I spotted an interesting account of Five Social Trends Marketers Won’t Be Able to Ignore in 2016 over on Advertising Age.
It paints a challenging picture.
It suggests things are – and will become – yet more frantic in digital as we get into 2016.
‘While the speed of social has always been dizzying – new platforms, behaviors, memes and audiences are born and die every minute – the year ahead promises to be especially frenetic.’
But one principle that, it seems to me, emerges as quite anchoring is brand advocacy.
Let’s take a look.
Advertising Age heralds 2016 as ‘an adapt-or-die year’ and talks about ‘tectonic shifts in the way people use social networks and consume media’.
It paints a picture, pivoted around:
- The rise of ad blocking
- The growing dominance of one-to-one messaging
- The move to ‘pay-to-play’
- The growing challenge of optimising content
This is a world where marketers have their work cut out.
How to harness and promote a brand across platforms where everything is shifting, not least the users?
The piece highlights 5 emerging trends that, it says, will shape all of our marketing futures.
What we pull out, though, is a few clear messages about how brand advocacy fits. And how its role will grow only more critical.
Trend #1. Rise of messaging
One trend is the rise of one-to-one messaging over ‘broadcast social’. In other words, increasingly, folk are communicating one-to-one again, less posting to a broader audience.
‘While one-to-one messaging soars, Facebook has noted that its users are posting less and less – in fact, only 20% of millennials use broadcast social networks to post photos and videos at all.’
It talks about the ‘critical challenge’ faced by marketers ‘trying to find authentic ways to fit their brands into one-to-one messaging platforms without annoying their audiences’.
But of course genuine brand advocacy is personal. And can be communicated one-to-one. It is not ‘advertising’.
The challenge is real. But advocacy may be part of the answer.
Trend #2. Snapchat is TV
The second trend seems to be: know your platforms. This includes scratching a little under the surface – seeing how people really use them, which is what will shape each platform’s evolution.
Snapchat, says Advertising Age, ‘isn’t the next Facebook or Instagram, but the new TV’. See this, and target and budget accordingly.
Be canny about your approach across different platforms – properly canny. Don’t just throw content at them.
With Snapchat, then, for instance, says the piece, approach it like you might TV. ‘Think appointment-watching, awareness and buying eyeballs – not growing communities, editorial calendars and real-time marketing’.
By the same token, do grow those communities. Just across platforms where the soil is right.
Trend #3. Ad blocking
Ad blocking is not a bad thing for a brand that has understood the power of advocacy marketing.
‘Now that Apple’s joined the war on interruptive ads,’ says Advertising Age, ‘and the use of ad-blocking software has risen 48% within a year, brands will be forced to shift even more of their resources to social media, native advertising and influencer campaigns.’
Shift away, we say.
‘2016 might be the year of the nail in the coffin for digital display ads,’ suggests the piece, ‘meaning brands will need to rethink the role of digital and its place in the purchase funnel’.
Well, that’s fine. Because there are very real alternatives…
Trend #4. Closed networks
The piece describes a world of ‘closed systems’, where platforms try to keep people in.
Here’s how it puts it:
‘Snapchat doesn’t lead outside the network, Instagram barely does and Facebook is making every effort to keep users from heading outside of its walled garden.
Even on Twitter, it says, ‘users are increasingly hesitant to click on links’
Again, though, you can turn this to your advantage. As long as you’re willing to embrace brand advocacy marketing: engage with your ‘fans’ and join the conversation.
Meet them where they are: inside the walls of those various gardens.
Trend #5. Video bar rising
The content you do put out will need to be just right, and expertly tailored to each platform. Standards – and expectations – are endlessly rising.
‘Gone are the days of posting your brand’s video to YouTube and syndicating it across other social networks’, says the piece.
‘Now a video needs to be optimized for every platform it’s posted on in order to bolster its chances of success.’
It needs to work well, and differently, depending on the platform, and it needs to be tailored to each audience.
‘And deciding on a bespoke paid and influencer strategy for each platform also ratchets up the complexity’, warns Advertising Age.
You need help from experts in the field. We all need help from each other.
‘With VR [virtual reality] looming in 2016, and live-streaming gaining even more momentum, pushing out that branded content continues to get exponentially more difficult.’
Yet ‘pushing out that branded content’ is exactly what advocacy marketing achieves so delicately.
And we know it’s key to this brave new future.
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