We wrote many articles this year, covering a wide range of topics. Some, though, stand out as the most important. These pillar topics reflect significant trends and changes in marketing in 2018. Plus, many will likely continue to play a role in digital marketing over the coming years.
The Importance of Reviews
As SEO becomes more about UX and CX, marketers need to pay greater attention to reviews. As well as being important for search rankings, online reviews matter because users turn to them to decide where and what to purchase.
The problem is that many businesses have no idea how to go about gaining reviews, at least not without breaking the terms of service on sites like Google and Yelp. We explored many tactics businesses can use to receive legitimate, positive reviews from customers. Since social is so effective for this purpose, we also put together a list of ideas to increase reviews just using social media.
Instagram in the Limelight
Of all the popular social media platforms, one stole the limelight this year: Instagram. Whereas the increased usage of Instagram is providing more opportunities for businesses, it also means greater competition. You need to know how to stand out on Instagram, especially how to optimize your account and content for search. This is particularly a challenge for small businesses, which lack the resources to compete with large companies. For this reason, we examined how to enhance your profile specifically for local search.
Instagram released a number of new features this year, some of which are especially useful for businesses. This includes the chance to schedule posts without the need for a third-party tool. Perhaps even more significant is the capability to include links in Instagram Stories — a blessing for businesses, as it has been historically difficult to direct users to content off the platform.
We also provided you with general tips, ranging from how to correctly set up an Instagram business profile to ideas for growing your account. Plus, we taught you how to drive traffic from Instagram, how to create better Instagram ads, and how to find relevant hashtags.
Shoppable Posts on Instagram
Shoppable posts deserve a special mention, as they were huge news. It is now possible for users to purchase products from brands directly on Instagram. We examined how to create posts, including the requirements to get started.
In addition, we provided extra information for businesses that want to create catalogs through Business Manager. This method is necessary for businesses outside the U.S., those that want to manage multiple catalogs, and those that want an agency to have access to their catalog.
The Rise of Chatbots
Last year was all about voice search and smart home devices. This year, the discussion about AI centers on chatbots. Almost everyone has interacted with at least a few chatbots in 2018, whether they’re aware of it or not. Despite the massive trend, some businesses are still debating if a chatbot is necessary for their needs. Some small businesses even believe that a chatbot is out of their reach. We addressed these concerns in a number of articles:
- Considering what chatbots mean for business
- Examining the benefits of chatbots
- Looking at where chatbots are today and where they’ll likely be in the future
We also provided you with instructions for creating and installing a chatbot. Then, we took this a step further, helping you think about what type of chatbot experience your customers want.
Bear in mind, your website is just one place where you can install a chatbot. You’ve probably noticed when you communicate with brands on some social media platforms that the response often comes from a chatbot rather than a human. We explored how to use both Instant Replies and full chatbot integration on Facebook.
Influencers Take the Stage
The fact is, many users are sick of being marketed to, especially through blatant ads. When people are bombarded with messages, they tune many of them out. However, users do pay attention to their peers. This is why word-of-mouth marketing remains so effective. The issue has been that it is difficult for brands to make use of word-of-mouth marketing — influencers solve this problem.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that there was an explosion of influencer marketing this year. We covered the topic from every angle, looking at:
- What exactly influencer marketing is and why it’s such a big deal
- What social media influencers are
- How you can find social media influencers for your brand
- Your top choices for social media channels for influencer marketing
- How to measure earned media value — i.e., the result of influencer marketing on social campaigns
One of our major focuses was how you can use employees as brand influencers. Employees are a resource already available to every business. Better still, they’re more real than celebrities or even micro-influencers who lack a real connection to your brand. We examined the ways you can harness the power of employees as brand influencers, including how to teach and motivate them to become ambassadors. We also considered how you can use employees and customers as brand ambassadors over the holidays.
Social as a Service
It’s called social media for a reason: the platforms are designed for users to make and maintain connections. It’s surprising how many brands forget this. They set up accounts and post content, but they never interact with their audience. Users are beginning to demand more from businesses — they want to be able to chat, receive replies to their comments, and utilize the platforms for customer service.
In our social as a service articles, we examined what major mistakes businesses continue to make and how to fix them. By following our advice, you’ll gain the most from your social strategy.
These are just the hottest topics we covered — we looked at so many more. Check out the Boostability blog for all the latest trends, tips, and news you need to know about digital marketing.