Trends in digital marketing are often difficult to predict. In particular, the rise of social media and influencer marketing has pushed and shoved the overall industry around at such breakneck speed it has been hard to keep track of which trends are going to flourish and which are going to flounder. The fast-paced nature of the industry means some promising leads die off early, whilst other unexpected trends gain more and more momentum.
Below, Peter Watson, Managing Director of award-winning advertising and marketing agency Distract, shares his expertise on which digital marketing trends small businesses have found success with so far in 2019.
The human touch of personal branding
Personal branding is one trend that has seen a meteoric rise this year so far and will continue to grow into the new year. People are less trusting of brands that hide behind logos and slogans these days, so having a human face at the forefront of your business massively inspires consumer confidence.
One of the best ways of adding personality and a human touch to your SME's brand is by consciously selecting a key player – whether that's a founder, director, or stakeholder – to be the face and voice of the business. It needs to be someone who knows the industry inside out and can communicate well.
Along with being an excellent form of marketing for the overall business, you can also build a great sense of authority around your wider business by guesting on podcasts, contributing to blogs, writing opinion pieces and being available for local, regional and national press as a contact.
Think outside of the box
The way consumers take in advertising has also changed, which is why so many small businesses are turning to Instagram stories to reach their target audience with short, sharp advertising that is incredibly effective. Ads are seamlessly slotted in between stories and brands are starting to embrace this more efficient form of marketing. Instagram also provides valuable insights so you know exactly what users are engaging with.
As such, many small businesses are using Instagram stories to provide step-by-step guides or demonstrations on how to do something unique or to offer insight into an aspect of the business a customer might not normally see. For example, with food businesses, this could be the preparation of products, a trip to a supplier or a recipe video.
Similarly, the rise of the explainer video to promote new products or add value to customers is also something that should be carefully considered. Many small businesses are using the concept of explainer videos to push out short clips of expert advice that can fit in short bursts.
For solicitors, advice on wills, probate or easy to digest matters are perfect to fit into this kind of content, as it works to educate users whilst also adding authority to your brand. For those in finance, advice on bank accounts, investments or tax are also set to take off, as more and more people are opting to get quick explanations to their questions via video clips as opposed to by reading long articles.
The podcast boom looks set to continue
2019 has been yet another year where the popularity of podcasts has continued to grow. Businesses are continuing to utilize podcasts to establish themselves as leaders in their industry and that is certainly something to encourage.
A podcast is free to distribute and relatively simple to set up. All you need is some microphones, audio editing software, a simple camera setup, and a good topic of conversation. Bear in mind that you can also repurpose sections for other platforms by pulling specific clips or sections to create short video content or previews on other social media channels.
This is a great way of positioning yourself as an expert in your industry, and will underline any personal branding efforts you make elsewhere this year. It’s also full of potential as a podcast can be anything from advice, a simple chat or a feature-packed, radio-style effort. Real influence can be made in this area very quickly, especially if you have expert knowledge and valuable industry advice to share.
The importance of a good LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn has continued to grow into one of the best social sites for professionals. While LinkedIn has always been a good place to advertise to an engaged audience, it is also one of the best places for organic marketing. Once you’ve built an audience of connections, you already have a following that is highly engaged with your content and posts. In addition, whenever they react to or comment on your posts, it's shared with their own connections who may also be interested in your content.
With LinkedIn continuing to improve its UI, services and usability, it’s certainly a platform to keep an eye on in the future. The value of a good, engaging LinkedIn profile for your business, with a good amount of relevant connections and content is immense.
The trends mentioned in this article have proven themselves to be mainstays of 2019 and are likely to continue to grow into 2020. Whatever happens, prepare for the unexpected and be ready to adopt trends early to ensure you're ahead of your competitors.
About the Author
Peter Watson is the Managing Director of Distract, an award-winning innovative advertising and marketing agency based in the East Midlands. Peter also runs the YouTube series ‘Inside the Journey’. The series shows the day-to-day of business at Distract, charting the journey as Distract continues to grow in the future.