Trends Are Tricky
When it comes to trends, online and off, it’s tricky deciding which ones will become the next Instagram and which ones are in fact just a trend, or worse — a fad. It’s easy to jumble the two; both indicate a rising level in popularity of a style, behavior, or product, but there is a major difference between the two. Unlike a fad, trends are relevant, and they represent something larger than themselves because they rise from complex and intersecting concepts in a given sector. Online trends seem to take on aspects of style, behavior, and product in one fell swoop, combining hardware, software, and behavioral concepts.
At GTMA, we’re keenly aware that the digital landscape changes faster than you can say “Snapchat!”, so we’re always watching the trends. However, we don’t take trends at face value, we’re looking to trends for the clues they provide into the future. Trends are kind of like crystal balls in that way — with a little bit more scientific analysis behind them. Here’s some trends we’ve got our eyes on, and why they’re important:
We’ve been talking about micro-content for some time, but in 2016 the world of apps and services has become increasingly more granular — and rightly so! We now have the ability to pick apart online interactions to the atomic level, and offer users specialized apps and tools. Mobile is everything, and short videos work better on mobile. Come 2017, we’ll be engaging in many many tiny micro-interactions each time we pull out our phones. So perhaps it’s time to throw “think big” to the garbage and instead “think small” in terms of content, targeting, website building, and so on.
Real Time Everything
Social media thrives on real-time engagement, but the response windows continue to shrink, which is especially true when it comes to customer service. Search Engine Watch reported that 70% of Twitter users expect a response from a brand they contact via social media, and 53% of those users expect a response time within one hour, and even higher when placing a complaint! Multifamily brands and marketers must embrace this real-time expectation, because if you’re not quick to respond, one of your competitors might be! It’s a win-win for both when executed properly — real-time engagement opens up a highway for quicker and more efficient communication between you and your audience.
Response times aren’t the only thing moving to ‘real-time’. 2016 revealed a voracity for live streaming video with the advent of Facebook Live paired with real-time reactions.
Why? Users want an authentic experience, and live format videos that are unfiltered and spontaneous give them just that. The massive popularity of Snapchat among younger generations is also an indicator; it’s a platform that doesn’t allow you to import content from elsewhere, a marker sign for this shift. The recent addition of Instagram stories which has been called “Snapchat for old people” might be a joke for much younger audiences, but overall Instagram stories opens up a similarly authentic experience for a larger audience. Live streaming video is already the next big thing, but it’s full potential and further iterations will dictate how marketers use live streaming moving forward.
Pokemon Go was so popular that oftentimes it server couldn’t handle the amount of users, and what’s even crazier — users didn’t get upset and delete the app when it bugged out. The frenzy has subsided since the initial craze, but Pokemon Go speaks volumes on what’s to come for the future of online experiences. Augmented reality, 3D experiences, and virtual reality are here, and will soon take precedent over many other types of media. Users today want immersive experiences, the kind that only these new types of media can give. We’re already creating 3D experiences for our multifamily partners, but be warned — this is a trend we’re expecting to see make a massive takeover in the year to come.
Ads are annoying. But consumers and millennials in particular are more annoyed by online ads than ever before, with the global use of ad blockers up to 38% of online users [Unruly, 2015]. Digital ad experiences can leave users frustrated, angry even — especially when it comes to the more intrusive types of ads like video ads, pre-rolls, and screen takeovers. Many brands are turning to more organic advertising formats like Instagram, Facebook, and influencer marketing. But alas, this type of advertising will soon wear out its welcome too, as millennials become more annoyed with this marketer in sheep’s clothing type of advertising. The answer? This trend encompasses all the others, and the smart marketers will find ways to combine live streaming, immersive media, and granular interactions to create an effective marketing strategy that does not feel intrusive or tricky. The result will be better designed ads that will benefit both user and advertisers alike.
Story Driven Reality
The trends of today are the realities of tomorrow because they’re all part of the same story. The characters of the digital world evolve and develop as they age, and so will the people who try to understand them. More and more, people crave unaltered stories from brands — live storytelling and real worlds we can step into from our own homes. Mind the shift from fiction to non-fiction, this trend will impact every company and be the driving force behind content in 2017.