Digital 2017 Spring CatWalk: Trends and Solutions for online and social media

March 24, 2017

Last year saw digital standing up on its own and taking a few but very important steps. The video uprising on all platforms and overwhelming presence of social interaction through digital media peaked and will continue to do so as it takes new shapes in the grand landscape of communication. As we take a stroll on the media catwalk, we may turn our heads to gaze upon the wildest trends and try to glean at what the future holds in store for us, digitals.

Kicking things up in fashion, let’s start by summing up on the ”to improve” list, so here are some key challenges that we will be facing this season:

  • Organic reach will continue to decline for brands.
  • Pay-to-play will increase as brands use social advertising to combat a decline in organic reach.
  • With increased investment in social, marketers need to shift away from vanity metrics such as ‘likes’ and ‘comments.’

Next, let’s see how social network trends for 2017:

Twitter: Moments in time. Customer experience and service.

Facebook: Driving conversions. Social marketing.  

Instagram: Brand awareness. Community building. Discovery.

Snapchat: Content distribution. Audience engagement.

LinkedIn: Content platform. Social selling and peer-to-peer influence.

Followed by the main course, the state of digital trends in 2017, with a few tips on how to grasp and overcome the main challenges they present:

Social catches up with search for discovery

Social usage isn’t slowing. It’s accelerating, especially as a discovery and research tool to find and buy from brands.

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98% of online consumers (age 16 to 64) globally say they have visited or used a social network within the last month. Digital consumers have an average of almost 8 accounts. This number has more than doubled since 2012. Facebook remains the top service globally for membership (84%) but YouTube maintains a lead for visitors/users (87%).

We’re seeing the decline of traditional websites as Vox is now publishing directly to social networks and apps and BuzzFeed has a team figuring out what BuzzFeed might look like without a website at the middle; Vice distributes video straight to YouTube, has a channel in Snapchat’s app, along with CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN, Cosmo, and the Daily Mail; Facebook Marketplace, Instagram’s Tap button (used by Warby Parker to sell directly from social)—all skipping search and websites. Here are some tips on how to get started with social discovery:

  1. Know your audience—Older buyers tend to use search engines to research products; millennials will use social, skipping search. Make sure your strategy matches the buyer you’re trying to reach.
  2. Focus on credibility—Consumers are researching products on social channels. Make sure you have third party content (such as customer stories, video reviews of products by influencers) showing up in social searches.
  3. Distribute straight to social—Explore Medium, Facebook Instant Articles, weekly Facebook Live chats, Instagram AMAs, and Twitter Chats as tactics to create and publish content straight to social.
  4. Rethink your metrics—Page views and web traffic are the default metrics of success. But as more and more brands publish straight to social, you’ll need to rethink what metrics to track in order to motivate your team.

Social commerce shows new promise

Social commerce has been hyped before. But recent developments offer new ways to drive revenue from social.

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Some tactics to try this year:

  1. Experiment—Social commerce has a lot of opportunity but isn’t right for every brand. Experiment and test with a product launch or special promotion.
  2. Persuade with video—Video can help to showcase products in more detail. Alleviate any buyer concerns, educate them about features, and persuade prospects with specifics, facts, and customer testimonials.
  3. Pick a challenge. Solve it together—Social commerce sits between e-commerce and social teams. Pick a common goal (such as ‘drive larger order size’) and run a pilot program together. Compare results of pilot versus siloed approaches to e-commerce.
  4. Make buying fun—North American and European consumers aren’t as comfortable with social commerce. Use novelty to your advantage with flash sales, fun product combinations, and rewards for buying directly from social.

 

Dark social rising 

Dark social is challenging traditional ways of measuring social ROI. But there are ways to combat it.

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With a staggering 84% of content shared on mobile done through dark social, major brands are finding new ways to track down and solve this:

  1. Tag social traffic—Use UTM codes and standardize these across your teams.
  2. Unite social data—Integrate social activity with other systems of record such as Salesforce and Marketo. Work with SEO teams to understand attribution paths.  
  3. Stay simple—“Copy Link to Clipboard” on your website mitigates loss to dark social channels. Track with UTM with the parameter “social email.”
  4. Study customers—Run an experiment to see how dark social impacts sharing. Study how customers are using it. For example, create a micro-community for brand advocates.
  5. Embrace the dark side—Explore dark social-only distribution such as early access to content via WeChat or Snapchat. Or launch a special sale that people only hear about via dark social, helping you track the impact.  
  6. Personas—Build personas more likely to be impacted by dark social. Example: CMOs are more likely to receive your industry report via a private email share from one of their employees.

 

Video ignites social advertising

Last year, social video stole the show. In 2017, social video advertising will be a key strategic focus.

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As we discover that 65% of marketers prioritize social video platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter over traditional web video (Vevo, YouTube), we drive to the following conclusions:

  • 70% of marketers plan to use social video advertising in the next 12 months.
  • 65% of marketers will focus on Facebook video advertising in 2017 followed by YouTube at 39%, Instagram at 21.7%.
  • 41 % of marketers say that optimizing paid social ads is a key priority for them.

 

How to get started on social video advertising:

  1. Short and visual—Keep it short (under 30 seconds) and remember audiences will likely watch with their audio turned off. Focus on simple messages that can be understood without audio. Doesn’t need to be an expensive video to work.  
  2. Get inspired—MailChimp, Dunkin Donuts, and Staples are really good at catchy social videos with little or no audio.
  3. Test short clips—Producing a lot of short clips helps you quickly test what works and see why different creative product results. This can influence future video creative and give you ideas for bigger budget videos.
  4. Focus on customer stories—Go beyond brand awareness and help prospects evaluate your product. Example: Artifact Uprising showcases how customers use their photobooks to share memories.  
  • Organizations turn to connected workforcesSocial began as a department-specific strategy. But leaders are expanding social to tap into the power of connected workforces.

 

There are three converging workplace trends to keep in mind:

  1. Employee Advocacy: Tapping into peer influence and fueling content distribution one-to-one at scale.
  2. Social selling: Amplifying what sales people already do offline in social, helping them uncover opportunities like never before.
  3. Training at scale: Building a baseline of digital skills in large organizations, avoiding mistakes, ensuring brand consistency.  

This concludes the trends for 2017’s digital mediascape. We hope you picked up some of our tips, as we advise you to look up to the future and the opportunities it creates. 

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