As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to look forward to the digital trends that are on the horizon for 2018 and those that might be worth considering for your new marketing strategy.
We have witnessed tremendous evolution in the ways brands are connecting to audiences over the past 12 months, with video generating the best reach and engagement across all social media platforms. When planning your digital strategy for 2018, it’s important to keep these trends in mind to get the most from your online efforts.
Instagram Stories will continue to gain traction in the new year, with an emphasis on ephemeral video content (content which only lasts a short amount of time) that allows for real-time interactions between brands and audiences. The rise of chatbots on platforms like Facebook Messenger will make customer service more efficient, coupled with the predicted growth of social media advertising to allow for more niche-targeting options.
By paying close attention to this trend’s forecasts, you can best prepare yourself to stay ahead in the competitive digital landscape of 2018.
Growing prominence of Instagram Stories
This past year, we’ve witnessed the dramatic rise of Instagram’s Stories feature, and it’s set for additional growth in 2018. The use of Instagram Stories surpassed the use of Snapchat earlier this year to over 200 million people; meaning it’s time to start incorporating stories into your social media strategy.
What makes this functionality unique is its emphasis on real-time, ephemeral photo and video content. Instagram Stories last for just 24 hours, developing a sense of urgency for users to watch this content immediately before it disappears forever. Users do not want to miss out!
Software updates are likely to allow for even more new functionality such as graphics, filters, text overlays and emojis on Stories, enabling brands to connect with audiences in creative and innovative ways.
Stay ahead by creating a digital plan that takes advantage of the potential of Instagram Stories. Devise strategies on how to engage and inspire action from your audience, and consider ways to develop a consistent, authentic content that will keep your brand top of mind.
Streamline customer service with chatbots
In a digital climate of content overload, users will continue to seek personal interactions as we move into 2018. Facebook Messenger is set to hold huge potential for brands, offering real-time customer care that will simplify the relationship between businesses and clients.
Chatbots help businesses to immediately address questions and concerns from customers, facilitating live conversations that streamline the customer service experience. There are more than 100,000 chatbots currently active on Facebook Messenger, with this figure predicted to rise considerably in the new year.
The use of Facebook Messenger has grown substantially this year, hitting more than 1.3 billion users; over two billion messages are sent between businesses and consumers each month. Chatbots are providing a popular way for brands to have those one-to-one conversations in ways that feel private and personal for customers.
Video will continue to grow
There’s no denying that video has been a huge trend in 2017, and it is estimated that by 2019, over 80 per cent of all consumer internet traffic will come directly from video. Clearly, it’s time to make video production a key part of your digital strategy.
In today’s mobile-first culture, video is fast becoming the main method of consuming information, and social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram continue to emphasise the importance of video.
Live video is predicted to be particularly prominent in 2018, as audiences crave the authenticity of real-time connections to brands. Ensure you consider your overall business goals and align these with video strategy to produce content that resonates with your target audience.
Understand the importance of social advertising
Success on social media means allocating budget to your efforts. The cost of social media advertising is in part calculated based on how many businesses are targeting the audience you are trying to reach. Facebook now have more than 5 million advertisers, a testament to the importance and value of advertising online. However, growth in usage means growth in the cost, too. The time of organic reach is over, and businesses must prioritise social advertising to be seen by their audience.
New data from MAGNA (published by Marketing Charts) shows that digital has overtaken TV advertising sales in the US and forecasts that digital advertising will exceed offline ads by 2019. With this trend expected to be reflected in our market in the coming year, it’s time for businesses to capitalise on capacities of social advertising. Importantly, this is still an affordable advertising option for many small- to medium-sized enterprises, but this is likely to change with increasing competition.
Social advertising provides brands with the opportunity to connect to specific segments of the consumer market. In 2018, it’s predicted that social media platforms will allow for even more new targeting options that encourage businesses to advertise their content to highly niche audiences and tailored demographics.
Data regulation to impact email marketing
One of the most important trends of 2018 will be the introduction of new data regulations. From 25 May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect in Europe, set to have serious implications for businesses using data from citizens of the EU.
Essentially, the regulation impacts anyone who may have collected, stored, used or erased personal data from EU consumers. With email automation services such as MailChimp already flagging these changes with its users globally, marketers need to be well prepared for questions related to data privacy and data ownership.
Email marketing will also become a bigger focus in the new year, with brands concentrating more on data maintenance as social media marketing becomes more competitive. Email marketing is an industry estimated to be worth US$22.16 billion by 2025 (Source: Mail Bakery), meaning businesses must make it a focal point in 2018.