This article is written by Kelly Ehlers, Founder and president of Ideas That Evoke, an influencer and social media agency focused in the beauty, lifestyle and luxury markets for Forbes – Original article
Change happens at the speed of technology for marketing professionals, but your agency can adapt to this rapid pace by leveraging these changes.
My agency recently attended Facebook’s F8 developer conference in San Jose. We learned how platforms like Facebook and Instagram are helping businesses scale their reach while still maintaining those individual connections that forge brand loyalty.
Here are a few tips to catch up on the latest tactics and look ahead to marketing technology predictions on the horizon.
Engagement starts with attention.
In today’s market, attention is a commodity and engagement is the way to gain it. It’s not enough to simply have a presence on social and mobile — you need to engage your audience. Since technology is developing with engagement in mind, it only makes sense to leverage this by adding tech-driven engagement tactics to your content marketing strategy. All those likes, comments and shares lead to more than good feelings — they lead to increased visibility and conversions.
Track your journey.
Among F8’s most impactful announcements is Journey by Facebook Analytics, which displays the touch points of an individual user’s interactions with a brand. It takes the guesswork out of identifying e-commerce shoppers who look at a product a few times before purchasing or only place an order if they can use PayPal or a saved credit card. Behavior patterns are recognized by this tool to show the individuals who, for example, started their journey on mobile and then dropped off before reconnecting with the brand on their desktop. In effect, it quantifies a user’s attention.
Stories are getting traction.
Instagram Stories are a great example of how brands can use each platform’s growing list of formats to increase engagement. I wasn’t surprised to hear Facebook CPO Chris Cox share that Instagram Stories are expected to surpass timeline content by next year. Stories are an accessible way for brands to integrate engaging, interactive content into their strategy. The platform improved its Explore search function, which increases visibility. Instagram Stories are providing new tools for interactive posts, from augmented reality (AR) filters to GIFs — and it’s especially relevant to brands working with influencers.
It’s the little things.
It might seem small, but little features like GIF stickers can make an impact. The introduction of branded GIF stickers is takingInstagram Stories further by effectively putting a brand’s seal on user-generated content (UGC). In my experience, UGC performs well and demands minimal resources for brands, offering a high return on investment. Since the value of UGC lies in its authentic quality for consumers, brands cannot manipulate images with edits or branded filters — but the influencers themselves can. A branded GIF sticker, for example, is a quick way for UGC to achieve a uniform visual look that instantly brands the image — all while maintaining the authenticity that users want to see. They also increase conversions, encouraging users to post with their products — and maybe use a branded GIF sticker and hashtag — creating instant UGC.
Tap into the latest creative techniques.
Commercial content is taking a new shape, quite literally, with advanced technology. An increasing availability of accessible tools and technology — like upgraded iPads and Oculus Go virtual reality headsets — are driving new techniques of personal content creation in subcultures. In turn, creative users are accessing the tools to transform media platforms, which is driving trends in the commercial realm. Video and motion graphics are only gaining popularity, but that’s just the start. Creative departments are experimenting with Cinema 4D, a sought-after 3D modeling program. With 3D functionality in the News Feed, e-commerce advertising has new opportunities to engage users. When creative departments pair this technology with strategy, branded content can rise to the top among the most engaging social media posts.
Put connections first.
During F8, Mark Zuckerberg made it clear that he was focused on creating “meaningful connections” across all social media platforms. But how do you quantify something like “meaningful connection” in a high-traffic, abstract social space? For agencies, it starts at home. In our office, we always say to over-manage the details and keep that personal touch. Find what makes your work stand out and stay true to that. An engaged, passionate team of content creators and account managers is going to truly connect with users on an interpersonal level. Tech can be exciting, but it should always serve to meet consumers where they are and advance your messaging. Leveraging tech can strike a balance between digital visibility and bringing that personal, human touch to our work.
Stay curious and look ahead.
Looking ahead, it may be possible for digital marketers to communicate with consumers more directly. Early adopters of blockchain technology are exploring the value of this advanced transactional system in a time when data, privacy and transparency are a priority for advertisers as well as consumers. Augmented reality and voice search create frictionless user experiences, unlocking entirely new touchpoints for brands that change the way we advertise — and, in general, the way we communicate. Even automated cars are opening doors to new ways of advertising by shifting gears on where our attention can travel.
As I continue learning about new technology and tools, I get that same familiar feeling of entrepreneurial excitement from back when my agency took risks — and raised eyebrows — in the early days of social media marketing. I recommend checking in on your sense of curiosity and adventure as you advance your agency into the ever-changing future of marketing technology.