With 2017 quickly drawing to a close (no, we don't know where the time has gone either), we've taken the time to reflect and look towards the new year. Dave Musson, our Lead Social Media Strategist, lets us in on what he thinks the year ahead will have to offer for student marketers and the marketing trends to look out for in 2018...
1. Video will continue to flourish
There's no escaping this one; within a couple of years from now, upwards of 80% of global internet traffic will be video. The algorithms love video, consumers seem to enjoy it a lot too, so if you've not got a plan for how you're going to do video, you're either very brave or very misguided.
And don't get stuck thinking that this means more glossy films shot in 16:9 and hosted in HD on YouTube. You need to think about what platforms you're using and what formats work best where. Facebook and Instagram want square, short, native videos - and they'll want you to go live too. Even LinkedIn has embraced video now.
It's not going anywhere, and 2018 will emphatically underline this fact.
2. The rise of the machines (well, chatbots)
Chatbots and messenger apps are going to get more sophisticated, and their use will be more mainstream. You need to be on it, because people will want to be able to ask a question when it pops into their heads, which almost certainly won't be between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Also relevant in this category of robots taking over, I can't help but feel like voice search is really going to mature in 2018 and brands are going to need to start looking at how they can exploit it. Is your content geared up for voice search? Have you got a plan? At some point during 2018, you'll probably need to create one!
3. The continued decline of organic reach on social media
We've known about this for a while now, but 2018 is going to be the year we really feel the pinch on our social media content's organic reach. While you should still be creating the very best content you can, you need to realise that it's now a pay-to-play world. Actually, you probably already know this - in which case, make sure whoever has control over your budget knows that organic reach will be dead in 12 months.
4. Podcasts will quietly get even more massive
Yes, as a host of three podcasts who is also working on two more, I'm biased on this, but podcasting is huge and will continue to grow in 2018. Once people start listening to podcasts, they subscribe to an average of six shows and 85% of them listen to entire episodes - wouldn't you kill for retention rates like that on your videos? People want to maximise their commute, and podcasting gives them a wealth of great content in which to do that - educational, entertaining or even just plain weird.
2018 offers a huge opportunity for universities to get a foothold in this space - let's face it, there aren't that many doing interesting stuff just yet, despite having a plethora of experts and amazing research to tell at your fingertips.
And don't be surprised if 2018 is the year when podcasts start to become more relevant to younger audiences. I know from asking actual, real young people that the medium is becoming a 'thing' for them, so take note of what shows are popular and work out what you can learn from them.
5. It's all or nothing for Snapchat
2018 is a huge year for Snapchat, after a pretty terrible 2017. They've unveiled their revamp, which will see them separate the social from the media - or, in Plain English, pulling apart brands and publishers from your friends and putting them in different parts of the app - so now it's time to see what effect it will have. Either it will give them the boost they sorely need or, in 12 months time, they could be in serious trouble.
6. A Twitter renaissance
Something a bit more out there - and probably plain hopeful - to finish; I'd love for 2018 to be the year that Twitter finds its mojo again. Yes, it's become a space where hateful idiots can flourish, but that won't go on forever and we, as a community of tweeters, can surely make a difference. Keep reporting the bigots, keep calling out rubbish and keep sharing great content and having great conversations. We might never get back to what it was like in 2009, but we can certainly do better than where we're at right now. How about joining me, and vowing to make Twitter a positive thing in 2018?
If you have your own thoughts on what the new year will have in store for marketers, we'd love to hear them. Or, if you'd like to speak to one of our student marketing experts about gearing up for 2018, get in touch.