We are living in a new age of influence.
An age where news break around the world in seconds and citizen journalism is on the rise. An era when the majority of the world’s population has now plugged-in to a powerful online platform and where the continuous stream of new content and opinions flow like a river after the floods.
We are living in a time when one word – the internet – stands as the most significant revolution in communication history.
It is now a question of whether or not your business is keeping up to speed with the online metamorphosis.
What’s the difference between online PR and offline PR?
Public relations now has the ability to drive sales and growth and ultimately, revenue through more platforms than ever before.
So let’s define online PR: this involves activities fitted towards influencing media, audiences and communities that exist exclusively on the Internet using online channels. This includes blogs, search engines, news search, forums, social networks, discussion threads, and other online communication tools. Brand reputation monitoring and management is also a focus area for online PR.
Offline PR handles the same things except with radio, print, TV, conferences/events and other “real life” venues. One difference between online and offline PR is in pitching. For example, before pitching a print journalist, the publication’s editorial calendar is researched to see if there are any planned story opportunities. The subsequent pitch is specific to the upcoming story.
Regardless of the medium or the pace at which technology changes, the traditional principles of online public relations will continue to remain the same.
The more PR you do, greater potential for even greater media exposure
PR is not just media relations
- “doing outreach” itself is PR
- Other PR examples include:
- Special Events
- Special Promotions
- Public Affairs
- Internal Relations
- Community Relations
- High Tech PR: blogging, social networking
In order to get individuals to hear you, you must prompt many important influencers that your business, its services or products are worth their time to consider.
Listen, Create and Engage with audiences
Step one: Listen
The first step to successful online public relations is to listen. A business must listen to and monitor what is being said about their company, product or brand online, who is driving these conversations and where these conversations are being held. This research will provide a solid foundation for effective online communications. This ground work is vital in giving your company confidence to enter online conversations with the right content, in the appropriate space, to the correct audience.
Step two: Create
Create relevant content to post online. Regardless of the platform or technology a company decides to use, every piece of information posted by your company online must be relevant and of interest to the target audience. Fresh and new content will draw people continuously back to your company’s blog, website and social media pages. This will assist in raising your company or brand’s profile while also establishing your company as a thought leader in your chosen area of interest.
Step 3: Engage
The most important, a company needs to view online communication as a process of continuous engagement. Without interaction, social media tools can quickly become another broadcasting mechanism. Interact with others online by commenting on blog posts, replying to followers on Twitter, entering forum discussions and responding to tags. Make sure when engaging online to be personable in your approach. Any hint of a ‘sales pitch’ will be easily identified and your company’s presence on the social media platform may be hindered as a result.
The highly interactive world of the Internet has its obvious advantages and disadvantages, so any digital PR strategy requires careful consideration. But with the ability to listen and react to conversations, engage with consumers, provide compelling content and exploit new visibility avenues, the benefits are incredibly far-reaching.
A month into this New Year, and we can see some great and dynamic trends hacks and ideas for and innovations emerging for Marketing and Branding in 2018.
Yes, 2018 will see quite a few new trends emerging, although some of them will really be reiterations of some trends we have seem emerge across the last couple of years. Here are some trends you need to follow and keep track of, to stay on top of your brand’s digital marketing game and international game.
1. Phygital marketing
PHYGITAL MARKETING: WHERE THE PHYSICAL AND DIGITAL WORLDS CONVERGE
This is my huge one for 2018. Digital will no longer stand alone as a separate discipline. It really just cannot anymore.
The digital landscape has transformed the way people communicate, share information and receive their advertising. Digital marketing can be integrated into all traditional methods of advertising and PR, making it an engagement marketing essential.
When the physical world taps into the digital world, the “phygital mashups” that are created can really hit your audience in a deeply engaging way. When people interact with a brand in a personal way by participating and engaging, they are far more likely to become brand advocates and word of mouth marketers.
Phygital Marketing engages us by tying into things we do, see and interact with in our everyday life
In order for ‘digital’ to work, it will need to be seamlessly integrated into real-life experiences – and this will really be this whole ‘experiential’ trend that everyone is talking about. In particular, at sporting events, at concerts, we are seeing the online and mobile experience leading into the actual physical – and, as well, blending the two, often with AR and VR playing a key role. This will become big.
2. Augmented reality goes mainstream
Before smartphones existed 10 years ago, most people would consider spending five hours daily staring at your phone as crazy. In 2018, the bent-neck trend will start to reverse itself.
AR will customize in-store experiences with mannequins that match your body type and display enough virtual inventory to rival any online site. Merchants will create AR experiences with their packaging so that demonstration videos can appear when you look at the product on the shelf or celebrity spokespeople can magically stand in the aisle to pitch the product. Virtual pop-up stores can be built to appear anywhere that crowds are gathered (in a stadium, a busy street corner, or even inside a subway). The number of use cases for AR is potentially staggering. Users could place virtual furniture in their homes before they buy to see how well it fits within the actual space (which IKEA have already done). Augmented glasses could highlight only gluten free items to the user when walking around a supermarket, saving people time picking out suitable products. And, more generally, overlaying more information about products as customers walk round physical stores or look at the product in public spaces could prove to be a powerful conversion tool. How much of an impact AR will have to the average brand going forward remains to be seen but, at the end of 2018, we should have a much better idea. AR (Augmented Reality) will be a lead in Social Media -Brands on social media will need to take a serious look at using AR. With our smartphones becoming more powerful, social platforms will start to integrate AR technology, and this will enable brands to use AR and social in interesting new ways.
3. Prominence on quality over quantity
As digital marketing has developed and content marketing has emerged as a leading element of it, the world has unfortunately become awash with second-rate content. Today, any digitally savvy brand is aware that it should be putting out content for its audiences to engage with, but far too many forget that this content should offer legitimate value to those viewing it. Anyone can consistently put out 500-word articles repeating everything their competitors are saying, just to be part of the conversation. Ask any marketer if they plan on producing more content in the coming year and the answer is likely to be a resounding yes.
2018 should see a shift in the mind-set of content marketers. Yes, brands should be creating content that engages and inspires their audiences, but the mentality of ‘more is always more’ needs to change. Instead, organizations should focus on putting out quality, relevant content, even if this comes at the expense of volume. It might be an idealistic cry from commentators in an attempt to slow down the huge tide of unnecessary content but, as poor content will undoubtedly perform badly, 2018 should be the year that brands realize the power of ‘less is more’.
4. Video marketing has arrived and here to dominate.
Video is the most popular and influential form of digital content for digital marketers today, and it holds the power to persuade better than any other content medium. With attention becoming an expensive commodity, what with multi-tasking, brands will need to re-focus energies on video content – to get better search ranking, better engagement and better content recall The demand for video marketing content shows absolutely no signs of slowing and in 2018 video will continue its dominance as the marketers’ favorite medium. 52% of marketing professionals surveyed by Hubspot consider video to be the medium with the best ROI, while 43% of consumers said that they wanted to see more video content from marketers.
This year, Facebook rolled out 6-second ads, which encouraged brands to tell stories within extremely limited time constraints as a way of getting a message across to the user more quickly. The rise of video consumption on mobile means that, while scrolling through a feed, users’ attention spans are minimal. YouTube has been promoting its own 6-second stories to show what can be achieved in that time, and expect to see brands experimenting with playful storytelling in 2018. Video is as ubiquitous as it is effective – 2018 should see brands working hard to stand out among the noise.
– And, make that Live Video. Every social platform now offers some form of live video – and most are trying to out-gun each other will various new features and ways of using live video. To really best utilize the power of live video, it will need to be high quality, delivering content that has value for the consumer, and be structured and organized – while still, of course with the reality of it being live. That’s going to ba a challenge, but with advances in technology, and better pre-planning, I’m convinced good content creators will win this game.
More video? Mobile Video…
Mobile video ad spend will grow 49% to roughly $18 billion in 2018, reports Recode, while non-mobile video ad spend is expected to fall 1.5% to $15 billion. You can expect to see a decline of video consumption on laptops and computers for the first time — while video views on phones and tablets is expected to grow by 25%. The average viewer is expected to watch 36 minutes of online video per day on a mobile device, as opposed to half as much — roughly 19 minutes — on a computer.
5. 2018 is the year of the bots
2018 is the year of the bots
We all have gotten use to speaking with bots whenever we call to make airline reservations or to confirm our bank account balances. The use of natural language bots will expand from use as automated customer service agents to become routine for daily living.
Home bots will do more than just respond to requests, to being able to provide timely information such as, “It’s time to take your medicine.” Imagine a bot whispering in your ear “don’t make that purchase or you will be over your credit limit” or “your parking meter expires in two minutes.” Bots will help with the children, act as financial investment advisors, and be an omnipresent value-add from the brands you trust.
Watch out for more adoption of brand-customer or brand-audience conversations (see voice marketing, later) using platforms like Google Home, Amazon Alexam Microsoft Cortana and more. I’m beting that this aspect will become part and parcel of our lives – and speaking to a connected device in our moment of need (Google calls these micromoments) will be commonplace. As technology better grasps natural language processing, this will make it second nature for us.
6. Micro Influencers
Think of micro-influencers as digital influencers with a total audience size of between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. Surprised with the audience size? There’s data to support it: Micro influencers are 4x more likely to get a comment on a post than are macro-influencers (who usually have ~10 million followers). Micro-influencers are more likely to post about specific niche topics and they have the loyal followings that share their passion and a staggering 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 33% trust ads. With more than 32% of internet users enabling ad blocker in 2017, it’s increasingly harder to reach users and micro influencers can bridge that gap moving into 2018.
7. Voice as marketing tool
With voice search increasingly taking over the way we search, with our mobile phones now almost surgically attached to us, voice as a marketing tool should really come into its own this year. We are increasingly going to ask our phones, our cars, our smart fridges to do things for us, and brands have a huge opportunity to stand by, and become a handy resolution provider at that time of query or need. This will be a whole new kind of content marketing.
8. Augmented Reality Gaming (MORE A.R)
Imagine shooting zombies while walking in your own bedroom! Thus, the biggest use of AR gaming to-date is definitely Pokémon Go, allowing users to catch virtual Pokémon creatures that are hidden throughout a map of the real environment.
- Through mobile devices like smartphones (tablets also), AR acts like a magic window
PC and connected TV players
- Augmented Reality also works through a webcam and broadcast through the screen
Head mounted displays, glasses and lenses
- AR becomes a part of your entire field of view, preparing for more life-like AR experiences – almost feels like Ironman with the help of the intelligent system Jarvis
- What to Expect from Augmented Reality?
- The market is ready to strike hard towards AR. The technology is on a rapid and quick rise thanks to the success of Pokémon GO and some other popular apps as well. The public is hungry for more and more Augmented Reality experiences. Our AR future is at hand, and we are now more than ready. From gaming to research to business, we may be entering a golden period for this technology
9. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Combined with big data and machine learning, AI is expected to make a huge impact on how we market to our consumers. Users can expect highly-customized content delivery, automated based on their persona and lifestyle. Starting an AI strategy can be costly and require specific skill that are often hard to come by as the role is in such high demand. However, the large upfront investment shows promising results for those willing to take the plunge. For example recent data captured from the Salesforce State of the Marketing Report where high-performing marketing teams are more than 2x as likely to use AI in their campaigns than under-performers. 57% of marketers using AI already say it’s absolutely or very essential in helping increase touch points with customers.
10. Organic Food
With nearly 22 million hectares of land used for organic farming, Australia is the world’s leading nation when it comes to the greatest amount, as well as greatest expansion, of land dedicated to organic production. It has more land than Europe, Africa, and North America collectively. The great majority of it is used for breeding grass-fed beef, but Australian organic sector is also producing wine grapes, grains, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts.
The idea of producing healthy, chemical-free food quickly grew into the grow-your-own-food movement, so garden owners started adding edibles to their gardens. Besides veggies, fruits, and herbs, they also keep chickens and bees for eggs and honey. Some are growing hops and grapes to make their own beer and wine, while others have taken things one step further by harvesting rainwater for irrigation purposes. Certain plants are also grown for their medicinal properties.
11. It’s all Natural Beauty
Target has been leading the charge on natural beauty since 2008. Since then they’ve offered natural and “better for you” brands, including Burt’s Bees, Yes To, Pacifica, Seaweed Bath, S.W. Basics, W3LL People and Fig & Yarrow. “This year, we’re rolling out a new beauty store experience and are dedicating prominent space near the centre of the beauty department to natural beauty offerings,” said Courtney Foster, a Target spokesperson. In addition, they’ve launched a natural beauty page to make finding naturals products easier. “Given how important it is for our guests to what is in—or not in—their products, Target recently implemented a new chemical strategy that is one of the most comprehensive chemical policies in US retail. This policy promotes ingredient transparency and bans certain chemicals in beauty, baby, personal care and household cleaning product categories by 2020,” Foster said.
Another example is Unilever. It has emerged as one of the most progressive players in the natural beauty space. Earlier IN 2017, the company promised improved transparency in its ingredient lists, specifically lifting the veil from “fragrance,” one of the most mysterious items on a product’s ingredient list. At present, manufacturers selling products in the United States aren’t required to disclose the ingredients that go into the fragrance under the guise of “trade secrets,” but many natural beauty companies do anyway, and by the end of this year, so will Unilever.
Natural deodorant is another hot topic, which is projected to grow more than 15 percent every year until 2022. Procter & Gamble got a head start and acquired buzzy brand Native, which is aluminum- and paraben-free. Like Unilever, the corporation vowed to disclose the ingredients in “fragrance” by the end of 2019.
12. Work/Life Balance
Webb’s research points out 90% of college grads felt “lost in translation” when they started that first job because boundaries to get tasks done are traditionally much more defined in the real world. Small businesses will continue to move away from the conventional 9 to 5 regiment that comes with a cubicle to a more negotiable looser set of standards that mimic college life.
“College is a 24 hour intersection of work and social interaction and work/life balance is going to be a huge trend in 2018,” Webb says. “College grads are used to working in a specific way and where they want. Give them the ability to get the work done and they will.”
A New Level Of Comfort In The Workplace
Office fit outs are about creating a home away from home feeling. This is done by providing cosy, welcoming lounges, communal canteens, and comfy break-out areas.
This helps make the working environment better which helps to make employees feel more comfortable and valued. Furniture that is used in most residential settings is now being used in office spaces that ultimately create a warm, eclectic, never-want-to-leave-the-office feeling.
Also, Wellness programmes encourage physical and mental health. Work gyms, showers and breakout areas that provide complimentary healthy refreshments are some of the few offerings that can create greater employee satisfaction.
The office space is heading towards exciting things next year as companies get innovative in their way of thinking
That’s just the top trends for 2018and some of these predictions will probably fail to come to fruition as technology and the expectations of consumers change. Nevertheless, many of the trends outlined here are likely to come to pass.
Based on current trends, marketing is likely to become more analytical, and more focused on digital marketing through organic search, voice and social media.
Do share this, and comment below. Thanks. Have a wonderful and meaningful 2018.
Trends 2018: Omnichannel is the New Normal
As smart technology enters our homes, cars, work and leisure time, marketers have the opportunity to innovate and reach potential customers via ever-expanding touch points. No purchasing decision is too small and omnichannel marketing is the new normal in 2018.
Shopping: Mobile Integration
The future of shopping will be phygital as we see options to purchase in both the physical and digital realms. Mobile is the common denominator between customer retail experiences. Deloitte in the US reports that more than 90% of consumers now use their phones in the shopping process.
According to Think With Google people are also using their phones as an “in-store research adviser” with a massive 82% of smartphone users saying they consult their phones on purchases they’re going to make in a store. Online shopping South Africa is forecasted to grow to over R53 billion in 2018 and it is estimated there will be over 21 million active smartphone users here within the next five years so mobile shopping integration is an imperative for marketers in 2018.
Home: Your Voice is Your Command
The Annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was held recently in Las Vegas and the home of the future is truly something to behold with everything geared towards a technologically integrated lifestyle. The dominant tech feature of 2018 is voice assisted integration, the question is, whose voice- OK Google, Siri, Alexa or Cortana?
For marketers this means relooking at their brand platforms to ensure they are optimised for voice search. For an idea of how big this is and is going to become, Google Assistant is now available on over 400 million devices, and the global predictions, summed up by Branded3 are:
- “50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.” – comscore
- “About 30% of searches will be done without a screen by 2020.” – Mediapos
- “We estimate there will be 21.4 million smart speakers in the US by 2020.” – Activate
- “By 2019, the voice recognition market will be a $601 million industry.” – Technavio via Skyword.
Social Media: Personalisation
It’s only natural that in 2018 we might start yearning for more “human” interaction. How can social media help? By becoming more personalised. Social is going to need to reassure the user (if they want to keep them) that they know them better than Siri or Alexa does. The days of marketers churning out generic content are almost over.
On the up side, marketers have the skills and tools to create content which is genuinely useful and ads which reach the correct target market. In terms of personalisation, INC.com mentions “Social Listening” as one of the trends this year, and I agree. Analytics need to be more than tracking growth; they need to monitor what people are saying and act on the feedback. Ironically, it’s Chatbots which will give customers some of the personalisation they’re looking for. There are at least 100 000 monthly active bots on Facebook Messenger and a staggering two billion messages are exchanged between brands and audiences each month.
In closing, 2018 is going to be the year of the consumer and by extension, time to make your brand’s omnichannel presence a strategic priority.
Jainita Khatri, Managing Director, Prana Business Consulting
About Prana Business Consulting
Prana Business Consulting is a marketing partner to your business. Using omni-channel principles, Prana builds a connection between your brand and your client. Prana drives high performance and tangible results in Marketing, Branding, CRM and Social Media. Prana leverages industry specialists to deliver customized solutions for baby, beauty, health and wellness brands, locally and internationally. Prana is a level 1 BBBEE certified company.
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