3 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2016

Marketing is constantly changing, this we know. In the last few years, digital marketing has experienced huge changes, so much so that brands are forced to keep pace with the technology causing those changes.

With 2016 rapidly approaching, brands need to begin to develop the strategies necessary to stay competitive. Now more than ever, it’s important for marketers to stay ahead of the curve instead of following everyone else.

Here are some marketing trends that can change the way brands reach consumers in the coming months and beyond.

Snapchat Will Become a Standard Marketing Platform

Just like Facebook and Twitter before it, Snapchat has faced the question, “Is this really a place where we can reach our target consumers?” Just like other social giants, marketers will come to realize that Snapchat isn’t just a tool for fun “marketing experiments.” It’s actually a platform that users are going to in droves in order to digest social media in real-time.

Real-time is the operative phrase. Since the inception of social media marketing, brands and agencies have been searching for the best methods to deliver integrated campaigns that make others feel connected. An important piece to keeping the younger generation of consumers interested is by offering exclusive content that has an expiration date. The “one size fits all” marketing tactic no longer works. Snapchat is the perfect platform for making consumers feel connected and unique, all at the same time.

If you’ve been following the 2016 Presidential Campaign, you’re seeing that the candidates are turning to snapchat in order to connect with voters. The writing is on the wall for all marketers to see. If you’re planning and looking to 2016, there’s no need to look further than the beginning of 2015, when Snapchat launched “Discover”. This “portal” allows brands like ESPN, Vice and the Food Network to push their messages to avid consumers of media.

The results have been positive so far, however, there’s a real beauty with Snapchat other platforms can’t offer. That beauty is that it turns the advertisement into the product, something that brands won’t be able to ignore.

Search Goes Beyond Search Engines

With Facebook currently working on tests for its own search engine, search is almost certain to go beyond Google, Bing and Yahoo. One obvious marketing benefit that will come with stronger search capabilities within social media is the the visibility of these brands will be sure to see an increase. Include this with the fact that buy buttons and payment messaging will become social staples in 2016 and you’ve got a “soup to nuts” platform.

With advanced search capabilities, integrated payment methods and the social backbone that powers a Facebook or a Twitter, consumers will not only make purchases, but they will chat with their friends about what they bought and post the social proof of their newly bought items. Advanced search means integrated social experience that expands to commerce.

Instagram is Ready for Take Off

Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012 and since then they have been consistently making small changes to the photo sharing platform. Only recently did these smaller changes snowball into some big developments for the platform.

Facebook is not the social media network that every local business needs to have a Business Page on, accompanied by an advertising package so that you can reach the followers you worked hard to gain.

Once upon a time, reaching your followers on Facebook used to be free, just like it is on Instagram. However, with Instagram offering advertising in the form of “sponsored posts,” you will need to pay to ensure that your post is seen by your target audience.

Instagram advertising gets really great results for its advertisers. The app says that their ad recall is 2.8 times higher than other online advertising platforms, making it a great option for business looking to get the most bang for their marketing buck. On top of this, tools that combine trending topics on Facebook and Instagram, like Signal, shows that Facebook plans to continue integrating Instagram into its platform.

Conclusion

2016 is rapidly approaching so the earlier you start, the more time you will have to adjust and reap all the benefits of a forward thinking campaign.

SEO for PR Professionals

A large (and growing) number of companies are deploying some form of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Because of this, these companies are dissecting their communication practices with the hopes of harnessing the power of the internet. Companies of all sizes are taking down the silos and integrating online campaigns with their offline campaigns and vica versa. Additionally, lead generation via the web is becoming more important than ever, even for those who were not traditionally considered part of the sales funnel, like PR. If you’re in PR, then you’re in luck. There are plenty of opportunities for you to show measurable results, but only if you know how to take the wall down and mesh your PR efforts with your company’s SEO strategy.

So, what does SEO involve?

SEO is a lot of things, it’s making sure your on-page dynamics such as Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, H1-H6 Tags, linking issues etc… are exactly what they need to be. SEO also involves off-page dynamics. Where are your links coming from? What are they linking to and not over optimizing your “anchor text”. When these two dynamics work together, SEO takes shape and you will see the volume and quality of traffic coming to your site via search engines increase. This of course is under the assumption that you have done some initial keyword research and have determined what phrases you want to target.

Many PR departments aren’t to worried about on-page dynamics such as website structure. However, the PR department does influence a number of areas that can determine your SEO success or failure. This is where the opportunity lies for your PR team to contribute and benefit from a company’s SEO strategy.

Influencer Engagement (Bloggers)

Most bloggers include links to relevant websites within the different articles they write. This goes for media websites as well. Additionally, many of these influencers have already done the leg work and created a community who all have the same passion.

Let’s take an outdoor lifestyle influencer (blogger) as an example. Let’s say this particular lifestyle blogger’s website gets over 5,000 unique visitors per day and also has over 35,000 Twitter followers, 25,000 Facebook Page Likes and 10,000 Instagram followers. You being an outdoor gear company would be a perfect fit and it would likely be quite easy to engage/work with this particular influencer. Creating content and sharing your offering with this blogger’s community.

What exactly should you do? You can encourage all of this by engaging yourself:

Link back to relevant posts, retweet/favorite tweets from community influencers. Additionally, you should be working just as hard to position your company as an authority or influencer online. This will put your business on other’s radar screens. This “top-of-mind” presence can translate into important visibility and publicity opportunities.
Develop relationships with bloggers and link back to their own blog from your company’s blog. Do this only when it makes sense.

Stay on top of what community influencers are talking about and what the people in those communities are engaging with.

Language

Understanding how online audiences communicate with your business, your products and services, even issues they might be having and using a consistent voice in your online communications is one of the blocks SEO was built on. What PR pros need to understand and utilize is the keywords that the SEO team ID’ed.

Tactics you can use:

Write news releases with search engines in mind and include the keywords your business identified.
Offline, and much like your content, when talking to news outlets, reporters, influencers or any external party, the one talking should include those keywords. Keep this consistent in your organization as well. By “training” all employees to use a certain language (keywords), increases the chances of various blog posts and articles consisting of those keywords along with your company name and a link to your site. If done correctly, this could all work together and become a great way to gain inbound links to your site which is necessary for SEO.

If you have a blog, keep it up to date! Consistently posting on your company’s blog puts you in a favorable position with search engines. Your blog can work double time when you mesh important keywords into blog posts. Doing this will force your blog to work as a communications tool as well as a visibility tool.

With this crossover, how does one effectively manage each and every task? Well, just like any real life relationship, communication is key. As the SEO team works more closely with your PR team the two departments will need to communicate. A LOT. What you don’t want to happen is have each team perform the same task without the other one being updated with developments. Communicate while working on joint projects otherwise you will be duplicating the workload.

Conclusion

It’s no secret that engaging content which is targeted at the correct audience won’t just increase brand awareness, but it will also encourage people to share. Content has really become the glue that binds SEO and PR together. These, at the core, are the two main goals of any search engine optimization or public relations professional. Additionally, any relationship a PR expert makes with an influencer could be a game change for your SEO team. In its simplest, joint PR and SEO goals may develop stronger digital marketing plans which assist in ultimately spearheading brand visibility.