Ahhhh, digital media. Where would we be without it? From meeting people to buying daily necessities online, we’ve become dependent on using a variety of digital platforms every day. There are aspects that we love about it and parts that we are not so in love with. So, instead of writing resolutions for 2018 that we know we would have broken (by like tomorrow), we've decided to reflect on our favorite/least favorite digital trends of 2017 and predict some upcoming trends for 2018. Read more below!
1). Our Favorite Digital Trends of 2017...
Milana - Instagram is probably my all-time favorite digital platform because you can connect with so many different brands and people...all across the world. So, my favorite digital trend of the year was the poll option added to Instagram stories. Being able to have a mini poll option on your Instagram stories is a great tool for interacting and getting followers to engage with you. What I liked about the poll option is that Instagram also let you view how and who responded to what question. From a business standpoint, this feature is a cool way to help learn what your audience does/does not respond to.
Angela - My favorite digital trend of 2017 is social media commerce & product tagging. Although Facebook commerce launched late 2016, it really started to become popular last year. We started seeing more brands add shopping capabilities directly on their Facebook page rather than links from their website. Instagram also began their product tagging, instead of needing to "see link in bio" for the products featured in the photo, we can click direct links on the photos. This is both a blessing and curse for me. On the marketing angle, it’s awesome to make shopping that much easier for potential customers right where they already are. However, for the impulsive buyer that I am, it’s trouble. Who doesn’t love scrolling Instagram only to find the perfect pair of sunglasses that you never knew you needed, and with the single tap of a finger, it’s in your cart and next thing you know, they’re yours.
Kerry - My favorite digital trend is video. Video is everywhere! It makes content easier and quicker to consume. Fun fact is that one-third of online activity is spent watching video. Video marketing is one thing all marketers should be using right now. Video is here, and it’s here to stay.
Valerie - Insta-story. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit negative about this feature when it first launched. Mainly because I was a loyal fan of Snapchat, and I kind of despised the fact that Instagram aka Facebook was yet again, trying to do everything and be everything. *insert eye roll*. However, I’ve since got on board and love its engagement for brands/businesses. Insta-story is incredible for growing your engagement, building brand awareness, driving traffic to your website, and even making e-commerce sales. Sorry, Snapchat. You’re still the original in my book.
2). Our Least Favorite Digital Trends of 2017...
Milana - Instagram’s algorithm change. Instagram is constantly updating their algorithm and changing the user experience which is great...sometimes. When Instagram first launched, and what people loved about this social platform, is that everything was instant. When someone uploaded a picture, it instantly showed up in your news feed. However, fast forward to 2017 and when someone uploads a picture, it may show up in your newsfeed four to seven days later. Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but when I follow people or brands and they have major news or deals that only last 24 hours and I see that post a few days later - it is irrelevant.
Angela - I'm in total agreement with Milana that Instagram’s algorithm has been an issue for me in 2017. It was fine for me the way it was and they just couldn’t leave it alone. I’m sure they have their reasons, but when you show me an image days after it’s been posted, you’re losing the “Insta” in “Instagram”.
Kerry - Algorithm on Instagram. Are you feeling a trend here? It’s discouraging when I’m scrolling Instagram and come upon a good sale to then see that it ended 4 days ago. The algorithm is lowering reach and engagement across the board. Now is, more than ever, the time for brands to be optimizing their content and trying to hack the algorithm to their advantage.
Valerie - I’ve said it before, and I’m going to say it again. Twitter. I should also preface with, it’s not a “trend” this year either. But, it’s definitely my least favorite. Its news traffic is much less than even Facebook these days. It’s dying. It’s boring. I just don’t get it. Plus, have the user accounts not gotten incredibly, extra, annoyingly obnoxious this year? Okay, how can I not mention at least one other “least favorite” digital trend? (I have so many) The other least favorite trend is the spying that either my phone or Facebook or Pinterest or whoever wants to own up to this invasion of privacy does on a daily basis. It is not a coincidence that the office randomly talks about mouse traps one afternoon and all of a sudden my pretty Pinterest board is filled with “DIY Mouse Trap Ideas”. Stop!
3). Biggest Digital Surprises of 2017...
Milana - The biggest surprise I saw in digital this year was Net Neutrality not passing. There seems to be a lot of confusion on what Net Neutrality is, how it being denied impacts users and what the future of the internet will look like now. I was shocked that something as free-standing as the internet, that has been moving along on its own for the last couple of decades, will have government intervention in it - after all these years.
Angela - I will say when I read the headline “6-year old made $11-million dollars reviewing toys on Youtube” ….I was floored. Self-made millionaires via social media aren’t so new, but 6-year olds?! The power of digital is real, folks.
Kerry - The biggest surprise of anything digital - how big smart speakers like Amazon's Echo and the Google Home are becoming. About 20 million homes already have a voice-activated assistant, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. Privacy is such big deal and having a machine being able to listen to you talk privately in your home is not something I thought people would go for. It’s always listening. But then again, if you don't want third parties listening to your conversations then you probably should get rid of your smartphone too.
Valerie - Okay, I may be way behind on this, but I just learned of the term, “Bitcoin” this year. Surprisingly, it was in a swanky Las Vegas cocktail lounge by some guys who run a startup in Silicon Valley. (I knew a LV work retreat would be educational) Turns out I should’ve invested in digital money, like 15 years ago.
4). Biggest Trends for 2018...
Milana - The biggest trend I foresee in 2018 is the quality of engagement on digital media increasing. Lately, every digital platform seems to have similar algorithms and is oversaturated with user profiles. With the changes happening with the internet, I think the people that are going to pay for certain apps and platforms will be more serious about using these platforms. What this translates to for business owners is that they can get even more targeted with the content they are posting. In return, the authentic engagement will increase.
Angela - Chatter about Generation Z is on the rise. We’re talking middle-school kids who get more likes on their Instagram photos than worldwide brands. They were raised in this digital world and they definitely impact it. It will be interesting to learn more about this up-and-coming generation and their digital behaviors.
Kerry - This is something that we, TSH, have always practiced, but now more than ever is an essential part of your Instagram marketing strategy for 2018. Are you ready for this? Your Instagram profile will become your new home page. It’s super important to spend time curating photos and copy for your Instagram feed that matches your brands aesthetic just as you would spend that time on your website. Your Instagram profile is just as important as your website home page.
Valerie - Content Marketing. Although, not a trend - It’s here to stay. Content marketing can take many forms – videos, blogs, infographics, podcasts, micro-content, etc. 70% of people say they’d prefer to learn about/engage with a business through an article rather than an ad.