The end of the year is upon us and, if you’re like most marketers, influencer marketing is at the forefront of your 2018 strategy. This year, we watched influencer marketing go from an independent tactic to an all-encompassing marketing strategy – one that touches nearly every aspect of a brand’s business.
Whether finalizing next year’s plans or weighing your options, here’s an insider look at the trends that will dominate 2018:
The Return Of The mApp
The importance of direct messaging continues to increase – for many platforms. The top four messaging apps now have more monthly active users than the top four social networking apps.
Since the days of AIM, our native online behaviors have been rooted in messaging and chat rooms – and now, people are choosing to spend more time in the messaging functions of an app or network than the news feed. Time = money and in the battle for relevance, tech companies are creating new ways for users to communicate via messenger apps comprised of the most popular features of their own platforms – it’s why Facebook created Messenger and why Snapchat, essentially a standalone messenger app, rose so quickly.
In this new era of conversational commerce, social media platforms who continue to shift power to consumers are winning. Messenger apps introduce on-demand service and personalization to the experience and should be used to spark a conversation with consumers, not just to elicit a social reaction.
It’s worth noting that, with the continuous development and implementation of AI into messaging features, it’s likely we’ll see brands begin to dip their toes into messaging with chatbots to automate the process – if they haven’t already. Brace yourselves, the mApp is back and better than ever.
This year we’ve seen video grow across all social platforms – from Facebook Watch to Instagram Live and the birth of the 6-second ad – it’s no surprise that by 2019, video is estimated to account for 80% of all consumer internet traffic. With 80% of brands planning to boost video spending in 2018, video has gone from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a ‘must-have’ for marketers.
It’s likely we’ll see more brands and influencers begin to dabble in more ‘live’ video formats for 2018, as they should – Facebook has reported that users spend 3x more time watching a live video than non-live content. This year, countless social media platforms have launched live video features, creating a whole plethora of possibilities for brand content, influencer partnerships, and consumer engagement.
Pro tip: design your influencer-generated and brand-generated content to be seen and heard – sound off viewing is on the outs.
In 2018, there will be 1 billion AR apps on smartphones, and a billion users will create AR content at least once. When we think AR, most of us think Pokemon Go, Snapchat filters, and Facebook camera effects. However, social media apps aren’t the only brands implementing AR features. With leading companies like Apple coming out with AR-enabled iPhones and Amazon launching augmented reality features, it’s likely we’ll see an increasing number of brands jump on the AR bandwagon in 2018. The ability to digitize the world around us creates a whole new dimension for brands to create engaging experiences for consumers, wherever they may be. Soon enough, it’s likely we will see influencers begin to hold VR and AR events in which they virtually interact with followers in an authentic and real way.
All Eyes On Visual Search
Consumer search habits are changing. In 2017, we saw tech companies like Google, Bing, Pinterest, and Amazon invest in visual search engines and it’s likely we’ll see other apps follow suit in 2018. Visual search opens up a whole new level of communication between consumers and computers, and given our highly visual culture, is only a natural progression of search.
With around 75% of U.S. internet users ‘regularly or always’ searching for visual content prior to making a purchase, leveraging visual search presents a big opportunity for marketers to improve upon major pain points in the customer experience. In preparing for SKU coverage, brands should work with influencers to create or co-create content that is high-quality and authentic – if a product isn’t featured in influencer-generated content, does it even exist?
In 2015 there were about 15.4 billion connected devices and this number is projected to approximately double to 30.7 billion in 2020 and grow to 75.4 billion by 2025. With more connected devices comes the consumers connected to them – and mass amounts of behavioral data. The potential for IoT lies in the ability to deliver more relevant, contextual, and personalized content at scale with less waste. And with consumers’ attention, IoT presents the next big opportunity for marketers as the next ad frontier – think the convergence of voice, video, and image content as programmatic for omni-channel integrated strategies.
To start, think about activating influencers beyond just Instagram – you don’t want to activate influencers just on one device, you want to activate them across all the devices they are using that they are influential on. Then, leverage their insights on how they’re using and interacting with these devices to inform your brand’s strategy.
There you have it, the top trends for 2018. Cheers to a happy and healthy new year! If you haven’t already, download our latest playbook, Accelerating Trust & Transparency in the Customer Journey Through Influencer-Generated Content, to learn how to adapt to today’s shortened path-to-purchase.