Every year brings with it a range of crazy trends, from kale smoothies to glitter beards, there's always some bizarre bandwagon for people jump on. While social trends can be a lot of fun for brands to use across their marketing, they aren't the main thing you need to be looking out for as we head into a new year.
[Image credit: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert]
Digital marketing is constantly changing, meaning marketers need to be ready to keep up and move with it or risk having their brand left behind. Maintaining pace with the industry, if not staying ahead of it, will ensure you don't miss out on opportunities that certain trends present.
Being able to plan ahead, anticipate how the industry is going to change and being flexible enough to make the most of emerging trends ahead of your competitors will set you up to succeed in 2017.
To help you be ready for the next year, here are our predictions for the biggest marketing trends of 2017:
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The Pokemon Go effect
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last six months, you'll know that Pokemon Go has taken over the world a little bit. While the hype has calmed down more recently, there's no denying that this game is the true start of augmented reality (AR).
Not only has the game proven that consumers are very much ready for AR, it has also shown digital marketers that there is money to be made in this area. With Pokemon Go still being popular and more companies working on AR offerings, there are a lot of opportunities to use this trend to your benefit.
On top of this, actually creating AR advertisements, apps and games that showcase your brand's values can help to put you ahead of the curve - at least for a while, as this is one trend that is likely to be everywhere as we usher in 2018.
[Image credit: BBC]
Consistent engagement not just aquisition
Driving new users has been a big part of digital marketing for the last few years, with brands putting a lot of stock in increased awareness and the number of new people heading to their site and social profiles. However, new users only do so much, which is why retention is the big word for 2017.
Rather than trying to get the number of likes and followers clicking up, the new year needs to be about your existing audience. Improving engagement among those who have already read a blog, followed you on Facebook or taken a look at your site will help to increase conversion.
Adjusting your marketing strategies so they are aimed at getting people to return can help to create brand loyalty, greater word of mouth and ultimately more sales. Now that's going to impact your bottom line a lot more than the number of unengaged Twitter followers you have.
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Video is king
We all know that video is a great way to improve engagement among both B2B and B2C customers. Not only do 92 per cent of B2B customers watch online video, 34 per cent of consumers admit to being more likely to purchase a product after watching a video advertisement online.
Video is already becoming more important across social media, with autoplay helping to increase engagement when people are scrolling through feeds and live video streaming becoming more of a trend in itself.
While video has been growing in popularity and importance year-on-year, the ability to go live on Facebook, the availability of more advanced mobile devices and faster internet suggest that 2017 is going to be the true start of live streaming and increase the importance of video.
Short videos can provide information so much faster than written content, with a higher proportion of people trusting something they have seen on film. If you aren't already utilising this tool, you need to get on it for the new year - and if you can get a brand video to go viral, that's even better.
[Image credit: Guy Trefler]
Social needs more than posts
The growing popularity of social media means that users are looking for a more varied experience from each platform - although Twitter is likely to become less important during 2017 due to increased fatigue.
People want more varied experiences from brands on social media, so images, text posts and links are no longer going to be enough and definitely won't make you stand out from the crowd. Your social strategy for the new year should be all about allowing followers to enjoy vicarious experiences, making them feel like part of your brand.
There are now more ways than ever to do this, all of which improve engagement and are likely to help you retain existing customers. Using live posting, streaming, videos, 360 images and other tricks you have up your sleeve will ensure your brand's social posting is more interesting and inclusive.
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Make every word count
The huge amount of content available online, on websites, social media and video streaming sites has caused us to develop shorter attention spans than ever; something that is only going to get worse as new trends emerge. This means that people are less likely to engage with huge chunks of text, never making it to the bottom of a blog if it can't hold their interest.
Content has become a bit like white noise and we're all guilty of giving it only a small amount of attention or ignoring it completely unless it can really grab our attention and hold onto it. This means that 2017 is going to be the year of making every single word count.
It isn't enough to have a great headline and some high quality images interspersed with text, you need to make your content as dense as possible and cut out the filler to ensure you get your message across.
This doesn't mean you should switch to listicles from blogs though, as the right content strategy can ensure you know your audience, their interests and how to hold their attention while still putting across your brand's voice and values.
While these trends are set to emerge next year, others will also develop over the course of the next 12 months, so make sure your brand is ready and flexible enough to make the most of them.