It seems that new digital communication platforms emerge on a yearly basis. The 1990s saw the rise of web forums, chat rooms, and instant messaging, while the 2000s provided grounds for social media sites, streaming media, new forms of animated pop-ups, and device targeting. As consumers’ needs change, technology changes along with them, spurring the growth and evolution of digital communication platforms. In order to better utilize these platforms, it can be helpful to group them into categories.
Streaming video and audio platforms, like Soundcloud, iTunes, Spotify, and Youtube, are designed to store and play a large volume of media while providing users with on-demand access to content. Streaming media has become so popular that all major TV and radio channels now offer a streaming option. Some of these platforms provide an open-market approach to digital communication, whereby individuals, organizations, and advertisers all have the opportunity to contribute to the platform. Some of these platforms involve licenses or membership fees, while others remain free. Regardless, all streaming media outlets use digital tagging to track user behaviour, which can be used to recommend content and target advertisements. These platforms also allow for “viral” communication, whereby users can spread messaging through sharing and re-posting.
User-Generated & User-Curated Content Platforms
Blogs, vlogs, dating profiles, Pinterest boards, and social media pages may all be classed as “user-generated” or “user-curated” platforms. On these digital communication platforms, individual users post personal content, or, share content that is in line with their taste. These platforms provide a unique advantage to advertisers, allowing “word-of-mouth” promotion to market a product or service. Additionally, these platforms usually sell advertising space in the form of web-banners, promoted posts, and video ads, that marketers can purchase to promote their campaign. “Influencers”, or bloggers with a large amount of followers, are particularly important on digital communication platforms. Their pages may sometimes serve as a marketing channel, and can instill more trust in customers than traditional advertising.
Direct Messaging Platforms
Direct messaging platforms include email, text message campaigns, and other digital communications that use a direct-to-consumer approach to spread their message. The scope of this platform exceeds marketing purposes- email and text message communications are increasingly used by governments, companies, and public agencies to share and collect information. These platforms successfully deliver information to a specific individual or group of people, and can be targeted by an event, purchase, time of day, or other strategic elements. Direct messaging is one of the strongest forms of digital communication, but it does require personal information, like email addresses and phone numbers, to be implemented.
Digital Display Platforms
Digital billboards are a less interactive form of digital communication, but are gaining grounds in areas where print media was traditionally used. From doctor’s office waiting rooms to Times Square displays, the latest display screens can show animations, live video feeds, and can be programmed to respond to updates. Digital displays can promote communication in public spaces, and have the advantage of being easily updated.
Digital platforms constantly evolve to meet the needs and preferences of our society and its developing technologies. Keep in mind, when it comes to the world of digital communication, the only constant is change.