I recently contributed to a SnapApp survey of 73 B2B marketers from around the world in which we all stuck our necks out to predict the top trends that would affect us, and our clients, over the coming year. The full article is a terrific read, but I also wanted to pick out some personal favourites...while giving my own thoughts another airing of course!
To get the - er - crystal ball rolling, here's a quick taste of what Mystic Tony expects the next 12 months to hold:
A breakthrough year for B2B influencer marketing:
Influencer marketing went mainstream for B2C in 2016 and I’m confident that it will be the turn of B2B in 2017. Twitter is the natural go-to social network for B2B influencer marketing so Twitter execs would be well-advised to make facilitation and promotion of this area a big strategic priority for the coming year.
LinkedIn Sponsored Updates will finally get the level of attention they merit:
LI sponsored updates have been around for a few years now and they should be at the heart of every B2B marketer’s social media marketing strategy. Pin-point audience targeting, payment by results and direct access to the best-quality B2B audience by a country mile. What’s not to like?
Longer form content to make a comeback:
The trend towards bite-size content to appeal to ever-shorter attention spans and crowded schedules may seem unstoppable but my belief is that the pendulum has swung too far. There’s still a place for more in-depth, considered thought leadership content and this should be seen as a source of differentiation...especially when savvy B2B marketers know they can actually have the best of both worlds with a single, high-quality white paper spawning multiple blogs & articles and countless social media posts.
"Video needs to be part of your 2017 strategy...and video + text is the killer combo."So says Ann Handley of Marketing Profs and there are very people in the world who can match Ann's knowledge and expertise when it comes to B2B content marketing.
It's fair to say that Mike Allton, Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell would agree with Ann about what the 2017 should be. His top 3 trends for next year - in no particular order! - are 1) Video 2) Video and 3) Yep, you guessed it, Video
n.b. Yesterday's news that Twitter is rolling out an update to make video creation and broadcast as easy as composing a tweet (and, crucially, independent of Periscope), is long overdue and I expect it to underpin Twitter's status - alongside LinkedIn - as the social media marketing platform of choice for most B2Bs.
I couldn't agree more with Bernie Borges. CEO, Find and Convert Executive when he says that employee social media advocacy is an area where B2Bs can, and should, be doing much more. In Bernie's own words: "The employee is the most trusted resource to the B2B buyer. Employees want to participate in brand advocacy, but they need help. They need the know-how, training and technology to help them engage in social media in a relevant way that's good for their personal brand and good for the corporate brand."
Another expert whose 2016 predictions make a huge amount of sense is Chris Grant, Strategist at Babelquest - notably when he talks about the importance of aligning content and sales strategies: "For successful companies, content will become increasingly aligned with the messages and conversations salespeople are having with customers and prospects. Any company not including sales in their content planning is missing a trick and I think we'll see more of this style of content over the next twelve months."
The growing importance of personalised communications is a recurring theme emerging from the predictions of experts in the Snap App survey. Dave Fleet. Executive Vice President and National Practice Lead, Digital at Edelman, puts this particularly well: "If I could encourage B2B marketers to pay attention to one trend in 2017, it would be the increasingly powerful ability to personalize communications and achieve 1:1 marketing at scale. The ability to leverage data to truly understand individuals, rather than broad segments, is incredibly powerful and we've only just begun to see the potential benefits from this kind of marketing."
I'm going to end on a real high, courtesy of Content Marketing Strategy Consultant Ron Sela who, in my view, completely nails it with all three of his B2B Marketing recommendations for 2017:
"Influencer marketing is one of the smartest marketing strategies a business can implement, first and foremost, it is often a more cost efficient method of publicity and brand recognition. Secondly, when it is done correctly, it drives sales and increases overall profit more than many marketing strategies combined. Looking at how influencer marketing works, makes it a pretty common sense business practice. The result of getting someone of high influence in your line of business to promote your service or product shifts their already huge following to your business through the already established trust they have with fans.
"Employee advocacy is under-utilized because so many brands are reaching out to their target market, without looking at the value they have right at home, or in this case, at the office. Consider your employees as immediate family, you see them regularly, they know the ins and outs of your business, and they can make or break the image you have. Going into 2017 almost all your employees have around 5 social media profiles on the internet. Imagine the reach they have if they are enthusiastic about their work, and your brand.
"Brand Ambassadors are a winning ticket. Nobody will know your brand and can promote your products as efficiently as someone you choose as a brand ambassador. Brand ambassadors are an efficient way to stay knowledgeable about what your target market wants, further saturate events and platforms where you want your brand, and spread empowering content."
Thanks again to the good folks at SnapApp for compiling their great roundup of global B2B marketers' 2017 predictions. I hope you've enjoyed my personal take on what the next 12 months holds. One things for sure, it ain't going to be boring!
A very Happy Christmas from X Factor Communications and our best wishes for a successful and prosperous 2017.