Digital Marketing Trends: What’s Hype? What’s Reality?

I am struggling to figure out what I’m going to write about. After all, this is digital and it is supposed to be full of new, exciting, and groundbreaking stories all the time. So, inspired by a chat with fellow ClickZ Asia columnist Mike Zung from Bite over coffee (which I was asked to pay for), I am going to write about why I’m struggling to figure out what to write about.

And here is why: in our industry, you have to know where you stand between hype and reality. At this moment, in my humble opinion, there is a lot of hype out there. Therefore, a grounded digital marketing professional like me will think there is nothing much to talk about.

Having made such a statement, I am obliged to share with you what I think is hype and what is reality.

Hype – Location-based service platforms

Introduced by Foursquare in the U.S. who pioneered the concept of ‘check-in’, LBS platforms are basically social networking on-the-go, with updates tied to your location. The concept has great long-term potential, as it is the missing link between the online world and retail point of sales. However, I think this is currently a hype because it is far from being a mature social networking model and remains fragmented, with many clones popping up in different markets (there are at least five Foursquare-like platforms in China such as Bafang, Bedo, Jiepang, Kaikai, and Qieke. Approach with caution.

Hype – Cross-platform app

Don’t get me wrong, the day will come when we need to build applications for all the platforms there are, and that day is fast approaching, but it is not here yet. You’ll know that day has arrived when you hear about another phone that is talked about as much as the iPhone.

Reality – iPhone app

Beyond website and Facebook fan page, your digital presence should include an iPhone App. You can’t argue with the numbers – penetration and usage of the iPhone is very high. If you don’t get on the iPhone, you will miss a lot of potential time to interact with your target.

Reality – Social networking

Social networking is definitely a phenomenon that is here to stay, when Facebook is connecting 1/12 of the world population, and becoming the top entry page ahead of Google in many markets. Having a page on a key social network of your market (most likely Facebook) as part of your brand’s digital presence has proven to be a cost effective way to establish direct contact with your consumers and to engage with them, drive loyalty, and effectively push promotions.

What is hype one day can become a reality the next, and the art is to spot the right time to do the right thing in order to achieve practical results. As these are my subjective views, I like to hear what your thoughts are, and what you think is hype or reality.

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