October 6, 2014
Written by Alexander Landers
The beginning of this month, February 2014, marked a point in Internet history: it has been 10 years ago since Mark Zuckerberg founded social media network Facebook and it is that network that has become the popular social media network over time. The rise and the enormous use of social media is just one good example of how Internet has changed over the last years and is still changing as we speak.
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People’s “online habits and buying process [have] changed, in large part reshaped by the Internet itself” (Duffy 2014). For example, it is not only the people who use today’s biggest social media network for socialising purposes – Facebook has become an often-used tool for marketers as well. In my experience, the Internet has changed from a mostly informative platform for professionals and consumers to a platform where people can literally share anything and react on that published material online.
As the Internet is still changing, marketers change their online tactics as well. In this E-paper, I will try to identify 10 notable changes in marketing on the Internet, in order to help marketers doing their job better.
1. Use of Online Communities
Online communities are social networks on the Internet where people confer with each other “to pursue common goals and/or interests. This interaction often crosses political and geographical boundaries” (Patruno 2013). For example, the brand of the mobile phone that I recently bought, Oppo, uses its online community to help customers (help themselves) with their problems and the software developers to gain customer insights from them. You have to be a member of the online community before you can actually get involved on topics you are interested in.
Marketers should take advantage of Seraj’s main theoretical contribution on online communities where “the need for the concurrent existence of content quality, playful interactivity helps with building social ties and a self-governed community culture with its citizens playing certain roles” (Seraj 2012, p. 220).
2. Focus on two sorts of consumers
The second important notable change to marketing on the Internet is that a marketer nowadays should focus on two sorts of consumers: both the consumers with a utilitarian orientation and the ones with a more hedonic orientation as Scarpi (2012) states in his article. Utilitarian orientated consumers are far more goal oriented when they surf on the Internet to find products, whereas the consumers who are more hedonically orientated and are shopping online for fun; they want to enjoy the shopping experience more. This means that for an E-tailer’s website fun sells off, because then the hedonically orientated consumers return to the website to buy other products several times. However, this sort of consumer spends less on average than the utilitarian orientated consumers. So although a marketer of online products is “more inclined to a utilitarian orientation, they could consider adding features to induce consumers to be more hedonic on the Web site” (Scarpi 2012, p.65).
3. Managing eWOM
Electroninic Word of Mouth (eWOM) has gotten more effective on the internet, as social the usage of social media usage increased in the last years. It still is very difficult for a marketer to manage eWom, but the authors Sandes & Urdan (2012) have tried to verify in their article if eWom affects consumer behaviour and if companies can manage eWom by actively responding to comments posted by consumers. Sandes & Urdan’s study showed that exposure to comment (both negative and positive) impacts brand image, just as word-of-mouth marketing does in real life. Although online negative-feedback management reduces the impact on brand image but did not change the impact on purchase intention. Therefore, the marketer should engage in the discussion online.
4. Use of social networks
The fourth notable change to market on the Internet is the changes in use of social networks. For example, the biggest social network of all, Facebook, has changed that consumers can now decide themselves which of their friends get to see their posts. New tactics should help the marketer with the use of social media. Kietzmann and others presented a framework in their article seven building blocks that firms should use for social media: identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation and groups (Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy & Silvestreet 2011, p. 248). By using these building blocks marketers can be more consistent in their use of social networks and attract as many potential clients as possible.
5. Virtual worlds
Virtual worlds are simulated environments that are computer based. Examples of virtual worlds are Second Life and Habbo. “Second life was designed with the expectation being on the residents to establish their own community rules for appropriate behaviour. On the other hand some virtual worlds such as Habbo enforce clear rules for behaviour, as seen in their terms of condition” (Haskins 2008). That is why it is not so easy for a marketer to get involved in virtual worlds, although research of Eisenbeiss and others states that socializing, creativity and escape emerge as individual drivers for people who are participating in a virtual world (Eisenbeiss, Blechschmidt, Backhaus & Freund 2012, p. 16). So now at least marketers know what the most important drivers are of these people to get involved in those world. There is not enough research done yet to state how marketers should exactly get involved in virtual worlds.
6. Internet affects generations and genders differently
Research has not only been done about how the Internet affects generations differently, but also on how it affects genders differently. The research done by Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden has results which suggest “that normative (parents, peers, and the Internet) influences affect Generation Y more than Generation X. Conversely, as this study found, informative influences of parents, traditional media, and in particular, the Internet affect Generation X. Furthermore, the findings show that the Internet is an important normative socialization agent influencing men, while it acts as an informative socialization agent for women” (Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden 2011, p. 179).These are very interesting results for marketers on the Internet, if they want to better approach their target group.
7. Offline versus online TV-advertising
Marketers can still spend a lot of money on advertising on TV. Because more and more television is watched online nowadays, it is interesting to know what the differences are in adverting for marketing for both kinds of television. Cho & Cheon already found out through their study “why people avoid internet advertising”, namely because people avoid advertisements because of the perceived ad clutter (Cho & Cheon 2014, p. 90). This is also what Logan confirms in his article about the online TV watching group: the group watching online TV was less tolerant of advertising than the offline TV group (Logan 2013, p. 271). The same article describes that viewers of Online TV do not regard advertising as a means to subsidize the cost of online content. Rather, young adults appear to regard advertising as an intruder in the OTV environment (Logan 2013, p. 271). This calls for new ways of advertising for online TV, if you ask me.
8. Old media can help use of Internet
Another notable change on the Internet is that marketers tend to think that it is either/or when it comes to marketing through old media and marketing via the Internet. This is not correct, as Pfeiffer & Zinnbauer explain in their article. They argue that old media can enhance new media “To build brand strength, or to actively convey a brand's positioning relative to competitors toward a broad audience, however, classic advertising remains a necessity” (Pfeiffer & Zinnbauer 2010, p. 47). But potential synergies between two or more media channels have to also be taken into account when marketers come to their final media mix decision: that is why old media can enhance new media.
9. Power of social media ecosystem
The change in power of social media on the Internet is also something marketers should take into account. It can make or break the marketing of a company. That is why Hanna and others state in their article that both social and traditional media should be seen as part of an ecosystem. “All elements work together toward a common objective: whether to launch and promote a new product or service; to communicate a new company initiative; or to simply further engage customers in a rich, meaningful, and interactive dialogue” (Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden 2011, p. 273).
10. Measuring ROI of social media marketing
The last notable change to market on the Internet is that measuring of Return On Investment (ROI) of social media marketing has become easier for companies. Hoffmann and Fodor explain in their article that the social Web has become highly measurable. It has been made “relatively simple for a manager to measure the number of product reviews, blog posts and comments, retweets and appearances in the social network timelines of the company’s brands” (Hoffmann & Fodor 2010, p. 49). None the less, the authors don’t forget to mention that there are still are some situations in which it is difficult to trace behaviour online (for example offline word of mouth and offline purchases).
In this E-Paper, I have discussed 10 notable changes to market on the Internet for marketers. The sum of it all is that I do not think that marketers underestimate changes on the Internet, but it is all about how they adapt changes of the Internet over the last 10 years. I have tried to pick out the most notable changes on the Internet to me, but I can see the limitation of my research, because there are far more changes that have happened over the last decade. I hope the changes I have mentioned, will give food for thought for marketers that want to market on the internet. Just imagine: how will the Internet will look like in 10 years from now?
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