With Mobile taking over Desktop engagement throughout the last year, Social Media advertising seeing its peak performance as well as new technologies being mass-adopted for creating Omnichannel targeted and personalised interactions between brands and customers, it is clear things are changing when it comes to Digital Marketing. Below are the top picks to consider when planning your 2018 Marketing communications strategy, as well as the emerging opportunities to keep an eye out when looking at maximising your results.
1. Video will continue to be “Hot” on the popularity scale
While 2017 was announced to be the “Year of Video”, this is surely foreseen to see a continuous growth going into 2018. Engagement on Social Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram has been exponentially growing, and the users are now more accustomed than ever to joining “Live Streams”, interact real-time and share video content. Moreover, Facebook Native Video Embedding will benefit from the biggest reach potential when it comes to the platform’s algorithms of “showing content”, which can definitely be an opportunity for brands to engage further, mainly as Facebook is preparing to put constraints on the communications from companies to their customers.
Another big opportunity is Youtube, which has seen a strong refresh during last year, strengthening its position as the second most-used search engine after Google. This can be a great place for brands to engage with customers by educating them into understanding and using their products, as well as creating informative videos about the industry - which would allow a company to step into the position of “opinion leader” in the eyes of its potential customers.
Pro tip: For both Facebook and Youtube, Total View Time is the number 1 metric that is being analysed when it comes to the video relevance and its chances to appear in search results. This is especially important for Youtube, as it shows the number of Views and Subscribers come in after this filter. A consideration to take away from this is, therefore, making longer yet insightful videos and try to keep visitors on the channel as much as possible by referencing alternative videos that might fit their interests.
2. The Facebook algorithm changes and increases in the Social Media Advertising Prices.
Going into 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced the Facebook algorithms are due to suffer yet another change, which will, in theory, enable users to see more “relevant” posts on their news feed from friends and “real” people. From another perspective, what this means is the chances of posts from companies and brands to appear in the users’ news feeds will decrease, businesses therefore having to rely on paid advertising to drive traffic and engagement on their Social profiles. As Facebook, as well as LinkedIn or Google are in essence markets, and the price of advertising is correlated to the competition it is on each market, it can be deducted that during this year we will see an increase in advertising spend on Social Media, together with a rise in prices mainly on Facebook, which will automatically impact Instagram too (as the two platforms are now under the same corporate umbrella). With this beings aid, however, Facebook and Instagram still remain some of the most powerful Online Advertising tools, with highly advanced targeting and filtering mechanisms - definitely a Must-have component of your Integrated Marketing Strategy. Read more about Marketing Strategy planning here.
Pro Tip: To fight against this and keep your messages and engagement high despite the changes, a good strategy could be producing viral content as well as using User-Generated Content to promote engagement from customers directly. This will increase your messages’ “Relevance” and boost your chances to reach new audience.
3. Crypto Currency to enter the Social Media and Media industries.
While this is a more long-term view, it is still something to consider and keep an eye on in the next months. Following the big “boom” that Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin have seen in 2017, followed by a depreciation of Bitcoin in January 2018, there has been a strong focus shift in the past 2 months towards “Altcoins” - smaller coins that use Blockchain to monetise users and enable transactions. While there is a lot of research to be done for understanding the functionality of each coin, in a nutshell each Alton has a business project behind. Each time a person purchases an Alton such as IOTA, Ripple or NEO (to name some of the more popular ones) they become part of the project while owning a certain number of “coins”. Find out more here.
There have been numerous Altcoins (and projects) produced for multiple industries, however, some of the very new ones that gained media attention and investment are Steemit and onG Social. What these propose are alternative Social Media platforms, where users get paid for viewing ads and become owners of their content (while in traditional Social media such as Facebook or Twitter, the user no longer owns the content when they post on the platform). While Steemit claims to pay users for the engagement and “attention” they earn on the platform, onG Social proposes a payment model described as a ratio of the money the platform earn from advertisers when the user sees an ad. Read Coindesk’s opinion on Steemit here. Both of these are very new projects and it’s still a long way to them becoming fully functional and furthermore mass-adopted, but it’s clear things are changing and there will definitely be opportunity for businesses to a advertise and reach customers in new ways in the future.
4. Omnichannel Marketing & Technology
Creating a Single Customer Persona and offering each consumer a tailored journey by mapping their online and offline behaviour in a single data point has? been a big focus from marketers in the past years. Last year has seen the highest degree of technology being integrated into Marketing Communications as well as AI being incorporated by more savvy brands for differentiating themselves and engage with customers in new ways. What has happened, though, is customers became more educated in therm of how they are being communicated with too, which raised their expectations from brands wanting to maintain relationships with them. A must for brands that are not yet up to speed for this year is raising their digital game and take advantage of the Marketing Automation technology available in order to increase sales, customer lifetime value as well as retention. The most important solutions related to Omnichannel will be Product recommendations and banners in E-Commerce, as well as Email marketing and targeted ads. Ideally, a brand should have all the data gathered through these channels and from the customer interactions with the website aggregated together with the Social media advertising tools and in-store data (in available), therefore creating a Single Customer View and engaging with them through the best channels, at the best time, with the right message.
Pro Tip: If you haven’t already, an action that you can take today is start cleaning your database and think of a strategy to increase both your Email list as well as the data you gather about each of your customers and website visitors, and start mapping it in order. You will then be able to use this for starting your Email marketing campaigns as well as (depending on the size and complexity of your data) target them and create look-alike segments on Social Media.
In a nutshell, these are a few of the exciting things that happened in the past months and are likely to have an impact in 2018. There are, of course, many other developments that take place and are shaping the customers’ behaviour, which a brand should not only follow but also continuously adapt to. This year, make sure you stay up-to speed with the industry and have the best understanding regrading where your customer’ attention is, then enable the best tools on these channels for engaging and offering value to them
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