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Smoking Gun's 2018 ultimate PR, internal comms, marketing, and digital trend roundup

It has taken some doing, but after pooling our resources, sources, and heads, Smoking Gun has come up with the following not-so-short-list of the best online trend predictions for 2018 in SEO, social, PR, internal comms, marketing, and digital.

Needless to say, though, there are plenty more out there, so why not drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or via [email protected] if you think we need to add any to this breakdown. And thanks to the sources, of course. – Internal comms

A great source for Internal Comms news and professional advice, has one overriding point to make in its roundup of 2018 trends; in a word, digital. This means, amongst other things, we should be seeing more collaborative tools and platforms emerging to try and promote a more collaborative approach to work.
‘Everyone is an expert’ is another point well made— increasingly all staff are getting involved in brainstorming ideas that can improve workflow, and this will continue (and rightly so). There should be a greater understanding and application of measurement within internal comms, too, in order to show success rates and adjust efforts accordingly. Meanwhile, employees should be given a strong purpose, be encouraged to brand themselves, and bosses in turn need to make more of personal and professional career development. There’s plenty more in this list, too, so take a look here.
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Forbes – Influencer marketing

Forbes has dedicated an entire two-page blog post to what successful social media influencers think will be the biggest influencer marketing trends of 2018, which in itself shows just how much Forbes believes in influencer marketing for 2018.
Some of the more notable include ‘more influencers used in every company’s basic marketing strategy’, according to Rachel Levin, who claims over 20million followers. Lauren Riihimaki, meanwhile, suggests that it will be more about brands aligning with a few really strong creators who match the brand’s voice and ethics.
Wengie, on the other hand, is looking forward to seeing influencers try new things and experiment more with ideas. Others point to increased budgets being allocated for influencers in 2018, with quality and production values rising to suit. Read the full run down here.
20161019052135-Content-Marketing – Content marketing

Like Forbes, has opted to ask the experts for their expert predictions— 11 of them to be exact— with the crux being on content-related trends.
In a nutshell, the most significant from our perspective are as follows; high-quality content ‘clusters’ will become hugely important, so reduce quantity in favour of well-targeted posts in easy-to-digest formats focussed on running themes, which will perform better in search; channel experimentation will rise, for example converting a white paper into a blog post and then slide show; loyal audience building will be key rather than simply using native ads to ‘borrow’ audiences from elsewhere; ‘video will be nonnegotiable’, which is self-explanatory; and so-called ‘snackable, searchable content’ should be fundamental to your overall strategy.

Marketing Week – Marketing

Marketing Week has divided its 2018 trends into a series of different posts, and you can access the full archive here. Some of the most interesting (and pertinent) include how ‘brands’ perspective on gender will transform‘, an issue we have reported on several times via this blog already during 2017.
In terms of both men and women there is a lot of work to be done to reverse negative stereotypes, and it can’t start soon enough, with the Unstereotype Alliance referenced as a clear sign of real intent to right century-spanning wrongs, along with new rules set to be introduced by the Advertising Standards Agency in 2018.
Other ideas of note on Marketing Week include how ‘workplace wellbeing will become a business imperative‘, and, in light of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect in May, ‘marketers won’t be able to do with data what they can’t explain to customers‘— put simply compliance with new laws and transparency will be key when using the most powerful weapon in your arsenal, data.
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The Drum – Technology

One of the big things The Drum has been talking about revolves around a new report from digital agency, Isobar. Entitled ‘Augmented Humanity’, it centres on how technology interfaces are set to become a whole lot more intuitive, instinctive and natural, with more repetitive tasks than ever before becoming automated, freeing up time for creativity and compassion.
Artifical intelligence will therefore be used to support people, rather than replace them, allowing us to focus on the things we do best, which cannot— for the time being, anyway— be recreated by machines; emotional intelligence and creative thought processes.

PR Week – PR and technology

‘6 trends brands should know about for 2018, and the tech they need to craft responses’ is the PR Week post that caught our eye the most when compiling this list, although the website has published a few in the last couple of weeks.
The six in question include Speak To Me; basically how voice as interface will continue to grow, with an estimated 1.8billion digital voice assistant users set to be active by 2021. ‘Know Me and Know What I Want’ predicts a near-death of generic messages in favour of truly tailored advertising and marketing pitches to consumers, with the likes of Viscovery offering video ad placement based on the content of the specific clip, not just the channel or producer’s credentials.
‘Make Me Faster’ foretells success for brands that help consumers maximise the hours of each day, using the example of food labelling emphasising preparation time, not just nutritional value. ‘Look After Me’ means environments protecting us; i.e. smart locks, smart heating, security and similar, alongside IBM’s The Internet of Caring Things.
‘Be Respectful To Me’ refers to the new GDPR rules (see Marketing Week’s list entry above) and consumers becoming even more savvy when it comes to protecting their privacy. And, finally, ‘Be Good’ is focussed on how people want to work with, buy from, and toil for brands that put something back, whether that’s environmentally or socially speaking. You can read about the tech you need to respond to this in the original post. – SEO

As the website name suggests, is all about improving SEO, and in the run up to Christmas the heads responsible have listed more than 10 trends that will dominate 2018.
Some are relatively obvious, such as the need to have a mobile-first approach— one look at the increase in traffic coming from phones and tablets is enough to explain this. Some are less obvious, like a better use of featured snippets, for example results page descriptions written for your individual web pages; machine learning and AI; and voice search, which is already on the rise. For a full explanation see the complete article here, as compiled by pros from the sector.
nexus2cee_customizable-google-search-bar-1-1-728x255 – Content Marketing

Setting out its ‘Content Marketing Benchmarks report 2018‘, Synergist highlights a number of areas that will be worth looking at next year. The first of which is a predicted increase in outsourcing of content marketing, particularly content creation.
It’s also important to note that most B2C marketers do not think their current efforts are successful— 50% consider theirs only ‘moderately successful’— meaning there is plenty of room for improvement.
Factually-based content is also more important than ever, fake news and all that. And, finally, B2C distribution will continue to favour social media, but email will be a very close second, which some may find surprising.
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Twitter For Business – Social media

The social giant’s in-house blog highlights some significant developments in the public relations sphere. Namely that ‘personal branding and thought leadership will go beyond executives’.
This means that while faces like our own MD, Rick Guttridge, will continue to wax lyrical on issues impacting the industry from the top, other employees and freelancers alike will also be looking to get their voices heard on all levels. The main benefit for companies being a more comprehensive image of them being ahead of the pack, while sole traders can amplify their reputations significantly.
The blog also refers to so-called dark social influence. These are the elements that have always been far harder to analyse, such as shares via text, email, private messaging, Slack, Skype, and similar tools. To understand the true reach of your work these areas cannot be ignored as the platforms are quickly becoming chosen tools for social comms, and the only way of gauging numbers is apparently “broadening the metrics you rely on to gauge whether your efforts are effective.” Read the full post here.

Looking for more advice on PR, social media, and marketing? Why not get in contact or submit a brief to inject a little ingeniousness into your brand.

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