Key digital trends for 2017

Ever feel like you can’t keep pace with the digital scene? You’re not alone. Even for someone like me (who works in the industry) it’s a constantly shifting landscape and I try my best to keep my skills current (attending courses, meet-ups and networking). But it can feel a bit alienating when you attend a conference and one of the speakers is 24-year-old Steven Bartlett, CEO of a global agency Social Chain (I felt a bit like Mrs O from Acorn Antiques in comparison). OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but the point is if I felt like that, then how bewildering must that be for others trying to get to grips with the digital scene.

 

Steven was speaking at an amazing conference I attended today called Digital Gaggle. It’s a digital marketing conference today run by Noisy Little Monkey – a search and social media marketing agency in Bristol. I’m always looking for opportunities to enhance my digital knowledge and get to know people in Bristol and it was a great opportunity to do both. I’m currently trying to get my head around all the different data analytics tools available to measure web and social media traffic and engagement. It’s not my natural playground if I’m totally honest, but I’m determined to enhance my knowledge and feel confident discussing it.

I had a great chat with a delegate about the way marketing has changed so fundamentally. In the old days before digital marketing it was much harder to measure success in a tangible way: for example you could never prove how many people read a press ad and then went on to buy that product as a result. With the advent of digital analytics you can pinpoint the exact route that customer took to the point of purchase. The ability to prove this precisely and quantitatively has split marketing into the ‘analysts’ and the ‘creatives’ – if you can manage to straddle both then I bow down to you.

The speakers at the conference today were full of inspirational stories and happy to share their inside track on different aspects of the industry. I’ve outlined below the key points I took from today which I thought it might be useful to share for anyone with an online presence.

KEY DIGITAL TRENDS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN 2017

LIVE VIDEO
Already gathering popularity on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook – streaming will become ubiquitous across platforms. Get ready to watch a lot of crap on Facebook as people accidentally click ‘live’…

THE ‘STORY’
The ephemeral video feature which began life on Snapchat (copied by Instagram) will dominate and move onto other platforms. I’m a big fan of this and the fact it disappears after 24 hours means any mistakes will die too!

RISE OF THE MICRO-INFLUENCER
The celebrity status of the mainstream influencers such as Zoella and Deliciously Ella etc) has created a gap in the market for the micro-influencer (20-30k followers). It’s a numbers game – if you have over 500k+ followers you simply can’t engage with them all and brands want access to engaged audiences. Micro-influencers offer brands this access with niche, hyper-engaged audiences (and they are a lot cheaper). As Holly from Noisy Little Monkey, says: “size isn’t everything”.

SOCIAL LISTENING
Attention spans aren’t dwindling: they are in perpetual motion, according to Steven Bartlett from Social Chain. We are all simultaneously consuming multiple media platforms: watching TV, scrolling through Instagram, checking Twitter, surfing Facebook, browsing shopping sites. Brands are increasingly using sophisticated social listening software to track what you are talking about, searching for and following online (it’s all a bit Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror if you ask me!).

MESSAGING APPS & BOTS
Ever thought of WhatsApp as a social media platform? No, me neither until today. But apparently in the Far East private messaging apps are the dominant players and big brands are getting in on the action. This success is being replicated elsewhere in the world and it’s coming our way, with the use of artificial intelligence bots.

My final thought however is not about technology trends, but something I hold closer to my heart. It was a message from the final speaker of the conference Lisa Myers of Verve Search: if you want to succeed in the digital world then you need to show passion, grit and hustle. Think what can do you for the person sitting next to you, and help elevate them. Well, I may not be literally sitting next to you, but hopefully my blog post will help ‘elevate’ your digital knowledge and awareness. That’s what I love about the digital scene – it’s all about collaboration and democratising information. I may never get to grips fully with Google Analytics (or be a creative geek) but maybe there’s enough room for everyone to stand out in their own way.

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