Curated Predicts: Trends to look out for in 2018

It’s a new year, and 2018 has come around even quicker than we thought the last one did. As is tradition, it’s time to get our tinfoil hats on and start speculating about what we think the year will have in store for us. We already wrote a little about what we think were the biggest trends were in 2017 (did someone say AI?) and based on what we think is going to be big in digital this year we’ve curated a little list.

Once again, content is king.

Yeah, we know content is not a new thing – far from it. In fact, it is one of the key staples of digital marketing and thus continues to crop up on so many prediction lists. The way we create content, however, is somewhat nuanced. The act of churning out content for the sake of traffic has now been placed in the bin, where it belongs. Instead, the emphasis is being rightly placed on really good articles, in both long and short form. In the past, the focus has been on creating snappy content for online because print ‘may as well be dead’ – but newspapers or not, detailed, well-written content has been given a new lease of life.

Platforms such as Shorthand are helping to make long-form content easy to consume. The BBC and Telegraph are already on board as well as other publications. Even Buzzfeed, previously famous for it’s championing of the listicle, has been publishing fascinating stories and quality investigative journalism for a few years now. If you head to their big stories page you’ll be inundated with impactful, well-researched news stories without a quiz in sight.

But content is not just about the written word. Nowadays you might find office chat more than often revolves around what podcast you listened to on the way to work or latest vlog you watched last night. What we deem as content and the way we are consuming it has already undergone some seismic shifts this year, but next year we reckon we’ll be seeing more of this activity from brands in their quest to stay at the forefront of their industries.

From Milleni-A to Gen-Z

The work ‘millennials’ has been the bane of many a marketers life. The buzzword of choice for at least the last couple of years, its one that we’ve become desensitized to. We’ve all been questioning: who are they anyway? What do they want? And how do we market to them? But, just as many brands have finally come out with their millennial targeted campaigns, it seems it’s time to go back to the drawing board. 2018 marks the year that gen z will fully come into their own. Like all generational groups, there’s little consensus on when gen z actually begins. Rather, their behaviours are the judge – being seen as digital natives who have grown up with Google being their first port of call for information rather than their parents, they’re different from the so-called ‘coddled’ millennials and need to be addressed as such.

For starters, they’ve grown up with the world wide web, so allegedly understand the sanctity of privacy when sharing online much better than their millennial cousins. Social apps like Snapchat and Instagram are how they communicate, throwing the idea that Snapchat is dying on its head. In fact, 45% of it’s 300 million monthly active users are between 18-24, and its penetration into the gen z age group is undeniable.

They are also more altruistic, or so it would seem. Having grown up in a politically insecure climate and activism taking the centre stage across social media, it’s no surprise that this has affected the way they view the world. They’re much more clued up on issues to do with race and gender and have no problem questioning it. Gen z are also said to look for brands which do more than just sell – bringing activism and charity to the fore. They may only be about 15-19 now, but they’re fast entering the workforce and the consumer market, presenting a new challenge for brands and digital marketers alike. Time will only tell how they’ll work to adapt.

Rise of the Robots

Admittedly, we’ve been talking a lot about AI recently, but that’s because it’s already in force and we predict it’s only going to get bigger in 2018. While the advances in AI might not be at staggering robot levels right now, developers are confident that that may well change. Next year there is much talk about AI bots in messaging becoming the norm. Such chat box tools like Intercom and Drift will continue to make it even easier for brands to connect with their customers, even if it’s not actually a human doing it. This brings a whole new element to digital marketing – a brand new tool which can be used in combination with our bread and butter channels to deliver a complete end to end strategy.

It is also set to change the world of big data with advances in the Internet of Things. This network of data shared by household devices, vehicles and appliances allows machines to anticipate our needs – using data to work smarter. But that’s a big job, which is why we need the help of AI to sift through this info and ultimately learn from it. In reality, this is how most businesses are going to be incorporating AI into our lives, as we’re going to need a lot of extra help in coping with this brand new addition to our lives.

So will 2018 see the rise of the machine household helper? Probably not, but we’re definitely seeing AI as significantly more integrated into digital marketing.

Going digital for PR

Here at Curated, we’ve been offering digital PR for a while and we’d go so far as to say we’re pretty good at it. In 2018, we predict that a lot more brands and companies are going to follow suit. But why now? Digital PR has been steadily gaining traction for a while and brands are now starting to see the advantage of looking to online. Though print isn’t dead we can’t ignore the surge into surfing the web, nor the cost effectiveness of it. However, the lines between so-called ‘traditional PR’ and ‘digital PR’ are incredibly blurred. The types of coverage that work for your brand or campaign are subjective, for one, but we think people have got the wrong end of the stick if they think digital means giving up on tradition completely.

For us, PR is all about building relationships. You get to know your client, what they want and what they expect from you, and you use your knowledge and expertise to pitch to journalists and form relationships with them. That fundamental nature of PR does not (and should not) change just because it is moving online. Going digital is not an excuse to get sloppy, in fact, we’ve seen over 2017 that personalisation has been a key factor in gripping consumers, which is all the more reason to keep building these relationships.

Wearing your tech

The Apple watch is no newbie anymore, but with other fitness brands jumping aboard the Fitbit-style bandwagon the wearables market is only set to grow. Casio has teamed up with Microsoft to create a tres chic piece of time telling tech, and although Adidas has pulled out of creating wearable fashion, they’re still collaborating with Fitbit for a new collection to come out next year. It’s not just your wrist either: Under Armour will be distributing a smart shoe, and Bella Leaf could be the pioneers of period tracking jewellery.

Wearable technology might sound like a fad from the offset, but 2018 is going to see it fully integrate into society. But why does this matter to digital marketing? Well for one it changes the way we consume. Google Glass may have failed, but Amazon is in the works to create a sidekick to their Alexa, and this proximity to our tech completely alters our online behaviour. The way we search, the way we surf and the way we ultimately shop can change depending on the way we do it. With big companies jumping on smart products we’re coming to expect so much more from brands and the way they market to us – those who fail to innovate might get left behind.

Tweet’s all folks

Trend reports have been saying that Twitter has been on the decline for years, and although they’ve had a good final quarter compared to the previous years, they still have a growth problem. Companies and individuals alike seem to view the platform as an add-on rather than a must-have, but so far it’s managed to cling on. Next year that might change.

Twitter’s most successful updates have previously been born from listening to what their users want and acting on it. But, instead of cracking down on fake users and implementing harsher regulations when it came to abuse and even being able to save issues, they decided to give the gift that no one wanted – 280 characters. With Linkedin rising rapidly in the social ranks, Snapchat being the platform of choice for many Gen Zer’s and Instagram continuing to rule the game for image and video content, will 2018 be the year Twitter finally dies?

Getting stricter with advertising

One thing we’ve seen a lot of this year that’s only going to get bigger in the next are rules. We know almost every 80’s film tells us to break them, but that’s going to set you back quite a lot if you plan on doing it in the digital marketing world. Tech is consistently updating and Google has decided to turn the tables and crack down on advertisers. Instead of focusing on how to get the most of the ads, they’ve turned their attention to the user experience, therefore getting much stricter with paid ads. We’ve already mentioned that new regulations are being brought in to stop potential customers being duped by bloggers and influencers, but Chrome is also rolling out software to stop sound on autoplay videos. Youtube is still a great place for video ads and the new year will potentially see Netflix take tips from Spotify by rolling out an ad or two across its platform.

All in all, 2018 is set to be a pretty influential year if any of our predictions are right. Though many of them seem a bit repetitive, it reflects the interconnectivity we’re experiencing with digital. But of course, only time will tell if we’re right.

If you’re still reminiscing over 2017, you can check out our little round up here. If you’d like to have a chat about what these trends might mean for your business in the new year, drop us a line!

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