As the end of the year quickly approaches, it’s time to start planning your marketing strategy for a very futuristic and intriguing 2018!
We can all agree that there have been several significant, eye-opening and interesting stories in the realm of social and digital this past year. Notably POTUS taking on Twitter to communicate official statements (and majority of the time, rant), Facebook hijacking a large number of Snap-chat users to Instagram and announcing their very own social VR platform, ‘Spaces’ and Apple introducing a new way we interact with our mobile devices – among others.
In 2018, there will be even more disruption in the world of social and digital as a number of new tech advancements will go mainstream. The key objectives of brands is to connect with a variety of audiences using the social platform that suits them best. Year on year this has become challenging for brands to achieve due to the crowded social space along with consumer’s attention span dwindling to a mere 8 seconds.
Here are 10 key social and digital trends we believe will have the biggest impact on your social and digital strategy in 2018!
EPHEMERAL CONTENT WILL BE THE ‘NEW’ KING
When Snapchat first launched, many marketers were skeptical about the concept and the platform’s ability to play a role in marketing and advertising. Fast forward today there are over 200 million people on Instagram Stories each month, 50 million more than those who use Snapchat.
Why are Instagram Stories and Snapchat so popular? Because they offer what is called Ephemeral content. This type of content lasts for only 24 hours and then disappears forever.
Ephemeral content rose to fame in 2017 and shows no signs of slowing down. Brands interested in capitalizing on Ephemeral content must take the time to familiarize themselves on how to utilize the features available to them on Instagram Stories.
The fact that the content disappears after 24 hours may be a concern for marketers who spend a large amount of time and budget in developing the content and strategy. However, the reality is if the content is really interesting and resonates well with the target audience, ephemeral content could be your winning strategy in 2018.
Ephemeral content can create a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) effect which can drive audiences to take action, engage and even make a purchase. Additionally, short-lived content which involves a ‘behind the scenes look’, an exclusive with an influencer, a preview of upcoming projects and product launches for instance, can really generate buzz and excitement for the brand.
PERSONALIZED CUSTOMER SERVICE THROUGH AUTOMATION AND SMARTER BOTS
Social media has enabled marketers and brands to instantly connect and communicate with their customers through both dialogue (messaging) and monologue (posts and content). Nonetheless a survey by HeyWire Business found that 79% of customers are frustrated with their available customer support options and 31% said it was important for text to be an available support option.
This past year, several brands have implemented and tested chatbots as a way to automate customer service efforts and provide 24/7 services to their customers – however in 2018 the focus of chatbots, AI and machine learning will be heavily weighted towards delivering personalized and tailored customer service.
As chatbots become smarter and more human-like, brands will be able to customize the bots to suit their personality and offer a personalized customer service. Facebook reported that there are 100,000 monthly active bots on Facebook Messenger offering a wide range of services and millennials are among the top users that rely on chatbot-customer service.
The chatbot trend is not going to leave the digital marketing industry anytime soon and is only going to ramp up with the developments of AI research.
2018 is the year to experiment with Chatbots but its really important to consider your target audience. Chatbots may work really well with young audiences and millennials for instance, but may not resonate well with older users – so before you invest in a chatbot it’s best to test it out!
IT’S THE YEAR FOR AUGMENTED REALITY, VIRTUAL REALITY STEP ASIDE…FOR NOW
2017 was a pivotal year for Augmented Reality with Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook experimenting with the technology on their platforms allowing consumers to familiarize themselves with the concept. As we move into the new year, the use of augmented reality on mobile devices will skyrocket – Why? Because it’s quick, scalable, easy and extremely interactive.
With Apple announcing that their brand-new iPhone 8 and iPhone X has the capability to provide users with extraordinary augmented reality experiences, it is extremely likely that social media platforms will find ways to incorporate the technology as well as it becomes even more mainstream. This is already apparent with Snapchat rolling out their new AR feature allowing users to use their Bitmoji to do fun and quirky moves through the app’s camera.
To stand out of the crowd in 2018, brands with the capacity could allow users to project products on offer in their homes through special filters. An example of this is IKEA’s app that enables users to preview furniture in their home before making a purchase. This is a great way brands could leverage to add interactivity to the customer journey.
INFLUENCERS ARE JUST GETTING STARTED
This past year, we’ve talked a whole lot about influencers – it’s nothing new. Several brands have relied on influencers to connect with key audiences to convert sales, generate awareness and create buzz. Brands that opted for traditional advertising strategies struggled to engage with social media users and will continue to do so moving forward.
As more brands embrace influencer marketing as a way connect with audiences, it is becoming hard to know what is authentic. This authenticity is what consumers look for. What this means is that brands will need to build meaningful relationships with real influencers or industry experts who actually use the products or have relevancy. Additionally, a key driver for success in 2018 is enabling influencers to personalize the content they put out for brands.
Check out our previous blog post on working with micro-influencers and how influencer marketing is great for brand awareness
A SHIFT IN FOCUS FROM MILLENNIALS TO GENERATION Z
Born between 1995 and 2010. This consumer group marks a substantial shift that will affect all brands. These digital natives are different from millennials and they will have increased buying power in the near future.
In 2018 brands must shift their marketing strategies and invest in ephemeral content, influencer marketing, direct messaging strategies and quality video content in order to engage with them and grasp their attention.
Key platforms to keep an eye on when targeting this young and highly dynamic demographic? Snapchat and Instagram.
MOBILE MOBILE MOBILE
Yes, we’ve all heard it before – but in 2018, your brand will lose if you don’t leverage and optimize marketing strategies, websites and ads for mobile. It’s no secret that search engines are already penalizing websites that aren’t mobile friendly, and consumers ultimately spend much of their time scrolling on their mobile phones.
Google has also given priority to pages which are AMP optimized (Accelerated Mobile Pages). Bloggers and marketers who ensure that their content or landing page is generating results and converting should ensure that they are Accelerated mobile pages.
Smartphones and social media will go hand in hand next year. There is already data to back this up. In 2018, mobile video consumption is expected to grow by 25% and ad spending on mobile video will reach 18 billion dollars next year, surpassing desktop.
In other words, time spent watching video has already pivoted to mobile.
Another key driver for this trend is that mobile-only apps such as Instagram and Snapchat are where digital natives are spending a majority of their time on. Additionally, several social networks provide striking call-to-action buttons on their mobile advertising template which generates more conversions than web platforms.
What does this mean for your marketing strategy moving forward? It’s obvious, hone your marketing strategies to attract mobile users.
BRANDS WILL GO HYPERLOCAL
In 2018, brands should ‘think local, act global’
Putting a local focus in marketing strategies offers a personalized experience for consumers in a particular region, country or city. With the likes of Facebook Local and Google Posts, brands and influencers are able to share key events and marketing material in a very targeted manner.
With all these local developments and opportunities, brands will strive to get their location rankings in all search results and local social media pages. This will also enable brands to reach audiences they couldn’t have targeted otherwise.
As big brands will go hyperlocal in 2018, this means that local businesses will quickly need to onboard on their digital marketing activities as soon as possible in order to stand their ground and compete with big brands!
TRANSPARENCY WILL BECOME THE MAKE OR BREAK FACTOR
Yes, we know – this term has been yelled, blasted and posted on social throughout this entire year.
Moving forward in 2018, transparency and trust will be a huge deal in the customer’s decision-making process and there will be zero-tolerance for fake news and reviews, or in other words over exaggerated marketing.
Social media platforms are encouraging consumers to review businesses, apps and pages. A couple bad reviews can really break your marketing strategy, image and sales. It’s important for marketers to invest and allocate time towards community management and keeping their online community engaged, informed and happy.
Foster transparency in 2018 and you will be rewarded.
CONTENT MARKETING WILL BECOME MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER BEFORE
As the social and digital space becomes even more clustered, brands will need to think outside the box and become as creative as ever to stand out and differentiate their messages. This involves utilizing a wide range of content formats along with a/b testing to find which content strategy works best for the brand.
Quality and the production value of content will also play a major role in differentiation and attracting a more engaged and interested audience. More-over there will be a pivot from short to long-form content and video. Despite consumer’s attention spans lasting for just a matter of seconds, provided that the content is of great quality, interesting and shareable – audiences are willing to consumer lengthier content on social media
This trend is backed by Facebook Watch’s ‘shows pages’ which encourages creators to make long-form videos, episodic series and assets to drive conversation and engagement. It’s also worth noting that Facebook’s investment to include 4K Ultra HD video on it’s platform is a sign that brands will need to get serious about video content in 2018.
LIVE VIDEO WILL CONTINUE TO SOAR
Live video is not a new phenomenon and is growing exponentially – Facebook and Instagram are leading in the Live Video space and have plans to further increase the quality of streaming.
What’s more interesting is that live-streaming isn’t just popular with marketers. People love consuming live video too. Just like ephemeral content, live video can create the FOMO effect, generating buzz, excitement and a sense of urgency to engage. According to Facebook, live video gets 3x more views and this is expected to dramatically increase in 2018.
This year brands have utilized live videos for a number of different purposes. They have used live video at events to give followers a behind-the-scenes look, hosted interviews with key brand endorsers and influencers, show off new products and launched promotions and they have even used live videos to introduce their workplace.
There are endless opportunities for live video content and the fact is that live video is very easy and convenient to set up as there are no edits necessary. All you need is a plan, key message, and your mobile device!
And there you have it, the 10 social & digital trends to capitalize on to win in 2018. In the realm of social and digital that is fast moving and constantly changing, it’s not only important to stay on top of these trends but it’s also imperative to react with what is working well with your brand’s audience and community.
Manit Sethi is a Social & Digital Executive at Vero, orchestrating creative digital strategies for brands and developing killer content that excels on social.