A new year is upon us, which makes it the perfect time to review your current digital marketing strategy and improve it. This year will likely bring about quite a few changes in the digital world.
From new bells and whistles launched by social networks to changes in customer needs, there’s a lot to review before you put pen to paper. Here are 5 digital marketing tactics and trends you need to know about in 2018.
Instagram hashtag following
Instagram introduced hashtag following in December 2017, arguably one of the biggest disruptions in social media marketing. Users now have a new way to follow hashtags and see top posts and Stories about a topic on their home page.
So not only can you follow your favorite accounts, but also your favorite hashtags. This is a huge feature and it will impact your Instagram marketing strategy. Here’s what you need to know about hashtags:
Quality is essential
Blasting out content with tons of hashtags won’t get you in people’s feeds, reports Tech Crunch. To filter spam content associated with your favorite hashtags, their algorithm will show posts based on the quality of the post and the time it was posted. So, make sure quality is a priority as you create images and videos for Instagram.
Don’t overdo it
It’s tempting to use more hashtags. The more varied, the more people you can reach, right? However, using 20-30 random hashtags can look spammy – both to viewers and potentially to the Instagram algorithm. Instead, try using 6-10 hashtags per post, as Agorapulse’s Social Media Lab suggests for the best engagement.
Only use hashtags your target audience would use if you want to build an engaged Instagram following. There’s no point to reach people that have no interest in your brand. Plus, competition is high for popular hashtags with millions of associated posts.
User experience across channels
Customer expectations change rapidly, but thankfully the direction is quite clear: improved, seamless and prompt customer experiences on various channels is the way.
Put simply, customers want the best service – no matter the platform or channel. This is evidenced by the growth of customer service chatbots. Right now, there are an estimated 100k monthly active bots on Facebook Messenger. What’s more, 2 billion messages are sent between people and business each month (both automated and user-initiated) on Messenger.
Customers are increasingly using social media, including private messaging, to contact businesses. If you’re not there to respond (in a timely manner), you’ll miss opportunities.
Snapchat and stories beyond
Snapchat started a hugely popular trend that was later adopted by other social networks. Instagram Stories, in particular has grown over the past year; they now have an impressive 250 million daily active users (compared to Snapchats’ 166 million).
Even though this type of content disappears after 24 hours, unless added to Highlights (in Instagram, for example), that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. In fact, it could soon become more effective, as Instagram rolls out “add links within stories” for verified accounts, and hopefully the rest of the platform soon.
Video continues its reign
Video is king right now. Then compared to other formats, video gets the most engagement, social media shares, and generates the most leads and conversions.
Video has always been popular, but as new types of videos appear (e.g., live streaming, snaps, and so on), it’s become even more popular. The great news for businesses is that it’s no longer time-consuming or expensive to create video content given the sheer number of video marketing tools at our disposal (including your smartphone).
SEO and the rise of voice search
Is your company website optimized for search engines? If so, you’re on the right track. However, it’s time to also consider voice search. In a survey from Google, half of 13 to 18-year-olds and 41% of adults said they use voice search on a daily basis. These numbers are only expected to grow. Search Engine Land reports that by 2020, over half of all search queries will be voice search.
The same Google survey also says most people use voice search when multitasking, and usually ask for directions (especially adults – 40% of them). As voice search becomes the norm, more people will opt for Alexa or Google Home in their houses – and use smartphones enabled with voice search.
The opportunity for businesses optimize content for voice search is vast. This is particularly great news for local businesses. Voice search optimization will require some creativity – or rather, realism. People search for things differently when they speak, in contrast to typing a Google search.
If you need directions to a certain café, Example Café, for instance, you’ll likely Google something like “Example Café address.” On the other hand, if you use voice search you’re more likely to ask: “Where is Example Café” or “How do I get to Example Café?” Basically, you need to create a different SEO strategy for voice search optimization to ensure easy discoverability.
It’s impossible to predict everything that will happen with digital marketing in the coming year; after all, a new social network could show up out of nowhere. You can never really know for sure everything that will happen – but there are some things you can still rely on.
What are your digital marketing predictions for 2018? Where should entrepreneurs and business owners focus their attention? Let me know in the comments below.
This article has been edited.
Highly regarded on the world speaker circuit, Lilach Bullock has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street. She’s a hugely connected and highly influential entrepreneur. Listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. She is listed as the number one Influencer in the UK by Career Experts and is a recipient for a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business. Connect with @lilachbullock on Twitter.