The face of Social in 2020

Social media is evolving fast and more big changes are on the horizon for next year.

Here’s what to keep an eye out for and how it could impact your social media experience.

The end of likes

Well, not entirely, but the use of likes and emoji reactions are set to change in the future. With the powerhouse Facebook trialling removing counts from select Instagram profiles and soon on the flagship product itself.

They postulate this may help address the growing concerns over mental health and social media proliferation of negative self-image. It may also be a somewhat cynical move to enable the business minded gamification of likes at a later date. Whatever the reason the literal ‘faces of social media are sure to be changing tac in the next year.

Micro-communities

The users in the early internet era were highly engaged, butfor the most part separated into small communities of forum users. The rise of social platforms ended that, pushing everyone into multiple huge sets of online groups, which gave us better interactivity but far less identity.

As big platform politicking, unreliable algorithms, and the fear of fake news have grown, there has been a move back towards smaller, dedicated social networks where there is a feel of being more in control of the experience and personal data. Messaging apps and private areas within other platforms will continue to grow in popularity. With a continuing cycle of over-population followed by exodus to other platforms likely following in the coming years.

Alternate realities

Facebook has suggested for years that Virtual Reality was where it wanted the platform to move in future, which lead to its purchase of Oculus Rift in 2014. While that dream is still somewhat unrealised for the public, they have announced plans for Horizon, an envisioned huge user focused virtual world for multi-user interaction. Frequently referred to as the real-world equivalent to Ready Player One’s Oasis, it will likely be much more centred towards social interaction than a useable alternate reality. The beta test begins within 12 months.

Augmented Reality, already a mainstay of Instagram and Snapchat filters, looks likely to only grow in relevancy, though most notably we can expect more marketing application of AR in social advertising with utilities like Snapchat’s Geofilters being a great example.

 

AI social

Having maligned algorithms earlier this one could be surprising, but Artificial intelligence and machine learning are at a point where simple tasks can be performed pretty reliably. In 2020 bots and new forms of machine agents will become more widespread and visible in many of online communities.

They may well be used simply as help guides, finding information and people we may want to see, at its core, a hyper sophisticated ‘people you may know’. In the background programmes like these will keep evolving to moderate and analyse our interactions both for greater content awareness and eventual marketing efficiency.

The Fake News Cycle

The growth of technological masterpieces like mo-cap avatars, virtual influencers, deep fakes and politicised misinformation campaigns means what should and should not be in the media will be continuing to change in the next year.

We are yet to see a truly ground-breaking marketing manoeuvre using fake content as its corner stone, but you can guarantee anything that gains consumer engagement will soon be used for this purpose. Likewise, celebrities will start investing heavily in ways to both sell and protect their digital visage.

Social commerce

E-commerce, specifically the Facebook marketplace and apps like Shpock will grow ever more possible in our social arenas, moving past traditional digital shopping with their ability to monetise connectivity and sharing experiences.

A new Instagram storefront is likely to blossom exponentially taking its no nonsense rich image filled profiles and becoming a socio-digital sales portfolio of sorts. The afore-mentioned bots and personalisation algorithms will extrapolate the platforms’ user data and habits into more consistent and relevant ‘other people bought…’ etc. sections.

More legal scrutiny

The unfortunate backdrop to all of the above is the fact confidence in social media as a whole has been soundly tested of late. Privacy, digital surveillance, advertising data protection, abuses, failed unhealthy media mediation, and much more have all taken their toll.

The sad news is this is unlikely to be going away any time soon and even with government mandates and new in-house programmes in place to tackle issues, we can expect more regulatory moves and a glut of cases in the courts. The silver-lining? As more regulation happens, and social as a whole grows and spreads, businesses will take note and hire far more staff to control their online presence. A win if you’re looking to become a social media expert…

Geofencing and its role in marketing

Often some of the hardest businesses to make great digital marketing process work for are the ones that have geographical audience limitations. How can we effectively advertise for a hyperlocal business who only want their effective marketing reach to extend to the edge of their village? The usually accepted answer to this is persistent but subtle strategy to as much of the populous as possible, creating as many touch-points as possible with everyone. All well and good, but in reality, the efficacy of typical ad campaign likely won’t achieve desired results, that’s where geofencing comes into its own.

 

Geofencing as a concept is not necessarily a new concept. If you’ve ever been to a supermarket and noticed the trolley has magnetic wheels you’ve definitely been through a type of geofence. They can be best compared to – a virtual ‘movie laser grid’. In more detail geofencing is service by where an app or other software uses GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi or mobile data to activate an action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or exits a virtual location boundary.

 

While the majority of this blog will concern itself with geofencing’s application in the marketing industry it does have a lot of other uses within a vast range of businesses. They can be used to both interact with digital devices and monitor movement inside or between different fences. Some push messages and notifications to phones; others allow for the automation of business timekeeping; the checking in and out of company property; and some of the most common are used at logistics handling companies to track packages and provide real time data to their customers.

 

So, how does it work and what can it do for your hyperlocal marketing strategies. Well in simple terms making use of a geofence requires a software/app developer to create a virtual boundary around a location in a GPS or RFID-enabled application. This may just be a ring pulled out around a location on Google Maps, integrated with APIs, when developing their app. This digital fence will then trigger the programmed response when a location-service enabled device enters, exits or stays in that area.

 

The marketing application of all this is the last piece of the puzzle. The programs that run this sort of software can enhance visibility to the audience in the targeted area exponentially. Social media has become a much bigger player in the marketing ecosystem and takes full advantage of geofences with its advertising arrangements: Snapchat has its geofilters, that can add visible branding to consumers images when they are near certain participating locations; Facebook and Instagram use geofences to allow their stories and posts to be location tagged, visible to billions; and most social media with the capability to display advertising use geofences to allow better targeting of its platform users content. Push notifications are a fairly consistent part of the current mobile application infrastructure. The worst thing to be in marketing is forgotten, even if your marketing message isn’t visible it’s better to be in the consciousness of those you want to appeal to; so some applications use push notifications when people travel near points of interest to re-engage them. The fences can be used to engage with audiences or crowds at events allowing messages to be distributed or coordinated mass social media interaction, a very cost-effective way of reaching those already in the vicinity of the business.

 

The key things to consider before undertaking a geofencing project are:

  1. Know your audience, it’s all well and good to put up a fence around your business to retarget the customers and sales you’re missing out on, but if your goal is improved foot-fall the likelihood is the customers are not passing your location in the first place. Geofences can be set up anywhere, learn your target market and their habits, those places are the key locations for you, not necessarily your front door.
  2. Test different things, if your geofences don’t seem to be having the desired effect the ability to move them does exist! Starting out small is always the best way, maybe just a medium sized ring around the location you selected in from above. But things change, audience habits can shift due to the smallest of factors, and it is very unlikely to find your ideal location first time so starting small, A/B testing and progressive upscaling are key to a successful strategy.
  3. Stick to the point, one of the key limitations of geofencing and push notifications is their impact. Notifications are often limited to around 100-150 characters so making an impact in each and every message, as well as using great marketing first principals regarding calls to actions etc, are absolutely essential. Be direct, but interesting and incite engagement before a confirmatory ending that draws the recipient further into your process.

 

Geofencing is a great, and currently under-utilised, tool for the marketing community, but its popularity is growing at a great rate, now is the time to consider how it could help you.

Your Ad Checklist

The ad you put out into the world to advertise your business, is without doubt one of the most important ways you can connect with those people you want to provide with your service. It is, quite often, the first-time people have learned of your company’s existence, or felt the need to interact with you as a business, and as with all situations, the first impression is all important! So, how do you make that first impression really count, with a glorious well planned out and excellently appointed advert, so let’s start the checklist of things you’ll need to convert those people your ad meets into your happy customers.

Not everything in this post will be something you definitely need to be sure of before you come to a marketing agency with your ad idea wanting to start your campaign. The creative and targeting teams we have in-house at Seelocal are more than capable of aiding decision making or developing the many of these niche ideas for you to help create a precise and effective campaign. However, no-one knows your company better than you! So, the more boxes on the ad checklist you can tick off the better!

What are you Selling

It’s always good to have a strong intent, so knowing exactly what it is you want to achieve with your ad is paramount, even if you’re not a retailer not every advertisement needs to be selling a product, it’s just as important to sell yourself, your credentials, or even your reputation, the way you structure your ad should be indicative of your overall goal.

Who are you Targeting?

As good as it is to know what you’re selling, it’s also good to have an idea of who you are looking to sell to. Are you a school? Primary or secondary? How old are the majority of your pupils’ parents? Do they use social media? Are you a restaurant? What are the local patrons like? What sort of clientele are you hoping to attract in the future? The more you know all the better to target, the more people will pay attention and move through your marketing channels.

Where are your New Customers?

Of course, by this we mean what location are you hoping to focus on. One of the great strengths of online advertising and something that sets it apart from less quantifiable marketing strategy is the amount of focus a team, combined with a strong intelligent platform, can narrow the displayed ads to a given location. If you know the areas in your region you suspect are the most desirous of seeing your campaign, pinpoint targeting is an excellent tool to help move your campaign forward at a blistering pace.

What is your Brand?

Who are you? In reality all of the above questions to some degree fall within the remit of this big question but there are other factors to consider. A brand is everything about your business you want your customers to see, from the look of your logo to the colour of shirt you wear to the next meeting, if it involves you interacting with someone who is a potential customer, whatever you do, brands you. What is your tone of voice, are you personable and approachable or more corporate and officious? What colour do you use to signify different things about your business, are you letter heads a soft potpourri pink because you want to appeal to specific market, or do you use a striking orange for impact? All of these things can and will impact on the way your company advertises itself.

A Powerful Image

If you think about the last ad you saw it’s likely a few key things stand-out in your mind, one of those is sure to be the image the advert undoubtedly used. When people say a picture is worth a thousand words we like to think they know a little something about marketing. While a good picture is no substitute for some tempting words, we humans are very visual creatures tending to latch on to and remember important scenes we see. A few key things are important to consider when choosing your image: make sure you have the rights to it, no one wants to be sued, so choose an image you own, or can obtain the license to use from a reputable source; frequently, bigger is better, the ad sizes most often used can run between several hundred and 1500 pixels square, having a large high resolution image will help, it’s always easier to scale down rather than up; make it punchy, images are all well and good but the ones that work best are the ones that make the most impact, they usually contain a person where possible, relatable to the audience and preferably show some action or emotion (or both!) that engenders positivity toward your business.

A Strong Message

The other thing you will likely remember about that ad you saw earlier is part of the headline. While the image is likely what attracted you, or a potential customer, to the ad your real first impression of what’s on offer is going to be the attention-grabbing headline. For all the content of your ad a hierarchy will exist determined by the desired result of the campaign, however there will always be a headline, likely the largest and most bold type on the ad it will either be a statement of intent, ‘we are the business you’re looking for’ or an eye-catching query or statement ‘looking for a business?’ or ‘don’t do bad business’, the theory is simple, something that will capture your audience’s attention and make them read further.

Succinct Body Copy

Where you really want to advertise what it is you do is the body copy of your advert. If your image is the plate and your headline is an ostentatious colourful gourmet garnish that draws the eye, the body copy is the meat and potatoes of your ad. The most important thing to remember is that an advert is not something people have any intention of reading, they see it and are drawn to know more, as such its best to extoll your virtues as fast and free of complication as possible to avoid irking the reader. The ad should be a brief but powerful memory, its hard to remember all of that book you finished last month, but easy to recall what the person you fancied wrote in your yearbook, or what you put in your mothers last birthday card, keep it short and to the point.

A Call to Action

In the modern era every ad on the internet is the first link of a chain, whether it is advertising a deal on sandwiches or the services of a solicitor, if you click it, it’s probably going to take you to a related webpage which moves you closer to the eventual goal of the advertisement. But how to get people to click on the ad? That’s where the call to action comes in. Over years of research and psychological observation the common wisdom of our age is people are very much taught and innately follow instructions, as such a good call to action is a pointed statement or exclamation that tells the viewer what to do and hopefully makes it clear that clicking the ad will eventually result in the act happening. Some good examples of calls to action include ‘buy now’ or ‘find out more’ or even ‘improve your online ads’ really anything non-confrontational that creates a sense in the person who sees it that clicking that ad will cause them to be rewarded with knowledge or opportunity.

So there’s the beginnings of a checklist you’ll need to make the most of your marketing ads, there is a chance whoever makes and distributes your ads may want more specific guidelines as to how you want the ad formatted, what your branding entails, where you want your ad to redirect to, and importantly what your budget for the campaign is, however taking the above points as a base you’ll be able to approach your first (or maybe even 1,000th!) campaign with the confidence that the ad you’re going to show the world will give an unsurpassed and appealing impression of your company and what you offer to the world.

 

A Brief History of Digital Marketing

In a modern society, where over 170million people use various social media sites regularly, why is it that when it comes to how this way of life came to be, working professionals are unfamiliar with the core parts and features of digital marketing, and how it became the phenomenon it is today.

Luckily for you, we’ve done our research…

The first use of the term ‘digital marketing’ was in the 1990’s, stemming from the coming of the internet and the development of Web 1.0 platform which allowed users to find the information they wanted via the internet- however, information was not able to be shared at this point, leaving digital marketers unsure of just how successful their strategies would be as the internet was not yet a widespread concept.

1993 saw the first clickable banner ad go live, marking the beginning of the transition to digital marketing, along with many other new technologies within the digital marketplace. Later on in the year, Yahoo was launched receiving almost 1million hits during its first year.

The years following from this prompted businesses to optimize their websites to gain higher search engine rankings and with that came the launch of yet more search engines and tools.

The birth of Google came in 1998, along with the launch of MSN by Microsoft, as well as Yahoo web search. In the following years, all smaller search engines were either left behind or wiped out due to a lack of space for the search engine giants.

The world of digital marketing saw its first major surge in 2006 when a reported growth of around 6.4 billion in search engine traffic came about in just one month.

Opportunity for search engines was rising, prompting google to expand and introduce new products – AdWords and AdSense. AdWords are three line words that show at the top or the right of search engine results, AdSense is a cost-per-click advertising scheme. Google had realised the value of being able to analyse content received and target ads based on interests of users, which hence became a major concept in the business world.

The ability for users to become more involved and active participants, came with the reveal of web 2.0. This massively increased information flow volumes, manifold and brought in a huge amount of revenue for the digital marketing and advertising industry.

The cookie was then developed, to gain information about users which could then be utilised to target specific ads towards them, based on a variety of information such as previous searches and location.

The digital world is forever evolving and changing as technology only becomes more advanced. Statistics show that 99% of digital marketers use Facebook for marketing purposes, and 97% use Twitter. Budgets for advertising, particularly digital have been consistently growing within business in the past few years, as the need for local online advertising continues to expand and companies realise how critical it is to have active social media accounts and be monitoring user traffic and searches for your website or similar products.

 

If you are interested in starting a Campaign with SeeLocal, contact us- we’ll be happy to help.