Social Media and Marketing Predictions for 2017

What follows is based on my gut. I’ve taken my 15+ years in media, marketing, production, education and business experience and  decided to put it to the test.

Get back to me next year and let me know how I did.

AR & VR Gets Real:

First, we have to make sure we understand the difference between these two. Augmented Reality (AR) is when a visual is overlaid what you are seeing in the real world. Think Snapchat filters. Virtual Reality (VR) is a total audio visual immersion in a virtual reality (that can be based on a real place).

The rise in hardware like 360° cameras, Oculus Rift and affordable headsets, coupled with apps to take advantage of this hardware means that the AR/VR revolution is coming. Whether a hobbyist or professional, we can now take an audience with us and allow them to see environments as we see them or want to see them. And they can interact and respond with these environments.

There is going to be an explosion of AR and VR apps and hardware that allow us to “go” more places. Google has dramatically expanded their use and acceptance of 360° photographs to improve Google Maps. Facebook and Twitter/Periscope are pushing for 360° live videos. The development of hardware has ramped up and made the cameras and headsets more affordable. Graphic designers and game developers now have a better notion of how we are actually interacting with AR and VR, so creating virtual landscapes and augmented elements has gotten more focused on the end use.

2017 will see AR & VR make great strides to becoming how we experience and interact with the world around us.

Live Streaming Takes Hold:

History lesson: On June 22, 2016, Democrats in the House of Representatives planned to have a sit-in to force a vote on gun control with House Republicans. C-SPAN usually covers what happens in the house and broadcasts events from the house floor. But what many didn’t know was that C-SPAN serves as the pleasure of who controls the House, who happened to be the GOP. The GOP declared the House to be in recess and thus stopped the transmission coming out of the House cameras. C-SPAN had no control and no video of the sit-in.

Enter Live streaming.
House Democrats took to Periscope and Facebook Live to stream speeches and other events from the floor themselves. The GOP had no control over the individual phones of the Democrats. Soon C-SPAN, MSNBC, Fox News and others began to BROADCAST these live streams as part of their coverage (you can read more here.)

What does all of this have to do with anything? For me, and when we look back in 20 years others will agree, this was when live streaming became legitimate and a legitimate threat to broadcast and cable networks.

Broadcast and cable networks aired cellphone footage, from social media sites, LIVE.

That’s huge. I’m sure there was a delay, just to be safe for content, but professionals broadcasting cellphone quality footage live from non professionals is a big step. Many watched the DNC and RNC convention on Facebook, not TV. Not just the traditional coverage, but journalist (print) with cellphones doing live interviews from the floor.  

Thursday Night Football has expanded reach on Twitter. In the months since, Instagram has added live streaming, Periscope has upped their game and Facebook has extended the amount of time you can go live.

For media outlets and businesses, live streaming will be a way to cut through the clutter and give your audience an experience. A real, live experience. Whether it is covering a breaking story in the field, an update on a product launch, live Q&A with clients or getting a feel for what customers want, live streaming will be the experience people are searching for.

2017 will be the year we see live streaming go from a novelty for the masses to a tool for the business savvy.

Reality Branding:

When I first started in production 15+ years ago, companies had an internal media department that handled video, print, audio, etc. Then there was the recession and companies cut the media departments and began to outsource. This gave rise to an increase in standalone production companies.

2017 is going to see the return of internal media production departments. But not to create newsletters, training videos and commercials like before. They will begin to document what companies are doing, day in and day out. This content, while banal and seemingly unimportant, is what will allow companies to stand out. All business (worth a damn) are online. They promote their brands, use social media, BLAH BLAH BLAH. If everyone is doing it, how does one stand out? Tell your story and live your truth, for everyone to see: Reality Branding.

Look at Gary Vaynerchuk as an example. Not necessarily the message, but the process and content. His brand is growing because he has a videographer following him around and creating content out of his day to day life as a business owner.  

Any business can do this and I predict many will. Equipment is cheaper and there are plenty of communications and media folks who are looking to create. Traditional marketing is still needed, but giving brands a voice, personality and a way to connect to consumers will be the next wave of marketing/branding. We like to watch the process of things, it’s human nature. Companies will begin to leverage this in their favor.

Companies like the NFL and CNN already have people dedicated to Instagram and Snapchat on their rosters. They’re just videographers, photographers and copywriters being re-tasked. And if you want to see how well having a voice works, check out Arby’s and Wendy’s Twitter accounts. Killing the game is an understatement.

2017 will be the year that brands willing to showcase themselves, their voice and their personality, will dominate.

Video Becomes a Dictator:

2016 was heralded as the year video became king. Video was supposed to dominate and outshine all other forms of media and it did. 2017…video will dictate your success or failure. Any company not involved in video, whether vlogging, documenting, tutorials, experience marketing or some other form, will find themselves losing in 2017.

Almost all major social platforms have adopted adding video. Twitter was supposed to be text only. Instagram just photos. Facebook just connections. Each of them now caters to video. Live video. Video will make or break companies in 2017. The means and cost to produce, edit and distribute video at an acceptable quality level is in any companies reach. Literally, grab a phone.

Video distribution and tracking has also become easy enough for the layperson to do it. Between Facebook and YouTube, you can reach just about anyone. Plus, Facebook advertising makes getting your video in front of your targeted audience affordable and easy. You don’t have to deal with TV stations and their limited reach. You can reach anyone, anywhere with your message. Which means your local small business can become a global small business.

High-end video is also becoming more affordable and attainable. The size of equipment has shrunk and some of the processes to create flashier videos have become easier. The days of needing a large studio and a large team of professionals to make high-end video work are gone. Many video companies are starting to create small studio spaces where companies can come in and decide the level of help they need. Maybe they just need access to a green screen. Maybe they just need someone to edit. Maybe they need someone to do the whole process. Whatever you need, it’s become scalable and doable with fewer barriers.

2017 will be one of the last years to adopt video as part of your marketing strategy if you want to survive.

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