The gifts have all been opened and the champagne has been toasted: 2018 is here! With 2017 behind you, what should you keep top of mind as you continue to market your business? We’ve rounded up some top marketing and PR trends for the year ahead:
- Reputation. With the digital and content marketing boom of the last decade, brands have increasingly lost the ability to control their own narrative. As the most valuable asset a brand can have, managing your reputation – online and off – should remain a top priority in 2018, as we’ve all learned “going viral” isn’t always a good thing. Having a strong media relations strategy, nurturing the right contacts and having a crisis plan in place before something happens is essential to protecting and growing your brand.
- Paid Social. Digital advertising spend exceeded TV in 2017 with $72.5 billion in ad revenue – a 22 percent increase from 2016. This growth can be attributed to the rise of social ad adoption by users – it has become the norm to be “sold to” on social. However, even as users have allowed marketers to advertise to them, they have become savvier, which is challenging marketers to deliver more quality content. Additionally, brands will have to work harder on social as the networks are tasked with improving user experience and sentiment, leading to shrinking organic reach on brand content – Facebook’s most recent announcement about news feed changes is just one example.
- Measurement and Analytics. 2018 is the year for social ROI. In 2017, the addition of shopping on Instagram, buyable products from Pinterest pins, Facebook’s collection ads and offline conversation tracking teed the new year up with tangible reporting that will deliver better insights on resources spent on social assets. With more actionable insights and increasingly sophisticated reporting, it will be easier to track spend and return across digital.
- Automation. Automation and bots will also find a sweet spot in 2018. From chatbots to automated responses in messenger apps, brands are using more artificial intelligence in their digital marketing efforts, including big names like Starbucks and The Wall Street Journal. Additionally, the AI technology behind in-home devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home will only get better and provide yet another way to not only deliver hyper-targeted messaging, but to also gain demographical data like never before.
- Augmented Reality. Augmented reality will be the reality in 2018 and beyond. With the explosion of AR filters on social media and the accessibility of virtual reality devices, brands are finding ways to use these futuristic themes in their marketing efforts to create rich, immersive experiences. If you haven’t seen this yourself, chances are you will, brands like Pepsi and the U.S. Army have already executed campaigns that use AR.
- Integration. The lines between owned, earned and paid media will continue to dissolve and blur as marketing trends become increasingly co-dependent, creating the truly omnichannel experience for consumers. What this means is content should be created in a seamless way so that it works across the digital spectrum – whether found in a press release, blog post, tweet or YouTube video.
- Pay-to-Play. As traditional media continues to compete and evolve in the digital landscape, it’s finding ways to maintain revenue, exclusivity and trust – with publishers and readers. This means more media opportunities for brands will have to be bought. That being said, even though you’re willing to pay for placement, doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed – relationships are still key. Being able to navigate these pay-to-play placements with media outlets is important and will still rely on quality relationships to secure valuable space.
So, what does all of this mean for you? It means the possibilities are endless, but that you should [still] be very strategic about your marketing goals. Don’t let a trend knock you off course because it’s a trend, and be absolutely sure your marketing decisions are directly tied to your business objectives. Lastly, don’t bite off more than you can chew – implementing emerging strategies can be resource intensive, so explore each one thoroughly and find how your brand fits, not the other way around.
Most importantly, however, be open to these new ideas so that your brand, product or company can evolve with your consumers.
Here’s to another great year!
— Malorie Pastor