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Matthew Ong

3 digital trends to watch in 2017

Love it or hate it, the digital marketing landscape is ever-evolving. For some of us, the constant change presents new ways of reaching out to the masses. For others, it means an endless chase. Whichever case it is, at the speed with which marketing trends are unfolding, it will come as no surprise that a great number of brands struggle to ensure that their marketing strategies move apace with those new trends. And this struggle stems from their inability to keep up with current trends and anticipate changes.

I can’t see into the future, but I think I can make a good guess of what will be on the digital marketing horizon for 2017, based on my observations. Here are my top three predictions for this year!

1. Let’s go Live

First, there was Snapchat. Then came Periscope. Now we have Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and YouTube Live. Heck, even Whatsapp is introducing stories with Status! As consumers’ thirst for real-time and authentic content increases, live streaming is poised to take off. Brands entering the live space are getting creative with their streaming platforms: Apart from the usual product demonstrations and product launches, they also conduct live interviews and host Question and Answer (Q&A) sessions, offer exclusive behind-the-scenes content, and give free live tutorials.

Every week, Benefit Cosmetics goes live with their in-house experts or influencers to give makeup tutorials and dish out beauty tips and tricks. Along with those, the brand also features Q&A sessions to amplify engagement. The live broadcasts average 25,000 views. Plenty of other brands like Lowe’s and GE followed suit: Picked up their cameras, pressed the red button and went live.

While some brands create their own live content, others tap on their influencers’ live-streaming channels to reach out to consumers. Whatever form or nature these live content videos take, we will definitely spot more of them being utilised by brands as the medium to engage, connect with and inspire their audience.

2. Virtual Reality (VR) becomes normalised

VR technology which is capable of transporting anyone into a whole new world, has been around for years. Only in recent years, however, are we seeing more brands experiment with it to deliver immersive brand experiences to their customers.

Haagen-Dazs has a story to tell about a cause close to its heart: The waning honeybee population. To up its brand storytelling ante, Haagen-Dazs turned to VR technology. For three to five minutes, viewers were shrunk to the size of the honeybees, flying with other bees while learning what the species were experiencing, striking a chord in viewers’ hearts.

Fashion houses and brands such as Topshop and Dior are also using VR to showcase their wares, and at the same time, offering their viewers backstage passes within the comfort of their own homes to watch models being prepped for their turn down the runway.

Did I also mention that VR is considered by many to be still in its infancy, which got me really excited to see what it has to offer!

3. Rebooting chatbots

A chatbot is a chat robot that mimics conversations with visitors of a website – either through text or audio. Nothing new, but thanks to advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), a revolution is taking place. Loads of brands such as MasterCard and American Express, are tapping on chatbots powered to:

  • Deliver richer, more personalised experiences and more meaningful interactions to their customers
  • Collect data about their customers, allowing it to better understand behaviours

That is not all. We have also seen brands of all stripes bringing chatbots to messaging applications. You may remember, in 2016, Tommy Hilfiger launched its Facebook chatbot named TMY.GRL. The “fashion bot” tries to understand users, shares content about Tommy Hilfiger’s collections based on their needs and offers them instant customer service.

The year ahead will see more brands joining the chatbot movement.

Keeping your antenna up

So those are my predictions, especially with the ever-waning attention span of people, these digital trends will reign supreme in 2017. It could be daunting to immediately deep-dive into using these technologies all at once, but why not take one step at a time? Dip your toes with Facebook Live first, then get in touch with your customers with a chatbot. It could yield good results!