We are reaching a phase of rapid progress in the social media and digital marketing space. As our means of receiving content become mobilized and virtual, the way we shop and explore products has completely shifted. We saw the seeds of evolution planted in 2016’s most popular trends and I predict that many will continue to grow and develop in 2017.
Looking back at 2016, we also saw a predictable rise in social commerce – Instagram and Facebook ads enabled marketers to bring shopping to users right on the page with price-tagged image ads. Female-dominated Pinterest’s buyable pins launched back in 2015, but continued to grow as a revenue source for retailers on the site. Facebook’s change in page layout also enabled business pages to sell products directly from their profile. Facebook also took note of the popularity of selling groups on their platform and created a digital marketplace for users to buy/trade/sell locally, which just launched in October.
In social trends, streaming live video went mainstream with the launch of Periscope in March and Facebook Live’s steady rollout. More and more users and advertisers are using the Facebook Live feature to tell their stories in real time. It got easier than ever to bring people to events as they happened thousands of miles away, or for artists and brands to show what they’re working on.
We all hailed Snapchat as a fun way to share video and image content with friends in real time. The intimacy and novelty of disappearing content held real appeal to users, but didn’t work out as strongly for advertisers who tried to adopt the platform in their strategy. Nonetheless, Snapchat’s success with ephemeral content inspired Instagram to add a Stories function which allows content to be viewable for only 24 hours.
The 360 video trend has created a new creative space for advertisers and content producers to give their viewers an interactive experience from anywhere in the world. Tier10 even took advantage of VR tech. Check it out below.
As of 2016, 80% of Internet users own a smartphone. It’s safe to say that mobile usage has exceeded desktop Internet access, which means that mobile marketing should have been a core component of your overall marketing strategy. If it isn’t, it’s not too late to shift your priorities for 2017.
The Future is Now
So where do we see these trends going this year? IRL and the digital world are edging ever closer to the point of seamless integration.
The rise in social commerce means retailers will continue to enhance the experience of bringing the store to the customer. I can easily see a fusion of VR with this: imagine taking a virtual tour of a dealership showroom and being able to click on vehicle pop-ups as you navigate through the video or panoramic image. Social commerce is going to come closer and closer to mimicking the experience of shopping in a brick and mortar store.
On the other hand, Amazon is bringing the digital shopping experience to the real world through a combination of machine learning computer vision, advanced sensors, and AI. Amazon Go isn’t open to the public until later in 2017, but it enables customers to walk through their physical retail space, take what they need and leave with all items and payments tracked through the virtual shopping cart in their Amazon account. Amazon Go will be a total disrupt to the way that physical retail is handled.
Disappearing content will continue to grow. Facebook looking to is looking to mirror Snapchat’s success with a Stories function just as Instagram already has. They’re calling it “Messenger Day” and are already beta testing in Europe. The benefit of adding this feature on sites like Instagram and Facebook lies in the fact that brands will be able to tell short stories that grab viewers with their immediacy, then give them a way to see their cultivated page content to explore further.
Live video took off like a rocket and our prediction for 2017 is that the experience will soon be commoditized with the addition of in-stream live video ads. We see these on broadcast TV already and with Facebook or Google at the helm, we don’t see ad blockers being much of a problem for advertisers in this medium.