with an ever-increasing number of sales taking place online. The average American adult now spends more than 11 hours per day interacting with online media in some fashion. Every age now looks to social media for access to the latest news, trends, product purchases or for quick entertainment. Never before has there been an interactive medium quite like social media.
Most companies have a limited budget designated for marketing and it is imperative to use it wisely. Considering that most internet users also use social media, it only makes sense to market where that attention is being directed. Oftentimes, social media users are more receptive to marketing messages because they are being offered in a space where they choose to spend their time. Social platforms also provide opportunities for consumers to start conversations about their favorite brands and products. This is a great value for businesses as word-of-mouth is a powerful tool and people take pride in sharing their own opinions.
Another benefit of advertising on social media is the opportunity for brands to reach a broader audience—while also defining and marketing to the audience using the built-in marketing tools provided by each platform. A small boutique with a single brick-and-mortar location can now offer their products worldwide, but also narrow and tailor their message reach to only those who are likely to purchase their merchandise or services.
Never before has there been such an interactive, consumer-driven and far-reaching marketplace for goods and services as our society experiences today. Although challenges do persist as new demands and algorithms are introduced in social media spaces, it is an exciting time for businesses. Opportunities for expanding brand identity and creating awareness are no longer limited by location and in-person exposure. Maximizing the many pathways in which social media can create visibility for less money than previous methods is of great value to anyone seeking success in today’s marketplace.