The risky challenge of social media predictions
When you write a monthly column on a platform of professional bloggers, you’re called on to make predictions. It can be a very risky adventure. However, if we look at the changes that are taking place and the emerging trends, it’s possible to get a good idea of the future.
With the emerging technological innovations and the power of Generation C connected consumers, it’s difficult to predict where we’ll be in the future. Today, all that can be certain is that the acceleration of the changes will continue over the next few years. It’s possible to refer to different studies carried out among the professionals to get the pulse of the market and know the future trends.
Here are the top 20 trends I observed over the past few years. These could further mark the evolution of influence and content marketing over the next 3 years. I maybe dreaming, but I imagine:
1 – Brands will integrate the concept of confluence marketing
If trends continue, marketers will have their own guns, and adopt a more socialist approach, moving away from direct sales targets. Confluence marketing, which merges relationships – influencers and content, will be a priority for companies and SMEs in digital marketing strategies, as demonstrated by the Traackr/TopRank Marketing study: Influence 2.0 – The Future of Influence marketing.
2 – Marketers will use a new approach and become guides for users
Companies will change their marketing approach. They’ll guide users through the sales process, rather than vendors. They’ll adopt a “reverse marketing” approach, focused on the popular values of the population; wellness, health, social and economic equity, and quality of life will become part of the brand message. This new H2H (Human to Human) approach will make it easier to establish customized customer relationships. That’s what we also call social selling: brands should stop just talking about themselves, and let users sing the praise of their excellent service.
3 – Companies and SMEs will optimize with automation
By prioritizing confluence marketing strategies, companies will shift their advertising budget, and significantly increase their resources. They’ll involve each department in digital marketing strategies. SMEs will use virtual assistants, management software and automation solutions to plug the leak of resources (team and budgets). A wise use of automated marketing tools will help them to compete with other brands which have larger budgets.
4 – The roles of management personnel and influencers will be defined
The main role of the staff will be clarified and will facilitate the use of company ambassadors, as the influencer relationship. Senior management (C-Suite) will be more involved in influencer relationships and content marketing and will encourage creation, production, and dissemination by staff and employees.
5 – Public relations will become the backbone of influencer marketing strategies
Public relations will play a pivotal role within organizations. PR will guide management and team members in influencers and media relationships to meet the expectations of clients on social media platforms. They’ll also have to protect the company reputation and branding by correctly managing potential crises. In fact, they’ll play a “coach” role with the web/social media team with respect to strategic planning.
6 – Ambassador programs will become the lever of social transformation
Human resources will collaborate closely with public relations to bring departmental staff in alignment the objectives of the company. They will ensure adherence to company policy and effective management of ambassador incentive programs. PR will introduce continuing education programs in the organization to regularly upgrade digital skills. The company will develop a brand vision which will demonstrate greater social involvement.
7 – Brands and organizations will think more like web publishers
With confluence marketing, companies will think more like web publishers. They’ll become their own media company, placing high-quality corporate content (Branded Content) at the heart of their digital marketing strategy. There will be a rise in the ¨news room¨. Organizations will develop a culture of curating content along with corporate blog writing to feed and balance their distribution schedule through the influencers channels.
8 – Video content and podcasts to be the main information channel
Because of rapid consumption (content snacking) and a viewer using mobile screens, video content will promote storytelling, and prove to be the focus of younger generations. Taking advantage of live video (Facebook, Twitter) and the pervasiveness of mobile technologies, journalists will be reborn. Podcasts will become the new blogs of niche influencers.
9 – Confluence marketing strategies will align with the customer experience
To respond to the many iterations of the consumer-connected customer journey, and the multiple channels used, content marketing strategies and relationships – influencers will be focused on the different stages of the purchasing process. To easily manage this brands will use automated management solutions. Content-based software packages will gradually replace static corporate content.
10 – Marketers will expand their notion of ROI with new goals
Marketers will expand their idea of return on investment by adopting new goals with their social media marketing, as demonstrated in this research from Traackr/TopRank Marketing: ¨Influence 2.0 – The Future of Influencer Marketing¨. Marketers will expand brand awareness before reaching new audiences.
11 – AI, augmented reality and geolocation will target a client more precisely
Advancement in AI, AR and geolocation will allow a company to follow the customer through the purchasing process and to retarget the message accordingly. They’ll create new forms of communication that will encourage the growth of social gaming. For example, in 2016 PokemonGO became the most downloaded game in 70 countries, generating revenues of more than $200 million US in one month.
12 – Analysis of data – users and machine learning will customize brand offers
The data gathered about users and their behavior will allow sales messages to be personalized to increase the quality of the offer. Data mining and speech recognition will help software robots (Chatbots) improve customer service with machine learning.
13 – New visual technologies will put the user at the center of the experience
Drones – cameras, 360 video applications, the rise of augmented reality video glasses and 3D printing will literally place the user at the center of the action. They will enhance the customer experience. These new technologies will find useful applications in real estate, architecture, health, urban planning, and engineering.
14 – Companies and SMEs will use opinion leaders to create durable content
To increase the reach and credibility of the message and attract new audiences, companies and SMEs will make more use of bloggers and opinion leaders to co-create quality content. Relevant long-form content will be sought after and consulted. Blogs will become the preferred channel for niche influencers. Gradually, plus-valued text content will be balanced with visual (and temporary) content.
15 – Micro – influencers and niche influencers will replace celebrities
Stricter regulations will gradually eliminate “influenceratis“, and will restrict niche influencers. Recommendation campaigns and temporary content sites will lose the interest of marketers. The cost of engaging influencers will be more standardized, and placement agencies will disappear. Only marketplaces offering complete services will remain, and relationships with influencers will improve considerably with information rights management solutions.
16 – The rise of independent entrepreneurship will redefine the roles of influencers
The rise of independent entrepreneurship, combined with the uberisation and outsourcing services will encourage the growth of gig economy. Web marketing freelancers will offer B2B influencer services. The role of influencers will be redefined and integrated into a multi–functional relationship approach with brands.
17 – The gig freelancer economy will lead to a blockchain and cryptomony transactional system (Bitcoin)
Gig freelancers will forward the adoption of new social and alternatives system, like Bitcoin (blockchain and cryptomony). This economic transactional system requires the validation of ¨Proof of Work¨ and ¨Proof of Stake¨ will modify the relationship with influencers and help redefine the role of influencers.
18 – Brands and organization will introduce e-learning programs with experts
To help their employees to stay educated on new products or services, or as policy and processes change to adapt to new technologies, brands and organizations will use continuous e-learning programs. They’ll ask thought leaders, experts and influencers to contribute with webinars and online workshops.
19 – Marketers will use a multi-functional influencer model to optimize ROI
Influencer Relation Management (IRM) solutions will help organizations maximize their ROI by adopting an omni-channel and cross-platform approach. They’ll promote retargeting objectives and performance measures (retargeted measurement). With a contextual analysis, they’ll maximize the use of appropriate key measures (KPIs). This cross-functional model will integrate paid, earned, shared and owned media.
20 – Social and solidarity economy will encourage an influencers community
The growth of influencer marketplaces, who act as booking and representative agencies between influencers and brands, will gradually be replaced by influencers, thought leaders, experts, and specialists who will unite to build new communities.
What do you think about this list of predictions? Do you think these trends will usher the influencer relationship to a new level of maturity, or is this just a wish list? Share your opinion with our readers.