Tweet, tweet, tweet. With the amount Twitter was talked about in 2016, you would think they were the dominant social network in the world. Ah, but if they could only monetize and cut down on the noise.
As we all witnessed, Twitter got a lot of coverage, but mostly for what politicians were saying, not for innovation. Twitter proved that monetizing chaos is a difficult task and that only innovation increases daily active users.
So what’s going to happen next year? If my predictions are anything like 2016’s, I’m going to be off, but I’ll give it a shot. Here are four predictions for digital marketing in 2017.
1. Instagram will become the new Facebook.
The U.S. elections shook Facebook to its core. What was once a generally happy place to experience and share has turned into a political battleground with fake news. A majority of social media users go to social networks for escapism, so a hostile environment will naturally turn them off.
Instagram, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same political- or news-oriented content. This gives Facebook a bit of a conundrum. Should they increase the algorithm so people create smaller bubbles and narrower lenses, or police hateful, outright false content? Or do they let Instagram be the happy community driver?
My prediction is that Facebook will attempt to keep its platform as open as possible and let Instagram serve its “happy sanctuary” purpose. Facebook will still have huge impact for marketers, but it will see a dip in daily active users. I also predict Instagram’s daily active users will shoot up to rival Facebook numbers.
2. Voice search will take over.
Siri was nice; Google was better; Alexa is great. We are at a tipping point with voice search. Not only is it more accurate than ever, it’s extremely easy. As an SEO/SEM strategy, if your organization is not using content and copy to answer the questions people are asking most, good luck getting clicks.
We’ve always preached the problem-solving strategy, but with voice and natural language search, the relevance compounds. Use tools like Answer the Public and MOZ to find what people want, and deliver on the longtail. I predict that voice search will increase 3x in 2017 as AI and the available devices with voice recognition proliferate the consumer market.
3. Content experience budget will grow past traditional advertising.
Brands have realized that if they create rich, engaging, and sometimes immersive content, they don’t need traditional advertising. I believe you need both, but the amount of time and budget going into creating experiences is going to shift. Brands don’t have to go the way of Oprah and give away cars, but they do need to stand for something and invite their general consumers into the experience.
My prediction: Rates for traditional media buys are going to drop slightly, but the story, production, and campaign are going to become much more costly.
4. Wild card: political risk
The election was an awakening. Polls were wrong. Pundits were largely wrong. It appears that a large section of America spoke up, and I believe marketers are now rethinking their messaging strategy.
This isn’t really a wild card, but more of a certainty that messaging will not stay the same for some of the largest marketers. My question is, where will it go? Will brands become more nationalistic, or will they run counter to what the election resulted in?
In some ways, we are in uncharted territories (in both mediums and transparency), but in others it seems similar to not-so-distant periods of history. My only hope on this subject is that there aren’t massive consequences for marketers who take risks and push the messaging envelope.