At the end of each year experts from all walks of life release their predictions for the following year. Trends that we need to be aware of and hunches that may just prove to be indispensable over the coming year. It’s interesting to read these articles, but it is even more interesting to wait and see how things pan out following these predictions. Here are our picks of the latest digital trends you may want to focus on to help grow your small business over the coming months. These are not merely predictions however, these are the digital trends happening right now, so there is no better time to hop on board.

1. Influencer Marketing

For many of us over a certain age, influencer marketing may have seemed like a flash in the pan when it began taking off last year. Whatever your age, or feelings about influencers, it’s time to make peace with it, because this digital trend is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

One of the main benefits of social media is that it helps to influence people by leveraging their social network. We know this and have accepted it for some time. When we pair this with bloggers, who have been creating content online for numerous years now, the two create a pretty potent combination. What we are seeing is that the line that separates celebs from influencers is beginning to blur. It happened with journalists and bloggers in recent years – now it’s the celebs turn. Essentially, influencers can now harness the same power as some of the worlds biggest celebrities, but with one distinct difference. Influencers are ‘just one of us’, they began with a small blog or vlog, they shared the ups and downs of life with their followers and as a result, are much more relatable than the A-listers who seem to live in a different world to the rest of us.

Influencer marketing is very powerful for the above reason but also because when they endorse a product, it is perceived to be much more genuine than a celebrity endorsement. This is due to the emotional connection between influencers and their social following that simply isn’t present between celebrity and viewer.

Influencer marketing is particularly useful in today’s digital world where TV viewership is dropping at quite surprising rates. (Google research has found that teenagers watch almost 65% less television than adults). This means that old channels of advertising are becoming less valuable. If you couple this with the reluctance of audiences to be marketed at and the increase in ad-blockers available online, we discover that we need to build relationships with our audiences through trust – and working with trusted influencers can achieve just this.

2. Niche Content

There is a heck of a lot of content on the internet. In fact, sometimes when we’re looking for information on a specific topic it can seem like we’re drowning in content. The question is how much of it is good – and how much is relevant? This is where the next digital trend focuses on.

Producing great content remains a great way to connect with your audience. However, mediocre content just doesn’t cut it. How often have you gone online to research a topic and had to wade through a number of articles that don’t quite pass muster in order to find an article that provides the information you need in an easily digestible, interesting way? We come across this problem all the time. It’s frustrating. The answer to this problem? Niche content.

If you can cast your mind back to when you were in school and writing English essays, you may recall being told that the answers which would garner the best results were not the ones that merely summarised the text in question, but were, in fact, the ones that showed you understood the question and gave your own opinion. We should be using the same idea with our content.

Instead of providing a broad overview of a topic, aim to delve into a specific part of that topic to answer the questions that your niche audience may have. Where niche audiences are concerned, assuming that they know less than they do can hurt you in terms of bounces off your page. Explain terms where necessary, but do not shy away from going deep into a subject because most people won’t understand it. Those that do will love it!

3. Exceptional Social

If like a grumpy teenager, you’re asking whether you really have to be sociable, the answer is a resounding yes! Digital trends continue to centre on social media as social media marketing continues to grow, albeit with some differences. For one, results from organic social traffic are increasingly difficult to achieve. The reason for this is that social networks want companies to invest in paid advertising and are making it harder and harder for organic social media to work for them. To this end, the quality of advertising content has to be spot on to ensure that it maximises the number of clicks it receives.

Instant messaging which has enjoyed phenomenal growth in the past year, is now a new potential source of social media marketing. Facebook has devised an approach in which a click on an advertisement in the newsfeed will open up an instant message conversation with the advertiser within Facebook Messenger.

 However, despite these changes, your effort on social media needs to remain consistent. Like that grumpy teenager, hiding in your room won’t get you the results your looking for when you need something from your audience. As always, be active, engaging and fun on social media for best results.

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4. Integrated Social

If you have been working hard at growing your presence on social media, the next thing on your radar ought to be integrating your social media into your wider marketing plan. This digital trend means that wherever people interact with you and your business online, they should be able to be connected socially. One of the most obvious examples of this is to include social sharing buttons on your content, wherever it may be. This allows anyone to share it if they feel the urge to.

If you have a website which requires registration and login to use, why not consider adding the option of signing up via social media? This makes the process much more straightforward for users and can encourage those who may have otherwise left at the registration window to continue with the process. A simple move like this can really increase user retention. In addition, sign-ups via social will increase the amount of big data you can collect which will help you produce better content for your viewers.

Other ways of integrating social into your digital marketing campaign are through the use of interactive content, such as quizzes – who doesn’t love a quiz that tells you what kind of chocolate bar you are?! This type of content is thriving on social media in 2019 with some of the biggest sites producing this type of content as it can direct traffic back and forth between your website and your social sites and it encourages your audience to engage.

5. Go Live

Video has become a heavyweight player in digital trends in recent years. Where cost and production requirements may have acted as a barrier to video for many small businesses in the past, these issues are becoming less of an excuse as to why you haven’t implemented video as part of your digital marketing strategy yet.

According to Hubspot, video now accounts for 74% of all internet traffic. However, audiences are now demanding more from video. They have most likely watched hours upon hours of YouTube videos in the past and are hungry for diversity. Small businesses can provide this by using new live video options, such as Facebook live. As live video is still a relatively new digital trend, now is the time to experiment and see what works for your audience. It’s not just Facebook either, YouTube, Periscope and Instagram are all moving towards interactive video.

We are living in a time of unprecedented technological developments in the digital world. If we, as small business owners want to continue to be an active player in the digital environment, then we must stay on top of the new digital trends as they emerge. It is not necessary to act on every single digital trend that comes along, some may be more applicable to one business than another. But don’t be afraid to mix it up and try new things from time to time. You might just stumble across a marketing gem you never realised would work for you.

 

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