living on both sides of a blog.

If one thing has been made clear throughout these last weeks, it is this:

The digital marketplace is  vast, comprised of numerous interactive platforms that are constantly evolving and adapting to better suit our digitally motivated culture. The Internet is accessible to more consumers than ever, and that fact, paired with the growing desire for global connectivity, has taken our marketplace into new territories of brand accessibility, reach, and experience. Take a look at this infographic that shows just how connected our digital world has become. Some of these interesting stats include:

-78.6% of Americans are on the Internet daily
-The use of mobile Internet access nearly doubles every year
-There is an average of over 3.2 billion Google searches every day

a-day-in-the-life-of-the-internet_5186937ec9c53_w587

This information is probably not all that shocking. Of course there has been a shift in digital communication, with a great explosion of digital adaptation in recent years alone. That is why there is a clear place for everyone and everyone in the digital marketplace – for social-sharers, content creators, information disseminators, fact gatherers…regardless of how you use and peruse the digital marketplace, the one likely fact remains that you do, in fact, use it.

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A very powerful “vendor” in this marketplace is found in the blog. Lifestyle blogs, fitness blogs, travel blogs, marketing blogs, inspirational blogs, and special-topic blogs. The blogs that exist in our digital marketplace are as unique and diversified as the marketplace itself. A few examples of blogs that I follow include:

The Londoner
The Happsters
Thought Catalog
CravesAdventure
MindBodyGreen
Skinny Mom
What Have We to Lose (my personal blog)
*And of course, all of the lovely blogs by my classmates on my Blogroll

Why, though, are blogs such a powerful tool in the business world? Blogs are flexible, relaxed representations of a company. Blogs are a place for information gathering and sharing, but also for questions. Blogs are thoughtful, and are one of the great assets to the marketing mix. Again, why? Because to a consumer, a blog is one of the strongest ways to connect with a brand.

From a consumer’s perspective, I love that I can visit a blog and get exactly the information I expect. I never have to search for information and filter through a variety of Google results. I know that when I visit MindBodyGreen, for example, I’ll be met with a plethora of fitness and nutrition tips that I can utilize. I know that the brand I’m connecting with has valuable information I need, all of which I can sift through, save, pin, share, like, tweet, or otherwise hang on to. I also love the intimate nature of a blog. The words are written by someone I feel connected to, through our common interests. I feel like I’m valued enough to read their specific words that they took the time to write. It’s a very personal experience, which only makes me a more loyal consumer. I’m all the more invested.

From a brand’s perspective, there are several advantages to managing a blog. From bettering skills as a writer, to expanding reach to new audiences, brand representatives can learn quite a few things (actually, 20 things) from implementing a blog. A blog is an inexpensive way to create a personal relationship with  consumers. Businesses can take advantage of the conversational nature of a written blog, which welcomes readers and strengthens consumer connection to the brand. Andrew Davies wrote a blog post that confirms this, saying “We all relish the personal touch, and this is no less the case when it comes to the marketing we are subjected to online.” When consumers feel they are receiving personal and pertinent information to them, they are much more likely to engage with that brand long-term. Additional advantages of blogging include building brand network and database, enhancing company visibility, increased product exposure, solidifying and enhancing brand identity, and optimizing your search engine efforts. All of these ideas are explicated here.

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I have a blog for my personal and professional life, and can speak directly to the truths of this post. Blogs are not only an excellent way to express your own thoughts and observations on life and work, but are an incredibly exciting “vendor” in our digital marketplace. We experience the familiarity of our social media favorites. Of course, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr etc. will always have a place in our everyday. Yet, a blog offers a slightly different experience. As both a consumer and a marketer, blogs are a vibrant representation of the digital world in which we live, interact, share, and learn.

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social butterflies.

In this day and age, we’re all somewhat of a social butterfly, thanks to the two social media giants that we all love so much: Facebook and Twitter. These two platforms truly are giants, and as the two most popular social platforms in the marketplace, they offer users valuable, but vastly different social experiences.

Facebook is the social site where users go to connect with friends and family members, connect with acquaintances, RSVP for events, support causes, “like” pages, post pictures and videos, share content, find hilarious memes, and keep up with the world in nearly every way imaginable. It’s also a place for businesses and organizations to disseminate information, build cause-campaigns, engage with consumers and fans, listen to trends, augment brand awareness, enhance brand perception, and Facebook has integrated every aspect of life, and has created a digital version of our communities – local, national, and global. The following infographic characterizes this idea:

Facebook Stats1

This infographic comes from an article entitled 13 Mind-blowing Facebook Statistics.

Follow the link to learn the other 12!

With obvious reason, the size of Facebook alone makes it an incredibly valuable tool for marketers. Consumers are constantly accessible, and conversations are no longer one sided. Where brands used to communicate to the silent masses, the masses are now given a voice to communicate back. Facebook exemplifies 699 million voices, all of which are engaging with each other and with the brands they support on a daily basis. And the site continues to grow as well. In just the last year, Facebook has grown in the following ways:

Facebook Stats2

Facebook is all about engagement. Connect with others; share content; post content. However it’s used, it’s all in the name of connectivity. So, how do you use Facebook? What can brands do better to make you, the consumer, feel more valuable and more engaged with them on this social platform?

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Now we turn to Twitter, which is equally embraced by our digital marketplace. Just as Facebook is about connectivity, Twitter is about information gathering and dissemination, and engaging with other information creators. The concept of the hashtag and the retweet speak directly to this idea, making information gathering even more simple through specific searches and tagging, and information sharing happen in the time it takes to retweet. With over 465 million Twitter accounts, and 175 million tweets per day, the potential that brands have to share and connect with consumers is enormous. What kind of content makes consumers willing to engage, favorite, or retweet? Check out the following infographic.

Print

Just like Facebook, Twitter is also a social site that bridges national boundaries and connects people across the globe. Actually, Twitter has even more relevance in our global culture, from my perspective. Take a look at the following Twitter statistics that really highlight this global nature:

Twitter Stats2

In 2011, co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, talks about the intent of this social platform. He got to a point when he realized “‘this was not just something in the Bay Area for technical geeks to fool around with and to find out what [they’re all] up to, but a global communications system that could be used for almost everything and anything,’ Stone says.”

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He continues to say

“People all around the world are realizing that we’re not just necessarily citizens of a particular state or a particular country, but citizens of the world. And this is a growing feeling, and I think that the Internet and social media tools are making the world a smaller place and allowing us to feel this empathy.”

This very truth is what makes our digital marketplace so exciting, and so valuable from a marketing perspective. Regardless of which platform you prefer, we are growing into a global world where we can connect and share. These social giants have transformed and continue to transform how we communicate; each makes our world seem bigger, making everyone accessible to everyone else. They also make our world seem a little smaller, too, instilling a digital sense of community and connection.

vendor to vendor.

market vendors

My analogy continues:

Just as a marketplace is made up of various vendors, the Digital Marketplace is comprised of “vendors” as well. Thus far, we have mentioned social media, photo/video-based media, mobile marketing, mobile app creation, blogs, mini-blogs, bookmarking sites – even though, a multitude of others exist.

Take a look at these two images that illustrate my thought:

The vastness of this seemingly unending list of new and evolving digital vendors leads me to discuss the idea of consistency. How do brands maintain consistent representation across the board? Carefully and strategically, I would assume. Brand management, as I’m quickly learning, is a multi-faceted task that involves effective communication, brainstorming, and execution from various brand representatives. While it was a relatively easy task to maintain brand consistency using only traditional media, the new and emerging media in our digital age require a much more stringent approach.

An article I read this week for class affirmed this notion that a brand’s presence is everywhere. Whether marketing a product, service, person, idea, or concept, the message conveyed must be consistent. The representation via web site must translate to the logo, the sales people, the promotional materials, the mobile screen, the email layout, and any other digital representation of the brand itself. It has to be integrated, otherwise, a consumer will lose faith and loyalty to the brand.

What can we do to reach true consistency? Let’s consider these four ideas:

brand consistency

It’s a lot of work and takes a lot of careful monitoring. But when you want consumers to keep coming back and visiting your presence among the marketplace, it’s worth it.

the digital marketplace.

The phrase “new and emerging media” has been rattling around in my brain for over a week now, all thanks to my stellar graduate school program and the course I’m currently taking! I have made great efforts to understand the symbolism of it. What does it look like? What are new and emerging media? Are they really new and emerging, or are they just adapting and evolving from day to day? Before understanding what these media look like, let’s just take a breather, and understand the world in which they live.

I look around during a typical day, and see those around me enveloped in a digital world – my location is irrelevant. Almost everywhere I go, I see someone, using some sort of digital device, to engage in this digital marketplace (hence my blog name). The evidence is pretty astounding, but I doubt many would dispute it. Go with me for a second…

Picture a marketplace. A crowd of various people, mixing and mingling in a space that is lively, thriving, and vibrant. It is booming with conversation, each individual bringing his or her own perspective to the group of those gathered.  Everyone is interacting and engaging with others, all the while perusing the assortment of products available. Sure, the products at any marketplace draw these people together – whether fruits and veggies, fish, fine crafts, artisan goods, art and photography, etc. What’s more powerful, though, is the experience that these people endure. Discussing, sharing, purchasing, tasting, witnessing, and learning. Each person has a unique function at that marketplace.

What happens when we view this special, creative, and adventurous experience and compare it to our digital world? Can it be compared? Of course it can!

Our digital world is made up of an enormous variety of media – platforms for social networking, career networking, information gathering, information sharing, bookmarking, writing, photography, videography, music… There are digital means for nearly every kind of engagement. It is truly a marketplace, and a vibrant one at that.

Blog Post Week 1Though we tend to call them “emerging” or “new” media, I think a better way to think about these media is to consider their purpose. They are created to engage, and engage to the fullest. Each has a slightly different function, but they are all of the same essence:  to augment the potential for interactivity. Virtual mixing and mingling.

The digital marketplace is thriving, growing exponentially, and evolving every minute of the day. People are learning and communicating, marketing and engaging, in ways that people years ago would have only dreamed of.  The good news is, we don’t have to wait for the market to open every Sunday to purchase some products or take part in the experience. The digital marketplace is all around us, available at nearly every fingertip, at any moment. How incredible is it that we get to witness this? Is this a positive or negative concept? Stay tuned!