By Shannon Bianchi • June 19 2018
The calendar has finally turned, the grass is green again, and thankfully the sun stays out past 7pm. This can all only mean that Summer is finally here and we’re officially halfway through 2018. While the warmer weather can have you fantasizing more about your Fourth of July plans rather than your company’s marketing strategy for the rest of the year, thankfully we’ve done some of the heavy lifting for you. Take a look at some of the most important business and social media trends that can put your company ahead of the curve and ready for 2019.
Instagram and ECommerce
This may not come as a shock, but experts predict that Instagram will continue to dominate the social media marketing realm as it gains more users, especially in the 45-54 year old demographic. Currently, 50% of users follow a brand they like or intend to buy from, and this is expected to increase as the platform makes buying and booking even easier. The site recently announced their plan to introduce “action buttons,” which will allow a user to not only purchase, but also book appointments and make reservations all within the app (Mashable). This new feature will surely solidify the platform as a true digital storefront for brands both big and small (Hootsuite).
Not only will consumers utilize the in-app purchase and booking feature, researchers predict that people will increasingly use Instagram for product research, as opposed to using traditional search engines. Being the “mobile first” generation, as well as having immense spending power, Gen Zers will surely have a big hand in the transition from traditional searching.
Visual Content and Voice Control
Experts predict that we’ll also see a boost in companies focusing on visual content for marketing and the use of voice control technology will help drive sales. With 28% of users already turning to social media for product research, experts predict that 50% of searches will be conducted through images or speach by 2020. It’s important to get your brand accustomed and adaptable to these types of technologies now.
In a visual world where Instagram seems to reign supreme, other platforms such as Pinterest are using innovative technologies to aid in product discovery as well. Last year the site rolled out a special Lens feature, which uses machine learning to help in brand and product discovery. For example, a user can take a picture of an article of clothing, add it into the site’s search bar, and Pinterest will use that image to show the user outfit ideas, other products to go with the clothing, suggestions on what else they may like, opening up a wide range of products the user may not have discovered on their own.
Similarly, the rise of voice-controlled technology has made searching for products and services easier and more accessible than ever. These innovations not only help making searching and typing easier, they also help consumers who may have trouble writing “come online for the first time.” While a user is searching for something using the Google Home or Google Assistant, for example, those websites with the best “snippets” (quick and direct answers you would see at the top of a Google search page) are more likely to be read back to the user. It’s important for your brand to use optimizable language so the technology reads your “snippets” first, and encourages more traffic to your website (Search Engine Land). It’s important to focus on this now because as Hubspot predicts, these new technologies will increase digital commerce revenue by 30% by 2021.
While also not a revolutionary concept, experts agree that video content is a much better medium than text, and a single minute of video is equivalent to approximately 1.8 million words. Researchers have also found that 1 in 3 social video viewers watch branded videos every month, and 90% of consumers report that vidoes help them make buying decisions. With the facts and figures to back it up, it’s no wonder why video is projected to claim more than 80% of all web traffic by 2019 (Hubspot).
With video content increasing in popularity and attention spans decreasing, Inc. suggests that brands should focus on creating shorter, more precise videos that engage the audience within the first 7 seconds. Videos should also be mobile friendly and focus on a variety of topics such as live-streams, Q&As, how tos, product launches, and company news. Following these guidelines, your audience will retain 95% of your message, compared to just 10% with text.
Chatbots and Messaging Apps
Messaging apps and chatbots are nothing new either (remember AIM?), but research predicts companies will begin to implement messaging apps and chatbots as a primary means of customer communication, if they haven’t already done so. Many smaller, more local businesses, for example, already utilize Facebook Messenger in several areas relating customer service. While these messages are most likely monitored by a small business stakeholder, Chatbots can be used by larger companies so resources can be allocated elsewhere and more efficiently. Currently, 80% of Chatbots can be used to provide services on a 24/7 basis, aiding the customer in a seamless process of asking questions, discovering products, processing digital payments, and getting product delivery updates (Inc). These conversations can also be monitored so the business can gain predictive analytics based off these conversations (Hootsuite).
While these are just a few trends to keep in mind, there will undoubtedly be more strategies and technologies that will arise that can give your brand a competitive edge. However know that you have a good idea of the best strategies to implement, you can enjoy your beach weekends guilt-free, already knowing what needs to be done come Monday morning.
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