December is a good time for businesses and marketers to review their current marketing plans and think ahead to any new goals or initiatives they might take on in the new year. I interviewed our CEO Melissa Harrison about her marketing predictions for 2017 and insight into which marketing tactics businesses should focus on for the new year.
Q: What are your marketing predictions for 2017? What will we see for top trends and technologies?
I think everyone is itching for the next best thing in technology—what is going to make our lives easier as marketers and still reach the audiences that will help grow our businesses in the new year? Companies that take advantage of technology in order to scale and streamline marketing productivity will rise to the top.
The Internet of Things (IoT) will also play a big role in this in terms of big data, artificial intelligence and other information to help marketers succeed in the new year. But with new technology and information moving to the cloud comes the added likelihood of hackers and cyberattacks—good with the bad. The Business Marketing Association had a good IoT predictions post earlier this year which points out a few of these positive (and potential for negative) predictions regarding IoT next year.
Another prediction (and some of this could be my traditional publishing background coming out) is the return of print magazines for brands as a way to cut through the clutter. Think Red Bull’s The Red Bulletin, or American Express’s Food and Wine or Lifetime’s Experience Life. Marketers are having a tough time cutting through the noise (and there won’t be a decrease in the quantity of content produced in 2017, for better or worse) and so they’re thinking outside the box on how to reach their audiences with owned, non-digital content channels as well.
User-generated content will also still be important in 2017. In fact, 85% of people trust content made by others more than they trust brand-created content. We will continue to recommend that brands think about the type of content their audiences are looking for—make it about them and include them in those conversations online.
Q: Talking strictly social media, what are the top social channels brands should put their efforts toward in 2017?
Remember when we all heard that social media was just a fad and that it really wasn’t important for marketing? We’ve proved that to be false each year—and unfortunately, the brands (many small businesses included) that are not yet on the social media bandwagon are losing.
Right now, Facebook is king. Whether marketers like it or not, it’s where the majority of the population gets its information—and they want this information all in one spot. If you do not have a Facebook strategy, make it a priority for 2017 and be sure to include an advertising budget with that strategy.
Pay attention to the changes of algorithms (specifically Facebook’s) as well. Recently, Facebook updated its algorithm to reward brands who showcase good content with personality. It’s not enough to push out content—content needs to be engaging, relevant and show the personality of your brand.
As a side note, organic reach, while continuing to fall on Facebook, has risen (or at least has a more appealing, higher percentage) on Instagram. This information is important for companies to keep in mind—if you have visual stories to tell, make sure you are telling them on the appropriate channels. Likewise, if you have not explored additional channels outside of your typical Facebook and Twitter boxes, 2017 should provide you with the motivation to add additional channels to your content marketing arsenal. But, be careful—I can’t stress enough that it’s about the user—do not come into any new channels thinking about a hard product sell. Find out what your audience wants and provide it.
Q: Visual content and videos continue to be more important than ever—how can business take advantage of this in 2017?
I touched on visual content a bit above, but the other thing to think about is video and specifically, the added use of video for advertising purposes or “mini series” type of storytelling. Think Chatbooks or The Holdernness Family. These brands are using video and visual content to create compelling content—content that is incredibly relatable to their core audiences. Do some research throughout the year to mimic brands that showcase personality not just with written content but through visual and video content as well.
Q: What about paid media?
Yes—brands should prepare to increase their digital ad spend (or, if they have not yet entered the world of digital advertising, start preparing to do some testing and initial spending in 2017). It won’t be enough to create a ton of content and just blast it out hoping it will stick. Successful marketers will need to define niche audiences and, with the continued decrease of organic reach, will need to establish a legitimate paid content strategy across multiple social media channels. The development of customized audiences, lookalike audiences, niche targets, etc. will also be essential as brands look to get ahead.
Q: If you could only give one piece of marketing advice to brands for 2017, what would you say?
It’s all about a distribution plan. As many of us are predicting, marketers are going to continue to create a ridiculous amount of content in 2017. However, the brands that will prove successful will have a strategic distribution plan. So what if you write 4 blog posts a week? What’s your plan for getting eyeballs on them? So you wrote an e-book with the latest tips for the year—if you don’t think about the distribution of that content—email, paid advertisements, social media campaigns, mailings, etc.—yours will just get lost in the clutter among all the rest. Distribution is the key to success for 2017 in my book.
Looking for more predictions? Check out Forbes “8 trends that will shape content marketing in 2017” or Content Marketing Institute’s “2017 content marketing predictions” eBook. And as always, we’re here to help. Give us a call or fill out our contact form for assistance in creating a successful marketing strategy for your brand in 2017 and beyond.