What Should You (Digitally) Expect In 2017

That’s it, Santa has left the building, all the firecrackers on the island were used, and now it’s time to think more seriously about 2017, your business, its marketing plan and how it all connects.

So here’s what you should expect (and put your marketing focus on accordingly) in 2017.

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Social networks

Which is fast growing, are they all here to stay and which you should REALLY pay attention to.

Quite obvious, Facebook is not going anywhere anytime soon. Here are directions to put the focus on:

  • Video. Facebook will keep growing its video content in general and live video in particular. Here is what we suggest, very simply put: include video in your 2017 marketing plan. It’s a necessity.
  • E-commerce. Facebook also added during the course of 2016 a dedicated area for businesses to showcase their goods – the “shop” tab. This is another sign of a very clear trend – as Facebook doesn’t want users to leave the platform – it improves the Pages more and more to become like websites. How does it serve you? Well, if you don’t have a website the shop section is a great place to create a catalogue of your products, present the prices, sizes, availability and any other information you’d like to provide to clients and potential clients. By adding the shop section, Facebook made another step towards the e-commerce world and we wouldn’t be surprised if users will be able to purchase goods directly on your page very soon.
  • VR. Virtual reality will become a game changer in the next few years. As Facebook owns Oculus Rift, we wouldn’t be surprised once again if this year it will integrate it in the platform one way or another (imagine for example, that you can offer a virtual reality tour in your hotel to potential clients. Remember it’s not the same as a simple virtual tour, as in VR the user is an actual “player” in the scene). As we write these lines, the options with VR are already quite impressive (see a glimpse of it in the video below) and it will only get better in 2017.

YouTube. It is not a 100% social media network but YouTube does have many of the characteristics. Social network or not, YouTube has over a billion users who generate billions of views every day. We keep bringing it up as a major part of your marketing strategy so as the #1 video platform online (really competing Facebook only), YouTube is not a channel you can ignore in 2017.

Musical.ly. If you’re targeting pre-teens and teens, you should pay extra attention to Musical.ly and its latest platform Live.ly (which is not surprisingly, about video – broadcast live video and talk on video group chat) this year. Whether you like it or not, understand the platform or not, this is where they’re spending their time these days. If things keep going well for musical.ly, it will explode in 2017.

Snapchat. 2016 was a significant year for Snapchat, also known in its new name (that also happened last year) – Snap. It launched its spectacles, introduced Memories, the very much needed feature in the platform and continued growing its user database, age and number wise. Predictions say that in 2017 it’s going for an IPO and it will be one of the biggest ever seen. With that said, the expectations for revenue growth will also be high, and that in turn, will create more space for marketers to showcase their brand and reach the massive audience on the platform.

Instagram. Facebook, the owner of Instagram, made some very good decisions lately about the app. Not only it developed its profiles for businesses and improved the feed significantly (“who to follow” suggestions for example, the ability to zoom in and so on), but also opened the sponsored ads platform to all marketers. Knowing that Snapchat is a big-fast-growing thing, Instagram also introduced “stories” – temporary updates, an identical concept (and name!) to Snapchat’s main feature. Further more, it started to include filters/drawing the user can add on the photo and by that, copied Snapchat again. Instagram is definitely a social network you should (if not already) start paying attention to in 2017.

LinkedIn. LinkedIn made a big move in April last year by launching ProFinder and entering the freelance for hire world. But later on in June is what really happened to LinkedIn. In a surprising move, the giant tech, Microsoft, bought it for more than $26 billion. The merge will have many implications, but in the context of marketing what’s important to understand is that the two are within the corporate world and their activities can be complementary. We can hope for the merge to accelerate LinkedIn’s growth and create more opportunities for marketers (for example – growing LinkedIn’s user database via the office 365).

Twitter. Funny enough, the acquisition of LinkedIn made Twitter’s share price increase. That’s obviously no coincidence – the hopes in the market were and still are that Twitter will be bought out. Twitter is losing its height for a while now and can’t keep up with the savage competition of other social networks. Only this year it closed Vine, its short video social platform that it bought in 2012 before it launched. Thus, Twitter’s future doesn’t look too bright so we’ll just say that if you are thinking of going into Twitter, make sure your target audience is really there and active on the platform.

Augmented reality

Virtual reality and augmented reality are both ways to experience situations, whereas augmented reality is when you experience the world around you as it is but with additional elements on your screen that combine into the “real picture” you see. One of the biggest phenomenon of 2016 was Pokemon Go. The AR location based app broke records in days and was one of the most popular apps in 2016. Marketers used the app to drive foot traffic to their locations. This was probably only the preview for what the future holds for us in terms of this technology.

Artificial intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep learning

Ok, these big words shouldn’t scare you. As we already mentioned in previous article, AI is a technology that is used around us constantly – FB’s face recognition algorithm (you know how Facebook offers you to tag someone and it recognizes their face?), speech recognition (read further), personal assistants like Siri and more. Machine Learning and deep learning are “sub” subjects within AI. Simple to understand examples: you show the computer many malwares codes until it can recognize computer viruses; you show the machine many dog images until it can recognize a dog. AI has become a “hot” topic so much that Mark Zuckerberg’s challenge of 2016 was to build “Jarvis”, his home AI assistance. We expect AI will become an important keyword in 2017. 

Voice search

Google has launched the voice search a while back but like any new habit, especially when it comes to something so common and regular like typing for searches on Google, it is taking time until it becomes the norm. In 2017 we will be seeing more and more people talking to their search engine rather than typing into it. It will be very interesting to see how the voice search will impact the organic as well as sponsored search results in search engines.

ChatBots

It could be that you have been talking to one lately but you didn’t know about it. ChatBots are programs that “know” how to manage a dialog. There are two main ways to build them – one is via a set of rules and the other one, more interesting is through an AI machine. You probably encountered a “live chat” on websites where you can talk to a representative online, but what you (maybe) don’t know is that some are operated by virtual assistants. In 2016 Facebook launched a ChatBot API for Messenger and it became extremely popular overnight – some of the biggest companies in the world started using a bot on their page’s messenger to improve their response time, their customer service standard (a bot can serve many people at the same time, doesn’t miss a message and works 24/7 and doesn’t need sleep). It is no surprise – the number of instant messaging users in general, not only Facebook messenger but also WeChat, Line, Viber and of course WhatsApp that is owned by Facebook, are now bigger than social media users. We can only expect that in 2017 the use of ChatBots will grow even more.

Personalized content marketing (and its distribution); Data mining and Marketing automation

We all know the necessity and importance of content creation. We’re at a point where there’s so much content created online that the only way you can win the game in 2017 and onwards is produce real high quality content and know exactly who and where to distribute it to. Creating a general post about “why you should visit Mauritius” and simply sharing it everywhere you can to get potential leads doesn’t work anymore. Creating a blog post of “why many Chinese visited Mauritius in 2016” and promoting it among frequent travellers Chinese users however, will probably be a better strategy. In fact, personalized content can be much more effective if you do data mining to analyze your customers behavior, create segments and use marketing automation to perform an action accordingly. For example – if you learn about purchase habits, preferences and even the time gap between purchases of the shoppers on your website you can plan the content of the sales emails sent to them accordingly. Within your Google campaigns you can increase or decrease bids according to the conversions of a specific keyword, increase budget for a successful Facebook campaign, etc.

Influencers marketing

Many brands are using “brand ambassadors”, the meaning is quite simple – people with many followers promoting specific brands/causes and being paid for it (it is important to say that on Facebook for example, it’s not allowed). As we argued, the internet is flooded with content and that creates a situation where users, meaning people, choose to “buy from”/believe people they know and trust, people whom they chose to follow. These people don’t have to be celebs on the big screen. Many of the influencers became famous/well known via the social networks themselves. You’ll find very easily famous YouTubers, Instagram leaders or Facebook public figures who impact dozens of thousands of people into loving a specific brand and eventually buying it. This trend will only grow bigger with the explosion of content year over year.

Whether Twitter is bought, ChatBots and AIs take over our lives, we’ll be playing with small creatures on our phone’s screen in the street or not – one thing is sure – 2017 is going to be an interesting year!

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