Looking back at 2012, there were several exciting developments in the world of branding and marketing. Most of these changes took place in the digital sphere – Facebook exceeded one billion users, mobile devices became widely used, and visual sharing sites like Pinterest made a big splash. 2013 is bound to be another transformative year, with new opportunities and industry-wide innovations. Here are five online brand trends to look for in the coming year:
1. Mobile Explosion
Last year more people purchased a smart phone than a PC. In 2013, mobile phones will surpass PCs as the primary means of accessing the Internet. By 2015, 81% of U.S. cell phone users will have smart phones. The mobile proliferation will necessitate that businesses focus more on mobile delivery and strategy to better connect with consumers. In addition, website design will evolve to accommodate mobile devices.
2. Authentic Stories Matter
Social media has broken down the old, one-way communication delivery wall and marketing speak has been replaced by human voices. Storytelling and unique brand personality will become more important as the social arena matures and consumers demand more transparent interaction.
3. Social Media in Flux
A recent report by Social Bakers found Facebook use in the U.S. dropped by 1.4 million in December 2012. On the flip side, traffic on Pinterest doubled in 2012. New social platforms are springing up daily, splintering social media channels. In 2013, smart marketers will find new ways to sync social media with broader marketing efforts and utilize more sophisticated tools related to social media.
4. E-commerce Everywhere
Selling online has become easier than ever for businesses, and consumers are increasingly using smart phones and tablets to shop on the go. In 2013, online brands will adapt e-commerce strategies to reach mobile and social users. Brett Markinson, founder of shoe retailer Sole Society, puts it this way, “Building and distributing a successful brand in the Internet era is about addressing the new behaviors of an evolving customer base by leveraging the changing landscape and its new dynamics.”
5. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words Again
Although well-written content is more necessary than ever, 2013 will be the year of the image. Social sites like Instagram and Pinterest – along with the popularity of video, rich media and photo boards – have made it easier for brands to embrace visual storytelling. Brands will not only rely on more original visual content, marketers will curate or collect images to help shape online brands.
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