Social and digital marketing have hit their stride — and now that everyone is back from winter break and settling in to the new year, it’s time to review the lessons learned from last year, and look forward to what’s needed for your company to shine in 2017. From the evolving world of artificial intelligence to expectations of instant communications, Stacy DeBroff, CEO and founder of Influence-Central, shares her take on the social and digital marketing horizon, based on her research and work with over 350 national brands last year.
New Products Roll in From the Brand Revolution
“As consumers – via social media – we all have a seat at the marketing table —by sharing our needs and priorities through direct feedback and our purchasing choices. We’ve seen the impact of the ‘brand revolution’ on key consumer-facing industries,” DeBroff says. “In the coming year, brands will become even more attuned to the needs and priorities of the consumer, and increasingly shape their product offerings around the latest lifestyle trends.”
A.I. Solutions Point to a Brave New World
2017 will be the year when we will look more to artificial intelligence to lend a helping hand. “This current trend with start-up brands, as well as data analytics, identifies applicable A.I. solutions as a way for consumers to navigate in an increasingly complex world,” DeBroff notes. “From advanced electronics applications, to pinpoint analytics that predict consumer needs as they arise, A.I. is on the way, in a big way.”
“Instant” Speeds up as the New Normal for Gen Z
What happens when you grow up surrounded by social media and technology? Expectations of instant communications and entertainment become inevitable. Generation Z consumers gravitate to instantaneous social channels such as Snapchat, Instagram, and the new social app Musical.ly. “The downside?” DeBroff explains, “This generation has grown up with instant response as its baseline expectation. We can count on at least three platforms we’ve never heard of rising to social prominence next year that embrace faster, more pictorial, and more spontaneous ways for rising Gen Z to bond.”
Niche Curation Sorts Information Overload
“We find ourselves awash with more information than has ever been available to us as humans, and we simply can’t process it,” DeBroff concludes. “As a result, we’ve increasingly come to rely not just on curated information, but on the people we most trust to curate this information for us in a way that resonates with our lifestyle, interests, and values. In 2017, consumers will be on a mission to find peer specialists with niche expertise to filter recommendations that meet their needs in a customized way.”
Mobile Devices Forge On-the-Go Consumerism
In 2017, DeBroff predicts we will see the emergence of a new “electronics evolution” with innovative technology and apps for the mobile phones we keep tethered to our sides. “As these devices offer up smarter, faster, and more intuitive information, they will become even more ingrained into our daily patterns and connected culture — and dramatically influence consumers at the point of purchase. Mobile devices will emerge as shoppers’ most valued shopping partner, as consumers check them for recommendations from their network of trusted advisors while fact-checking product attributes and using online coupons,” DeBroff says.
Social Influencers Diversify, Specialize, and Grow Exponentially
“We’ve never had more on-call peers to advise us — from peer advisors to specialists and trend-spotters,” DeBroff notes. As we move into 2017, she predicts we will “entrench ourselves more deeply within the social web, immersing ourselves in increasingly diverse and broadening circles of discerning opinions. These influencers will powerfully inform and guide us in our consumer decisions.”
Influencer Marketing as a Fundamental Brand Strategy
Many brands now recognized Influencer Marketing as the industry’s hot “go-to” strategy, but they struggle on how best to leverage it and measure it from the perspective of business results and attribution modeling. “As we head into 2017, influencers will entrench as defining voices in consumer marketing, as brands concede advertising control and look to passionate brand advocates to sway consumers on social media,” says DeBroff.
Consumer Resentment of Intrusive Marketing Deepens
Op-ups, banner ads, and disruptive brand messages are all falling out of favor. Today’s consumers don’t want brands aggressively pushing their way into social media feeds, whether on Facebook, through promoted Pins or Tweets, or paid-for Snapchat stories. “As consumers seek to learn more about new products on their own time, expect continued resentment over intrusive marketing to deepen in 2017. Consumers will continue to vote with their feet … “walking” away from social platforms that inundate them with brand marketing,” DeBroff notes. Similarly, the tone and content of ads needs to be geared to the new Gen Z paradigm: fast, smart, sassy, and relevant.
Consumer Tethering to Mobile Devices Tightens
As mobile devices take over photography, replace alarm clocks, and provide on-the-go access to favorite social media platforms, as well as music and even audio books, they’ve transformed how consumers communicate and share information. Our smart phones and tablets have become 24/7 companions,” DeBroff explains. This year she says consumers will continue to ratchet up their mobile dependency as more usages emerge. Retailers that do not consider the impact of this sea change, and deal with it intelligently, will be left behind on shore.
Words Prove So Overrated: The Year When Images and Videos Rule
“Visuals and videos have truly surged over the past six months, and consumers – particularly those in the Millennial and rising Generation Z cohorts – have truly embraced pictures and videos as a way to gather and share information,” DeBroff says. “Look for new visual platforms to roll out in 2017 to accompany existing ones as consumers gravitate toward authentic, live-action, visual storytelling.”