2017 has been a big year for marketers. New updates, legislation implementation and algorithm changes have meant it is now harder than ever to get to page one of Google for your business’ key terms.
One of this year’s biggest trends was the shift towards the importance of content; genuine engaging stories placed in relevant authoritative news outlets and on your website to capture your audience’s and Google’s attention. But what’s next?
Building your brand through your people.
More and more PR’s are now looking in-house for content, utilising and promoting talent from within organisations to produce genuine and authentic stories for press purposes.
This feeds Google’s thirst for original and engaging content, but also uplifts the external perception of your organisation for being a market leader and having the best employees.
Moving forwards, companies should branch and dig into their different departments and audiences; HR, logistics, marketing and facilities management - they all have their own industry news hubs and publications to target and reach out to for press coverage.
Creating consumer trust
The public knows when they are being advertised to. This year, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has clamped down on advertisers and influencers, and now requires them to clearly label paid-for content.
The public are wising up to adverts and appreciate genuine content now more than ever. This amplifies the importance of public relations in 2018 and beyond; companies will have to earn those placements through building relationships rather than simply handing over cash.
There is an old saying: "advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for." It’s true, but executing and achieving an amazing public relation strategy is not easy. PR coverage comes with a stamp of approval from editors because they are genuinely backing your brand and the stories you are telling.
That is why genuine press coverage is trustworthy and will always hold more credibility than adverts alone. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why PR should be a central part of your strategy for 2018.
The rise of ephemeral content
2017 saw an influx of new content strategies hitting our screens, content that disappears after a certain time period. Snapchat paved the way with this style of content, and its success has seen brands across the world taking note and investing time and effort into developing their ephemeral strategy.
It gives marketers the chance to engage with their audience in ways other platforms don’t, and the authenticity of this content hooks users in ways others can’t, especially the ever-growing Generation Z. With this in mind, brands who haven’t yet researched and developed their content strategy to incorporate this should be considering it in 2018.
Unlocking the darker side of social
As apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger evolve, the darker side of social is set to grow and brands should be considering this when putting together objectives and analysing their results. The fear of being judged on social media can be a huge pain point for marketers. As users share content in group messages, privately, brands lose the ability to accurately track shares and engagement, and instead tend to focus on vanity metrics instead of what’s also happening behind closed doors.
As more and more brands put time and money into social campaigns, they should be delving that little bit deeper into analytics to understand how that content is exactly being shared. If 90% of traffic came directly to that landing page, it’s unlikely that users have typed it in exactly, word for word, and therefore tends to mean users have been sharing and engaging with the campaign, just not as publically as others.
Video killed the written star
Video. Video. Video. It’s something that is spoken about every single day, by marketers around the world, but there’s a good reason for that. As social media grows and we veer towards a mobile first world, video will continue to take the forefront. Content can be consumed in a different way, and it gives brands the chance to get creative and think outside of the box.
From advertising formats to live streaming, there are an array of ways marketers can incorporate video into their digital strategies; from real-time behind the scenes footage on YouTube to shopable videos that appear on Instagram. But whilst there are handfuls of different ways video can be used, brands need to be careful they’re not doing video, for videos sakes.
Time and money should be invested into what’s worked already, what the competition is up to and what audience members are actually engaging with and in 2018, we’ll begin to see more and more companies understand what makes their users tick and really capitalise on this.
Influencer marketing, not just a buzzword
Influencers have been around for a while. It’s not necessarily a new tactic, as if you delve into the advertising archives you’ll see the likes of Marilyn Monroe working with beauty brands to promote products and the more modern day Gary Linaker as the face of Walkers. However, the impact and the effect influencer marketing has is changing thanks to the growing popularity of social channels and their users.
By working with social celebrities, brand can allow direct conversations to take place with authentic content that can often be the fraction of the price of a fully-integrated advertising campaign. These influencers have their own niches and have built up a following of interested and engaged users, so it would be silly of brands to miss out on this opportunity,
They do however need to recognise the importance of working with influencers to go beyond the realms of teeth whitening and hair growth products. Brands need to build meaningful relationships with these individuals to ensure the right message is being promoted to the right audience, on the right channel.
A change in data collection
2018 will see the hot topic of 2017 actually come into effect, as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) hits the live button. By simplifying and improving data protection for EU citizens and businesses, it’s changing the way companies approach and consume data collection, meaning we’re in for a change in 2018.
The collection of data has to be relevant to its intention and users have to have their right to be forgotten honoured. A pre-ticked box will no longer cut it, there has to be a clear and concise reasoning as to why brands require their information and the control is in their hands, if they want their information removed because there’s no legitimate reason to process their information, it’s been unlawfully processed or they withdraw their consent from the original terms, then they have the right to do so.
So, in 2018 we expect to see strategies shifting to opt-in from opt-out. Any information that’s gained from campaigns or competitions can only be used for that purpose, unless the data subject has given their consent, meaning marketers will need to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to customer communication; creating more meaningful conversations that are centred on the individual and their needs.
So as social media continues to grow, and digital transformation continues to take off, we’re exciting for what experiences are to come in 2018, and you can find out what else we think is in store for social, by reading our 2018 Social Trends blog post!