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Trends, Tipping Points & Cultural Scouts, Oh My!

Monday, August 27th, 2012 by Erin Peters

The face of digital marketing is constantly changing—so quickly, in fact, that it might seem impossible for the average business owner to keep up.

But if you’re not keeping an eye out for the latest digital trends, your marketing strategy is doomed to be outdated and unsuccessful. Trends not only influence and change our culture, but ultimately define successful marketing strategies, too.

We can look at social media’s impact on sharing news and information as a prime example. Twitter, especially, has not only changed how news breaks but also how the public discusses events. From the 2011 Iranian Protests and Occupy Wall Street Movement to the more recent 2012 London Olympics and the infamous “NBCfail” hashtag, Twitter offers a way for users to engage an audience and inspire live conversations with very real results.

While some might still think Twitter is just a fad, smart marketers have been successfully utilizing Twitter for years to build brand awareness, engage customers and take control of their message. Airline companies like Delta and United use Twitter to resolve customer service issues in a public forum, while brands like Fresh and Easy use the platform to have honest conversations with customers.

Other brands like Google are capitalizing on the interactive trend in web development and digital marketing by creating their own trends. Let’s be honest: You’ve probably sacrificed a little productivity here or there to play with Google’s interactive Doodles, whether you created guitar riffs on the addictive Les Paul Doodle or competed against your friends on the 2012 London Olympics Doodles.

These trendy Doodles might seem like they’re all fun and games but they’re actually brilliant marketing tools, too. The Les Paul Doodle allowed users to record and share videos of themselves playing with the Doodle, encouraging users to spread the word. And the 2012 London Olympics Doodles spread like social wildfire as users dared their friends to beat their scores.

As Google users talked about these Doodles and shared their videos and scores with their networks, they unknowingly became brand ambassadors, a priceless tool for any digital marketing strategy.

So how does a social media platform like Twitter or a search engine like Google reach critical mass and change the way we approach everyday tasks like communicating or searching the web? According to acclaimed author Malcolm Gladwell, ideas, trends and behaviors spread like wildfire when they cross a certain threshold known as the tipping point.

And once a new idea, trend or behavior reaches the tipping point, a whole new world of marketing opportunities opens up for early adopters.

Let’s look at mobile devices. Smart phones and tablets have not only reached the tipping point but have created new mobile standards for web developers and digital marketers. Digital marketers can’t afford not to go mobile today, and neither can savvy business owners.

Likewise, social image sharing platforms Instagram and Pinterest have not only reached the tipping point but have also changed how businesses engage their customers. Now, if you’re in a visual industry such as fashion or graphic design, your business can’t afford not to have a presence on these photo sharing platforms. Even if your business isn’t maintaining a presence on these outlets, you can rest assured your competitors are.

And more importantly, your potential customers are diving into the latest digital trends, too. If you’re not keeping up with digital innovations and applying them to your marketing strategy, your brand isn’t where your customers are.

So how can busy business owners find the time to scour the Internet to keep up with every new application and marketing trend while still finding time to run a business? We’ll let you in on a little secret—you don’t need to follow every digital development. You just need to identify and follow a quality group of cultural scouts.

Who are the cultural scouts?

Whether they’re 13 or 31, cultural scouts are smart people and innovative thinkers. They influence and change our culture by seeking out the worthiest new digital developments and bringing them to the masses through social media. While celebrities, stylists and PR professionals once defined what was cool or trendy, today we look to the cultural scouts to search for what is buzzworthy.

And if you and your business want to stay ahead of the trends before they tip, you’ll need to rely on an arsenal of cultural scouts. Luckily, these influencers can easily be found throughout social media sites like Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. You just need to click “Follow.”

Trends, tipping points and cultural scouts, oh my! What does it all mean for you, the business owner?

Simply this: If you’re not keeping up with trends as they approach their tipping points, or if you don’t have a stable of cultural scouts doing the legwork for you, you’re missing valuable marketing opportunities—and potential revenue.

If your business is stuck in print newspaper ads and outdated websites, you’re focusing marketing efforts where your customers aren’t hanging out. And marketing mistakes like that can cost you thousands of dollars in lost business opportunities.

But if you’re staying ahead of the trends, watching for tipping points and listening to your cultural scouts, you can find out where your customers will be tomorrow—and be there waiting for them.

By staying up-to-date on the latest trends, you can effectively position your business as an influencer in your industry. Rather than being a follower constantly struggling to catch up with the latest marketing trends, your business will be seen as a forward-thinking trendsetter—and who doesn’t want that?

If you need help identifying the latest trends and translating them into profit for your business, get in touch. Graphtek’s team of savvy digital marketing experts will show you how a forward-thinking digital marketing strategy can boost your company’s bottom line.


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