Himanshu Arya, Founder & CEO, Grapes Digital

Himanshu Arya, a banker turned into an entrepreneur, is a pleasant example of ‘Where there is a will there is a way’. Himanshu always dreamt of building something of his own, he decided to move away from a cosy banking job and a fixed income in 2009 to start a software company, Grapes Software. Himanshu was courageous enough to leap into the uncharted territories of entrepreneurship. Despite several ups and downs, Himanshu followed the path and has come a long way in the last 11 years. During this time, he upgraded Grapes Software into Grapes Digital, which is currently India’s leading independent digital agency. Today, Himanshu Arya is a name to reckon with in India’s advertising business with two thriving offices across Delhi and Mumbai. He has won several awards and is a close advisor to brands on digital marketing solutions. Himanshu is an avid reader and likes to keep abreast with changing times and newer developments. He is a firm believer in collectively creating good work for the industry and motivating young talent. 

 

The rapid expansion of social media has considerably changed the dynamics of the marketing arena. The last few years were dominated by personalized, Influential marketing to Artificial Intelligence and Voice Assistant (VO). The emerging popularity of such tools has transformed the way brands communicate to viewers. 

For many decades’ marketers favoured print, radio and TV mediums for interacting with their target audience, but now these age-old traditional mediums are getting disrupted with the emergence of new media techniques. Social media has transformed itself from just being an entertainment platform to an integrated marketing channel. 2020, being a historic and challenging year for the world brought a sea of changes, but one of the biggest changes it caused was the significant rise in the use of social media. Digital media has grown exponentially in the last 18 months, thanks to the pandemic for being the disruptor. It poised challenges in front of businesses to accept the changes, as change is the law of nature. The pandemic has accelerated the shift by five years in consumer and business digital adoption. 

The outcomes of the pandemic affected not only the economy but also the balance sheets. Amid such a situation, marketers deliberated to spend wisely on marketing. Advertisements, campaigns and promotions are a must for the brands, and therefore marketing through social media channels is a big relief for marketers due to its cost-effective business model. This led businesses across varied verticals to shift their marketing strategies. Even during the lockdown, people were spending a long time on social media channels more than ever, thus, in a way creating an opportunity for brands to leverage it. 

It’s quite apparent that social media gives massive reach and provides effective results in increasing brand exposure, but at the same time, it demands better execution and research. Marketing on social channels has evolved significantly going beyond just like, share and comment to using advanced machine learning to target users based on their expected behaviour.

Social media frequently comes with innovative measures to lure brands. Developments like Snapchat’s brand filters and Instagram in-app purchases, reels introduction to the app, the arrival of Clubhouse in India and many other developments took social media by storm.

Let’s look at some of the trends that must be incorporated in the social media marketing strategy:-

Brand Advocacy

Content plays a pertinent role in brand advocacy, but it has to be Interesting, Appealing and Engaging to your target audience. It helps the brand reach a larger number of people without spending much. Brand advocacy will come as a major initiative in social marketing to promote the product or service to customers organically. There is no short route to get organic engagement; fake followers can never give a long-lasting reach to the brand. Hence, clear and precise content is the key to success in the future of social media marketing.

Budget-Friendly and Build Awareness 

Social media as a marketing medium is one of the cost-effective mediums that produce attainable results as well. Where other marketing channels hold a bigger pie of the marketing budget, social media can deliver a better ROI. The other valuable thing social media encompasses is that it helps in developing a loyal customer base, if people like your products/services then customer satisfaction will grow ultimately. It’s the only platform where you can engage with your target audience. 

Influencer marketing

Although present for a few years now, Influencer marketing was earlier limited to celebrities and bloggers. Now, brands are increasingly using this as a tool in their marketing mix. The reason being, it gives better customer engagement, builds credibility and trust. However, brands should be more prudent in their choice of influencer otherwise it might not be productive. Companies should craft their strategies innovatively, with a twist, as trends become noticeable when it’s new, in-demand or out of the box. Even, collaborating with micro-influencers works effectively, but it goes well only with the right influencer reaches the right TG.

Chatbots & AI

Chatbots and AI are gaining utmost importance for companies whose business depends on smartphones and drive sales through social media. This is one of the reasons food delivery apps and the travel industry are increasingly dependent on AI. In the pandemic, pharma was also one of the sectors that used AI frequently. 

In future, we could see the automotive, retail and other industries investing in this particular tool considering these sectors efficiently use social media to strengthen their marketing game.

Video-on Demand

While users are addicted to their mobile phones, leveraging video content has become very crucial. Branded content viewership is witnessing a huge upsurge in the digital world. Video content is going to dominate social media marketing this year too, as video garners better ROI than texts. The power of video is that it can make your brand viral too if it’s fresh and engaging.

In India, till now Social media marketing is used for customer engagement and building purposes but we could see this space driving sales also. Facebook is one of the leading platforms for product discovery; Instagram and Snapchat are also catching up with this trend. At a later stage, we could see other companies joining the bandwagon to promote their products on social media to boost sales.

However, brands should take the advantage of social media platforms strategically instead of overdoing them because it deteriorates the interest amongst the users. Social Media has come a long way from being just a photo-sharing platform and will see newer concepts, unique ways to engage with the users in the digital world. But businesses should keep in mind that this is the right time to start because the earlier you start, the faster you see the growth in the business. Social media has enough room to develop, and the possibilities are endless. Maybe in the coming years, it will decimate conventional marketing.

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