We’ve reviewed five emerging applications — Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, GroupMe and Pheed. The applications were chosen because they are all growing users at a rapid pace, represent real-time engagement capability through highly responsive social-mobile channels, and, with the right use case, represent a big opportunity for digital marketers to reach customers with new types of interactions through new channels yet to be fully explored by the competition.

The note dives into what they are, who their users tend to be, how marketers can use them, what challenges to be aware of and how to get started. Multiple analysts contributed to the research, and for me it was one of the more fun pieces for the year. Emerging technology and techniques still in the learning and discovery stage of adoption offer a glimpse into potential megatrends pushing the market forward.  Gartner For Marketing Leaders clients can read the full research here.

Most important of the findings is to have a direction for a business outcome in mind, matched by an appetite for agility in a fluid environment.  Even the applications themselves are trying to figuring that one out. New technologies are coming at digital marketers all the time and consumers’ preferences for them change. Establishing a direction for a future business outcome, even if not available in the short term, will have a much better chance of choosing the right emerging application(s) and keep the project funded.

For these five, just an initial heading towards a purpose like brand awareness can help marketers start to handicap which ones to potentially use.  For example, will you be blanketing a wide audience for maximum reach or creating a more intimate, exclusive type campaign? This will mean different apps.  Which apps, through social, photos, video or all three, will lead customers to a purchasing decision that you can measure?

Digital marketers should approach these applications as emerging and potentially disposable. None of these these apps are natively mandatory to your organization. Some of these apps may either go stellar over the next few years, while others in the space will essentially disappear in less than eight months. This means that marketers must adopt an innovation/experimentation with purpose approach to them all, including the risk that a measurable business outcome, even with a calculated heading towards one, may never transpire.

Welcome to the digital world.


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