2018 will be a landmark year for social media, digital marketing and research. Don’t believe us? Just ask some of the experts. They’re quick to say that, as fast as things have evolved in recent years, we aint seen nothin’ yet.
Now to be fair, we can say that pretty much every year. That goes for 2017, which saw some crazy breakthroughs that have upped the ante. Wendy’s gave a year’s worth of Chicken Nuggets to a guy for getting retweets, brands like Patagonia and AirBnB took on political activism and Burger King lit their stores on fire.
There was plenty where that came from. We expect the 2018 iteration of marketing, branding and business planning to be as deeply impacted as it was last year.
To prepare for the new year, we’ve assembled some of the the biggest, boldest predictions or perspectives on the state of the digital and social universe for the upcoming year from the gurus who know. Here, you’ll find such predictions along with how we see things going.
We hope this list finds you well as the new year officially gets underway. Bookmark this one for later to see if the crystal ball rings true and follow along with us throughout 2018 to see how it all unfolds.
Ready? Here we go. Here are 10 bold predictions about the state of marketing and social media from some people who have good authority to say so:
1. Influencers No Longer Just ‘One of Those Tactics’
“It is likely that more brands will embrace influencer marketing as a way to connect with audiences who tend to ignore traditional strategies.” - Deep Patel, Entrepreneur
Influencer marketing isn’t just the shiny new object of every marketer’s obsession. Now, it’s taking a seat at the big boys table as major strategy, and for a wide range of teams, not just limited to social media.
The thought leaders in marketing and advertising are all predicting a big year for Influencer marketing.
According to Patel, 90% of marketers who employ influencer marketing believe it to be successful. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.
According COHN Marketing, “If your influencer strategy actually makes sense for the demographic, you will be swimming in success.”
2. Artificial Intelligence Transforms Our Analytics
“The machines have risen.” - Dara Fontein, Hootsuite
Indeed. The industry consensus is this: AI and machine learning will be a driving force for brands and businesses everywhere. We are seeing a true transformation in the way technology and intelligence have an impact on our business.
This will be the case for marketing analytics, as data continues to become more precise with the advancement of artificial intelligence.
As marketers embrace the opportunities innovative technologies bring them from an audience research standpoint, intelligence will definitely start to shape the way we analyze and measure performance.
Resources such as social listening and monitoring give you access to data about audiences, competitors and campaign performance that were not possible without the advancement of AI. Now you can more accurately understand how your strategies and tactics perform, measure what’s working and what’s not and answer the question why things are the way they are.
You won’t need to fear a Terminator uprising in 2018. But you can celebrate the data that is just going to keep getting better and better.
And companies are catching on. 38% of enterprise brands used intelligence platforms in 2017. In 2018? It will be up to 62%.
3. Storytelling will Rule 2018 and Beyond
Gone are the days of sporadic campaigns and disjointed messaging.
The brands that tell the best stories for the right audiences will win 2018. Everywhere you go, from marketing conferences, to podcasts, to online marketing videos, you hear the “S” word.
Storytelling is about connecting your brand with audiences on a personal level by building a complete and consistent brand narrative.
As we’ll explore next, people don’t respond to marketing and advertising the same way anymore. Interruptive, blatant advertisements don’t work. People want to feel something. They want to learn. Most of all, they want to feel like they matter. You have to tell the right story to the right audience. That’s your mission this year and from now on.
Don’t speak at the audience. Speak with them. Be part of the conversation. Tell your story, and show them why it matters to them.
The most basic rule? Be consistent.
By threading your brand messaging and creative together cohesively and strategically, you’ll be able to capture the attention of audiences and keep them wanting more.
4. Forget about Marketing on Social Media. Start Inspiring.
“People aren’t coming to [social] for information as much as they are going there to find something new, to understand or to feel inspired.” -Jason Wire, Creative Strategy at Pinterest [quote from Social Media Week Chicago]
People use social for discovery and inspiration. The best brands get found and inspire.
It’s time to change your thinking on social. It isn’t a place to market your business or product. It’s a place to be found by offering something new, something interesting, something helpful.
The new model for a user experience on social is stumbling upon something awesome. That’s why Pinterest and Instagram have turned into a dominating force. Regardless if you’re on these two channels or not, it’s important to understand this type of expectation in the user experience.
Develop your content to meet this expectation and model your strategy off the people who you are hoping will discover or be inspired but what you have to say.
5. Generation Z is Taking Over
“Generation Z is value-oriented, inclusive and socially conscious.” - Kimberly Whitler, Contributor for Forbes
Orange is the New Black? Generation Z is the new Millennials.
Brands are starting to catch up to the elusive millennial. Now, they’ll start chasing the next round: Generation Z.
There’s going to be an even bigger learning curve for Gen-Z than there was for Millennials. Millennials grew up during the rise of the digital revolution. Gen-Z doesn’t know anything but digital.
They’re going to decide the shape of the social and digital universe this year. All of the trends, fads and changes made by social networks will be influenced heavily by these younger audiences. Get used to it. It’s now the norm.
This will be one of the toughest challenges advertisers, marketers and analysts have faced. Don’t expect it to be perfect this year.
6. The Focus has Turned to Personalized, One-to-One Experiences
“Today’s consumers expect personalized engagement. Communications leaders need to shift their mindset to a more personalized experience.” - Mark Blanchard, Global Head of Experience Design, Havas [quote from Social Media Week Chicago]
84% of Millennials are not persuaded by traditional advertising. Time to mix things up.
We need to start having direct conversations with people at scale. Create customized experiences for your customers, prospects, fans and followers.
The data is clear on this one. Personalized content performs 42% better than non-personalized content, according to HubSpot.
Guy Sheetrit of Over the Top SEO put it this way: “People do not like content that is not relevant to them. Instead, content that is personalized and based on user personas is more likely to be read and shared.”
7. Machine Learning Powers Ad Targeting
"It won't be long before machines do all our ad targeting for us." Justin Graves, CEO at Infegy
A.I. isn't just about robots and self-driving cars.
We said earlier that the "machines have risen" when it comes to analytics, but it's important you're aware of the impact that artificial intelligence has on how we do the actual advertising too.
Machine learning is the capability of A.I. platforms to process and learn from new data and do so over and over again at a faster rate. Self-driving cars use machine learning to literally learn how to drive, and social media listening platforms use it in conjuction with linguistic analysis to help brands and agencies monitor and analyze the entire internet of online conversations and turn it into actionable insight.
Companies like Google and Facebook are using machine learning not only for chat and messenger bots and automation but also to boost ad revenue.
Advertising to people online is a sticky subject. Getting your message or product in front of the right people is no easy task. For most marketers, we live and die by the click. Take the word from Microsoft, for example, who's Bing search team found that if they improved their digital ad accuracy by a mere .1%, they would see an additional hundreds of millions of dollars in increased earnings.
With so much at stake, savvy marketers are figuring out innovative ways to target their ads better.
Enter machine learning, which provides trusty algorithms to do the heavy lifting in ad targeting for us.
Take this scenario. A man in his 30s could be shopping for or interested in buying power tools and also looking for new shoes as a birthday gift for his wife. Artificial intelligence utilizes algorithms to help advertisers target him with the right ads that will get that person clicking. In days of old, he might be served ads about women's shoes later on. Machines know: this dude isn't shopping for a pair of Uggs again anytime soon (especially not at that price!).
If brands could accurately predict the user action and interaction with their ads, they could do laps on their ad revenues.
2018 will be a breakout year for machine learning technology. More brands and businesses will be utilizing it to boost the effectiveness of their ads and drive more online conversions. Get in on the action by implementing the use of advertising platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads and turning to social intelligence to better understand online audiences.
If you want to keep up this year, you'll need to invest in the intelligence that provides you with the data and the solutions that marketers only dreamed of just a few years ago.
8. Authenticity Wins
“Content will be more genuine, abolishing the airbrush with a surge in live videos and real-life content.” -Annabel Clarke, Digital Agency Network
Death to the photoshop era. People are totally over the overdone creative and super polished campaigns. The best brands in 2018 will be the ones who create authentic connections with their audiences.
It might seem strange to basically say, “stop making things look so good”. And that's not really what we're saying here. The point is not: don’t have good looking, well-made content. The point is: be on the same page as your audience. Get to know them, what they like and how they respond to specific content and never be fake.
9. Mobile Will Dominate
“Considering how ingrained mobile devices are in our lives, as both consumers and professionals today, it shouldn't really be considered a "trend." It should be a staple.” - Ramona Sukhraj, Impact Inbound
Google will officially move to a mobile-first algorithm. Time for you to have a mobile-first mindset.
Handheld devices are where marketers and advertisers can reach audiences everywhere, regardless of who their target is or if they are B2B or B2C. Nearly everyone has a smartphone now, and everyone who does uses it to search, discover and find information as often, if not more often, than they do on a desktop.
And businesses are catching on: according to Karen Taylor of Kuno Creative, “By 2020, media buyers will spend $84.5 billion on mobile advertising, with mobile accounting for 75.9 percent of all digital ad spend globally.”
10. Break Everything!
“We’ll see slogans and campaigns challenging old rules, breaking taboos and using cross-gender concepts.” - Ode Marketing
Glass ceilings? You bet. Brands are pushing further and thinking bigger than ever before. 2018 will be the year that they make strides to break everything and blow the world wide open.
Brave and bold thinkers will find new ways to make people, audiences, customers, fans and bystanders to view their brand. Some major companies will totally change how they operate, both in their branding and internally.
The status quo will be challenged. New doors will be opened. Inclusivity and acceptance will be a major theme. And technology will take over. The brands that win this year will be the sharpest, boldest innovators.
How will you innovate your brand this year? What New Year’s revolutions will you have?
We live in a strange, sometimes scary, often-divided world in 2018.
Marketers and advertisers will not cower in the face of these uncertain times. They will take them head on, and frequently embrace the craziness and use it as a way to personalize their brands. Most importantly, we’ll see some powerful messaging that conveys the innovation, courage and diversity of a brave new world.
Welcome to 2018, everyone. It’s going to be an interesting, and exhilarating, ride.
New year, new insights! Get the intel on your audiences, competitors and influencers you deserve. Schedule a live demo of our social intelligence platform here.