Wow, 2017 is nearly over, and what a year it’s been. We’ve seen political decisions spur activism and protests on the streets of the world, and a simultaneous growth of online as well as a shift towards mindfulness and digital detoxing. But with Blue Planet on TV and Attenborough still alive, it’s safe to say it’s ended up okay. What’s more, it’s been a huge year for digital marketing, bringing rise to new technology and giving us a whole host of new opportunities. In celebration, we’ve picked out our favourites as we look back at 2017.
Seeing is believing
Amazon Alexa, Google Pixl, 3D TV, Drones. We don’t all have a VR headset, nor a robot to help us with the housework, nevertheless the technological advancements that come with AI have been staggering in 2017. Machine learning has made the way we behave online change inch by inch, and adding voice search into the mix has seen a shift in the way we talk to our tech.
It’s not just how we speak to our phones either, but how we see through them. Facebook’s 360 update hit our newsfeeds early this year, allowing us to transport to wherever our friends were with a twist of your phone. And if that weren’t enough, Facebook is underway in releasing another stand-alone virtual reality headset, the Oculus Go, to build on the Oculus Rift and rival those of Google and HTC. All of which will be on the market for 200 dollars or less.
But although all these advancements have been made this year, it’s arguably 2018 where we’re going to see the real burst of VR and AI advancements on the scene. We predict that VR will only grow on social media, especially with companies such as Airbnb discussing the creation of virtual tours to better their services. It could even change the way we date, with VR aiding long distance relationships and AI behind the contested subject of sex robots. Who’s to say we won’t have our own R2D2 type robot to help us out by the time we enter the new decade?
Don’t fake it
But whilst we saw AI seize control of the digital landscape, we saw some big personalities take control of the political one. Brexit and Trump dominated the news this year, and with them the phenomena of ‘fake news’. Although definitely not a new thing, the overuse of the term on every platform forced us to realise the faults of staying in our own online echo chamber, and the fact that 44% of us get our news solely from social media forced us to start questioning the reliability of our sources.
Facebook even took it upon themselves to try and counter the wave of illegitimate information on the web by introducing a system to report fake news and taking the hard line by banning any ads on its network that has links to it. Many are calling on other social platforms such as Twitter to do the same, and 2018 may see a crackdown on the way we share content on Twitter, Tumblr and even Instagram. Google’s algorithms are already getting stricter on linking and spam, and when it comes to advertising the Committee of Advertising Practice and Advertising Standards Agencies are cracking down with how influencers work with brands, promoting truth in all aspects of our digital world.
In some ways, the witch hunt for shoddy journalism did us all a favour, we’re now questioning everything the way our history teachers used to pester us to. But the fact of the matter is opinion is now the thing most widely shared online. In recent years, the decline of printed press and growth of online means that less money is being invested in investigative journalism whilst opinion blogs or comment sections are growing rapidly. They’re cheaper to maintain, easier to source and gain a lot more traffic online. The issue lies in that journalists used to be praised for their objective outlook, but now, we’re taking opinion as hard truth which is just dangerous.
Still, there’s hope, as fact-checking tools gain popularity and journalists continue to work harder to find reliable sources. To read about how Fake News affects digital marketing check out our blog on it.
The golden age of video
One trend we absolutely can’t deny is video. From going live and showing the world what we’re up to in real time to condensing news stories into 30-second snapshots, our social media platforms have revolutionised video. New interfaces on Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram make it easier than ever to watch, like and share, to the point where the BBC and other major news platforms have poured funds and resource into building up their video content.
Though it was introduced in 2015, going live really took off this year, just as many digital marketing specialists predicted it would. Not only does it allow us all to share small and momentous moments in our lives, but it gave us bigger platforms and journalists the tools to broadcast using only a smartphone with a working camera. Stories also became the social trend none of us knew we needed. Though, not everyone succeeded in implementing Snapchat’s coveted invention. Whilst Facebook and Whatsapp both tried, Instagram managed it seamlessly. Stories also gave brands and marketers a rush of adrenalin when it came to social – to give sneak peeks into new collections or a behind-the-scenes look lent an air of exclusivity and let customers into the inner workings of brands.
This time it’s personal
As predicted by almost any article at the beginning of this year, personalised marketing did make its way into the mainstream – because we wanted it. Gone are the days of wanting to fit in with the crowd – advertising, branding and marketing this year saw individuality take centre stage.
Stripped down, first name basis type marketing is favoured, as is the idea of real people and small business/startup culture, as we’ve started to see big businesses blend into one big ‘corporate’ label. Nowadays, we want to be able to put a face to a name, whether that’s Lush making sure you know who bottled your face cream, Nike’s ‘build your own’ feature, or Netflix or Amazon using data to recommend things you’ll probably like.
Spotify has even gone one step further this month by taking the time to not only compile your top songs into a ‘2017 wrapped’ playlist but also one of ‘the ones that got away’. Plus if you access the campaign through Facebook, it will generate a fun quiz complete with stats of your listening adventures to see if you really like what you think you like. This, mixed with brands having an even bigger digital presence than ever, has made personalisation key to connecting to customers.
The rise of micro-influencers
Even though blogging isn’t a trend we could realistically categorise as new, in 2017 we’ve certainly seen a lot more of it and said hello to tonnes more micro influencers. Ranging from about 1000-50k followers, this pocket of social media users proved themselves as one of the most beneficial tools a brand can use, in fact, our social feeds have been so inundated with influencer endorsed products that the CAP decided to issue a whole new set of guidelines so we as consumers won’t get duped. You can get the lowdown by checking out our interview with fashion blogger Nerd About Town.
The rise of influencers this year is part of how we’re all yearning for something a bit more real and authentic: with substantial but not staggering amounts of followers that make us feel way more connected to what they’re selling. Like we said before, it’s all about the personalised approach! But now that new regulations can come into play any minute, will 2018 see this trend falter after having to toe the line? Only time will tell.
Shopping’s not dropping
Although we saw the power of social e-commerce this year, it’s set to grow even more in 2018 – social media platforms are starting to become marketplaces. Facebook’s ad platform has grown considerably into Instagram, and a new a type of in-app purchasing update on the platform is currently being trialed, which may make it easier to shop whatever influencer you follow. In fact, we think in-app purchasing will be rolled out over many more social platforms in the future, as well as many other things.
And that’s a wrap! As much as this year has kept us on our toes, it’s also delivered some gems to the world of digital marketing, trends that are probably only going to grow in 2018. The world is going digital, and we’re happy to be leading the charge.
If you’re looking for a little chat, some friendly advice or a full blow strategy into how to take your company into the digital world, drop us a line!
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