The world of social media is constantly shifting and evolving. As such, marketers need to keep up with the trends to stay effective. A number of game-changing technologies and new ways to interact with customers emerged in 2016, and 2017 promises to be just as revolutionary. Keeping up with trends is difficult in itself, but brands who can manage to predict and anticipate trends can achieve incredible exposure. Here are some of the major digital marketing trends for 2017:
Greater usage of live video
While Mark Zuckerberg called 2016 the year of video on Facebook, it seems that 2017 is when marketers will need to start harnessing the power of tools like Facebook Live. Some people may look at live video as a fleeting trend, but it seems like real-time sharing is here to stay. Companies can make use of this technology in a variety of ways and give their customers an in-depth, unscripted look into operations. Marketers have already used the tools for hosting Q&A sessions, covering live events, and giving viewers behind-the-scenes looks at production processes.
More interaction between digital and physical worlds
The next step in experiential marketing is connecting the digital world to the physical. For instance, Facebook’s “Store Visits” drives and tracks consumers’ purchases at brick-and-mortar stores through location-based mobile ads and GPS tracking. While this is just one way of bridging the online and offline gap, as our world becomes increasingly digitized, it is more important than ever for companies to create integrated campaigns that provide a unified message. This will likely encourage revolutionary ways of appealing to target demographics online and in person, becoming the new standard for the customer experience.
The rise of dark social
Marketers have been so focused on targeting customers through social media that they have forgotten about dark social. The term “dark social” refers to communication that cannot be measured, such as through e-mails, texts, and instant messenger programs. New estimates show that more than 80 percent of sharing actually takes place in dark social, so it is important for brands not to ignore these communication modalities. Some companies, such as Adidas, have already begun campaigns to break into dark social and get a better sense of their demographics by creating localized WhatsApp communities.
An emphasis on augmented reality
Another way of making marketing experiential is through the use of augmented reality. While both virtual reality and augmented reality emerged as important technologies in 2016, only the latter is easily accessible by the average consumer. More companies may start making use of augmented reality capabilities to appeal to customers and drive interaction. Everything from 360-degree video to immersive worlds, such as with Pokémon Go, fall under the umbrella of augmented reality.
More reliance on micro-influencers
For years, marketers have used influencers to reach new groups of potential customers and demonstrate their brand and its values more effectively. Moving forward, influencers will remain important, but micro-influencers will become even more critical for success. A micro-influencer is a brand advocate with a degree of authenticity not present with larger influencers. Typically, these individuals are not celebrities, but they have become important personalities in particular circles and have the potential to reach anywhere from 500 to 10,000 potential customers with the click of a button. Engaging with micro-influencers expands influence and demonstrates that the company values the particular community targeted.
Increased expectations surrounding customization
People want products and their marketing to be directly relevant to their lives. Marketers strive to customize a marketing experience to create an emotional appeal to the customer, but what brands simply offered individuals greater choice? In 2017, it is likely that more companies will focus on customizable products and marketing. Tools that let customers build their own products, for example, are almost like games, and they can make people feel emotionally invested enough to purchase the final product. With a greater emphasis on immersive marketing, even advertisements could become interactive by letting customers make choices and influence the trajectory of the experience. This customization could be integrated with augmented reality—even live video if the company asks watchers to vote on what happens next.
Smarter paid promotion services on social media networks
While it is possible for brands to use a wide range of social media networks without paying, the tools available to paying customers are set to get even smarter. With next-generation analysis, sites are better able to customize experiences and judge the type of content that users want to see. For example, Facebook has a new functionality that tracks how much of a video ad a user watched to gauge interest and present content more aligned with what he or she wants to see. These tools will become more popular in 2017 and provide impressive returns for the brands that choose to invest in them.