December is the time of year when every strategist should be taking a step away from the day-to-day and giving a good hard look at the past year’s performance. After all, if you’re not paying attention to what has worked (or hasn’t worked) over the past 12 months, how are you going to know what to adjust in the months to come?
For 2017, here are 17 trends you should be paying attention to:
1. Interactive Content
There’s content you can read, and then there’s content you can interact with. The second variety tends to be more popular. For example, BuzzFeed’s “Which City Should You Live In?” quiz has been one of their home-run pieces. Think of ways to get readers to actively participate instead of passively consume. Interactive content can include assessments (such as the classic Cosmo Quiz setup), polls, surveys, infographics, brackets and contests.
2. Influencer Marketing
What’s more effective than an ad in selling your product? A lovable social media personality speaking highly about your product to his or her fans and followers. Influencer marketing is on the rise, because people tend to trust recommendations from people they see as thought leaders. The right influencers establish credibility through each social media post or advertisement. When they work with brands, it’s because they genuinely believe in them, and that trust is passed on to consumers.
3. Mobile Video
Have you looked at your Facebook feed recently? Chances are that 95% of it is video. And here’s a fun stat: mobile video views grew six times faster than desktop views in 2015. In fact, in Q4 of 2015, mobile video views exceeded desktop views for the first time ever. We now live in an age of mobile video, and it’s time we embraced it.
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Although we’re still working out the kinks of this technology, it’s clear that livestreaming will continue to push the boundaries. A big step in this direction was Instagram’s integration of a livestream option into its Stories feature. We’re going to see a lot more live broadcasts in 2017.
“When you think of chatbots, you probably think of an annoying popup on a website that looks like it was built in the mid ’90s,” says Adam Toren, founder of Young Entrepreneur and BizWarriors, a forum for entrepreneurs. He explains that chatbot technology has become much more sophisticated. A great example is the behemoth Facebook, which invests a significant amount of resources into bot programs that provide users with news updates, personalized responses and more. Are you talking to a human or a bot? If you can’t tell, then the bot is working as intended.
6. Virtual and augmented reality
One of 2016’s biggest highlights was watching a screen-afflicted population carry their mobile devices out into the world to catch, yes, Pokemon. The biggest takeaway from this phenomenon was augmented reality’s ability to drive real business results. This has become a seriously viable option for marketers looking to bring the online into the real world.
7. Short-lived content
What gives Snapchat its appeal? The fact that the content disappears. Snapchat’s rampant rise in popularity did a lot more for the world of social media than just give users another platform to choose from. It showed the value of disappearing or short-lived content. This is a key attraction for Generation Z, the cohort famous for having an eight-second attention span, and is why you should be integrating short-lived content into your content strategy.
8. Mobile First Strategy
The future is mobile. Internet traffic is now coming more from mobile devices than desktops. If you’re not catering your content, ads and online experience to a mobile user, then you are missing a massive opportunity. And remember: It’s not just about “optimizing” for mobile; it’s also about making sure that piece of content gets integrated with a user’s lifestyle on the go.
Personalization means segmenting your content to reach different types of audience members based on their preferences, habits, etc. The most common form of this strategy is through lists, where certain content gets sent to certain types of users based on which lists they’ve opted into. In a world of too much content and not enough time, personalization is a huge win for brands looking to earn the attention of their consumers.
10. Native Advertising
Viewers, followers and consumers are getting wise to the tricks of advertisers, and it’s becoming harder and harder to maintain their attention and earn their trust. Native advertising means integrating your advertising efforts into content that already provides value to readers and viewers. For this reason, it tends to be more effective. Look for ways to weave your products and offerings into a larger narrative, instead of just blasting people with ads.
11. Marketing Automation
Why do the same thing over and over again when you can do it once and automate the rest? Automation is becoming extremely powerful (and popular) among marketers and businesses who are looking to scale and expand past trading hours. As apps such as Marketo and Hubspot become more intuitive and affordable, automation will become more common.
12. Purpose Driven Marketing
One of the most effective ways to extend your story is to give it a feel-good element. Brands that partner with nonprofits or charities, or set up internal programs that “give back” in some way (TOMS shoes comes to mind) have a much stronger presence because their story resonates with the hearts of consumers.
13. Data Driven Marketing
There are two types of marketers: those who want to use what’s popular and those who use what works, regardless of whether it’s popular or not. Data tells you what’s really moving the needle, and the truth is that every marketer needs to be conscious of it. If you aren’t fluent in Facebook ads and conversion ratios, for example, then you’re missing a crucial part of every marketer’s essential toolbox.
14. Social Media “Buy” Buttons
We are moving into an age where purchasing doesn’t need to happen on a third-party site. Users are on a social platform, so why should they have to leave in order to buy something? “Buy” buttons are quickly turning social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest into social shopping experiences.
15. Dark Social
The hardest part about tracking traffic, conversions and shares is that you’re not always sure what the sources are. With the rise of encrypted and private messaging apps (where people still share lots of content with each other), you may want to invest in tools, such as Google Analytics and GetSocial.io, that can measure, to some degree, where this “dark” traffic is coming from.
16. Embrace The lOT
Should your thermostat talk to you? How about a refrigerator that informs you when you’re low on milk, and then gives you the option to place an order immediately? Everyday objects are beginning to connect to the internet, and this trend is going to open doors for brands and marketers to integrate with the everyday lives of consumers. Watch this trend closely, because it’s going to boom!
17. Beyond Viewability
Currently, most companies use viewability to measure to their success. Instead of solely focusing on views or clicks, companies should measure their ROI on things such as sign-ups, downloads and purchases. This requires going beyond CPMs and looking at the performance-based metrics instead.