Overall, 2016 was a year filled with changes and advancements in the digital space. We saw the introduction of ephemeral content on Instagram, changes in Google AdWords, innovations in live streaming, algorithm updates, and an overall increased focus on unique, creative content marketing. It may seem like a lot to stay on top of, but the good news is that 2016’s advances mean there are many ways to get inspired to better your strategy, test new tactics, and engage your customers on an even deeper level this year than you did last.
As you put together plans on where to focus your efforts in 2017, here are five marketing tactics to test if you want to take your strategy to the next level.
1. Live Streaming
2016 was a big year for live streaming. Facebook launched their live streaming service, Facebook Live, and after partnering with a handful of publishers, rolled the service out to all users. Twitter also upped the ante on live streaming in 2016 with a handful of impressive partnerships of their own -- notably, the Democratic and Republican conventions and, early in 2017, the Golden Globes. Twitter made live streaming easier for its users by allowing them to begin a stream directly from the Twitter app, where previously beginning a stream necessitated accessing Periscope. With these two major social networks making live streaming easier than ever before, now is definitely the moment to test it out for your brand.
If you’re just getting started with live streaming, you first want to brainstorm some ideas for content your brand can realistically create in a way that will feel spur of the moment and authentic. Some ideas might include:
How-tos: teach users all the ways they can use one of your products or show them how to maximize their use of a specific product.
Q&A: host question and answer sessions with brand experts. You can source questions from your audience in order to enhance engagement.
Events: broadcast an event your brand is hosting or taking part in to make it accessible to people who can’t be there in person.
Behind the scenes: take users behind the scenes at special events, offering them a glimpse into a world that’s usually closed to them.
Demos: teach users a new skill. If you’re a real estate company, for example, you might host a series teaching users how to stage their home to sell.
Tough Mudder is a perfect example of a brand that uses live streaming initiatives to help connect with their audience. As a brand in the health and fitness sector, going live on Facebook to provide viewers with helpful tips to get in shape after the holidays is a perfect fit.
Don’t forget to announce your live stream in advance of when you actually plan to go live -- you want to make sure your users don’t miss it. And capture those users upfront by writing a compelling, descriptive introduction to your stream so they’ll be more likely to stop scrolling and tune in.
2. Ephemeral Content
Expect to see a lot more ephemeral content this year. What’s ephemeral content? It’s limited life posts that disappear after a set period of time. And if you thought disappearing posts were only a thing on Snapchat, think again. Instagram launched their own ephemeral content feature, Instagram Stories, in the summer of 2016 and by extension, introduced the concept to a whole new audience (ie; anyone not also on Snapchat).
Creating content that is going to disappear after 24 hours might seem like an unattractive proposition to most marketers, but if that’s where your users are, that’s where you should be too. The good news is that Snapchat and Instagram Stories are both designed for content that feels spontaneous and grounded in the moment. The last thing you want is to post content that appears overly edited, formal, or stiff. That means you shouldn’t be spending hours filming or designing studio-quality sets -- you should be creating quick, casual, bite-sized content that costs nothing (or almost nothing) to make. Focus on reflecting the human qualities of your brand. If your brand is new to ephemeral content, try starting with behind-the-scenes gifs or videos, brand announcement teasers, or snippets from events.
3. Snapchat Advertising
Snapchat rolled out two big advertising innovations in 2016, and they’re worth trying out if you’re considering broadening your ad buys across platforms. That said, Snapchat isn’t the right platform for every brand -- it skews younger than most social platforms, and it lends itself best to content that is at least somewhat playful. Still, there are advertising opportunities to be had for brands that fit the bill.
Snapchat introduced the ability to create sponsored geofilters which allow brands to design their own geofilters and choose the when and where to enable them.