11 trends to plan for in 2017

Video continues to dominate
Creating and sharing authentic content on social media is critical for brands looking to foster long-term engagement and trust. Your followers want to be able to connect with your brand’s tone and values, no matter the medium. Video content continues to be top dog across all social channels — now even including LinkedIn. And with frequent roll-outs of new video features, including 360° video, live posting and Instagram stories, popular content will continue to lean toward capturing real, unfiltered moments.

More than 50% of businesses on Instagram produced an Instagram story in the last month, while one in five organic stories from businesses generated a direct message from a follower. While the approach varies for each channel, brands can plan to share live updates from events, behind the scenes snippets, exclusive deals or product announcements through authentic video content.

Highlights:
• Facebook now sees 100 million hours of daily video watch time.
Users watch Facebook Live videos 3x longer than those that aren’t live.

Avery Amensen, public relations specialist

 

Social media as lead generation
Social media might not be a tool you consider for lead generation as a B2B brand.
But it should be. Social networks continue to add features to make lead generation more seamless. LinkedIn recently debuted in-feed lead forms in sponsored posts, meaning users don’t have to navigate away from the channel. Facebook Ads offers a host of lead gen capabilities, including Facebook Lead Ads and retargeting prospects who have visited your website before.

Although customers can’t always order your products online like they might from a B2C brand, lead generation can still be effective for a B2B company on social media. Consider how social media allows you to nurture your followers through multiple stages of the sales funnel: from awareness to consideration and ultimately to conversion. Experiment with different tactics to grow your leads database: calls-to-action, landing pages, lead forms, and exclusive offers.

Even with multi-level sales models or complex dealer networks, B2B businesses shouldn’t shy away from social media as a viable lead generation avenue.

Highlights:
• About 87% of B2B companies today use social media as one of their lead generation tactics and use six platforms on average.
• B2B buyers who feel a “high brand connection” are 60% more likely to consider your brand and to make a purchase.

Nicole Scilingo, content specialist 

 

Micro influencers
It’s no secret that younger generations are less engaged with traditional advertising. And that’s if they even see them — 30% of internet users have an ad blocker. Brands have had to get creative when promoting their products to a younger demographic. Influencer marketing leverages someone with a large social media following, possibly a celebrity, to promote products.

But brands are rethinking their influencer marketing strategy and focusing on micro-influencers with a smaller, but more targeted following to give honest reviews while promoting their products. Micro-influencers have a social media following under 100,000 but more than 10,000. And though their numbers may be relatively small, they have higher engagement rates and a stronger connection with their followers, which may be more likely to influence behavior. They’re also much more accessible to brands that want to collaborate with them.

Highlights:
97% of micro-influencers on Instagram charge less than $500 for a promoted post — as opposed to a celebrity who can charge up to $75,000 (we’re looking at you Kim K.).
74% of people turn to social networks for guidance on purchase decisions.

Sharaya Jackson, marketing insights specialist

 

Personalized content 
When studies are showing that 90% of consumers like custom content from brands, it’s definitely time to invest. Brands must embrace (or continue to embrace) personalized content in 2018. Audience segmentation tools make this a simple task, allowing you to break down your audience by various demographics, interests, and other brands they’re affiliated with; their engagement with your existing content and website; and existing customer information like email lists. Knowing when, where, and how your audience consumers content can help you determine specific strategies for each of your social channels.

42% of Americans find brands and companies less truthful today than 20 years ago. Personalized content, when executed well, can help brands nurture strong relationships and gain trust with their audiences.

Highlights:
• Over 78% of consumers will only engage offers if they have been personalized to their previous engagements with the brand.
Customers spend 20-40% more money on companies who engage with them on social media.

Jessie Hill, account executive

 

Chatbots
Messaging apps are taking over social media, with the top 4 messaging apps garnering more active monthly users than the top 4 social networks. Facebook has been investing in this space big time, purchasing its rival WhatsApp for $19 billion dollars in 2014. People’s love of personalized content and social messengers has created a new opportunity for marketers and businesses to send and receive messages with users through chatbots. Chatbots are essentially a computer program used to simulate human conversation.

There are command-based chatbots or more sophisticated bots built with machine-learning capabilities that use artificial intelligence to provide users with a more natural experience. They can assist them with everything from buying shoes to checking the weather to purchasing a plane ticket. As more users interact with chatbots that use AI, the better they become at predicting needs and better understanding user’s intent. With the technology and possible applications of chatbots continuing to expand, this trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. B2B brands can use chatbots to automate customer experiences and assist with customer service communications.

Highlights:
Messaging apps have 20% more monthly active users than social networks.
WhatsApp is the largest messaging app in the world with more than 1.3 billion users.

Sharaya Jackson, marketing insights specialist

About Two Rivers Marketing

Two Rivers Marketing is a full-service business-to-business (B2B) marketing communications agency. Email us with your thoughts or questions at blog@2rm.com.