The 2019 Digital Landscape
For your Small Business
Are you still doing the same things you were doing on social media from six months ago?
Perhaps you are still posting 30 hashtags on Instagram in the comments, or using the same images across multiple platforms or even sharing content from one platform to another, or using stock images and memes where native content should be used?
The digital landscape evolves.
It is constantly changing and upgrading based on use and the needs of both the consumer and developer. Whilst our digital platforms in many ways are becoming similar, in some ways their audiences and their needs, have never been been more different. Sharing the same content from one platform to another is essentially spamming your audience and shows zero connection with their needs and desires. As business owners and/or entrepreneurs, it is for us to identify problems and provide the solutions. Spam doesn’t do that. It damages your brand and creates a dull market, where your followers will eventually drop off. Stock images, besides inviting brand tainting and violated IP rights, create a dull market to your messaging. Rehashed content also does this and is usually outdated by the time published so essentially becomes a sideline of false news.
“Be platform specific,” Liss Caldwell
The Digital imprint you create by having platforms, posting, commenting and sharing, contributes to defining your brand both digitally and physically. Social media has long been known as the new word of mouth, marketing basics, and business fundamentals haven’t changed, the mediums we use have. With voice interaction and search now common place, and with over 430 million searches on goolge being voice activated our content will again need to evolve to ensure it is recognized in the new searchable systems.
The platforms and collective recorders of your imprint have increased and each listens in a different way, has different peak times and demands varied content and information to be seen, absorbed and importantly interacted with, engaged, shared and reviewed positively.
Word of Mouth in action, is instant and quick to judge. As a business you have 1.7 seconds to convince the viewer to engage (Instagram) and under 7 seconds to captivate their attention, usually less on social media platforms. These time frames have been consistently decreasing for years, as has our patience with web pages to load. We have in two years gone from an expected 3 second loading time to 2.2 seconds before we move onto another option.
Keep it bite sized with the ability to upgrade to binge instantly available.
Our attention spans have decreased, and in 2019 the demand has been placed on bite sized information for a globally, time poor audience with information overload. The bite sized information is only the taster, as a community we have become a binge society. We want to sample to make sure we connect and then engorge ourselves in one place eg with one author or one brand or one website/ platform. This is true of fashion brands, entertainment eg Netflix and information on websites, videos on Youtube etc. This is why series of all genres, in the publishing and entertainment industries are doing well because it gives us the taste in an episode and then extends to a series and binge opportunity.
Free Cycle Marketing
The free cycle, which in fact isn’t free because you usually have to give up your email address and take the time to receive and engage, often questionable information. Due to an overwhelm of poor quality content there is the increasing demand for high level resources from qualified professionals (I’m not talking about professionals qualified by the latest popup website or institute.) Consumers are over rehashed content, given away free in an effort to build those valuable databases through opt in funnels. The public have hit back, using false email addresses to test the quality of the resources. How many subscribers of your database are active?
Time is important and in a time poor community, we are demanding recognition and respect. Most blogs remain a free resource you can follow without an opt in. They provide an opportunity for you to see if you align with a brand, product or service before subscribing to a database.
After whispers of declines of blogs in recent years in some industries and the rise of vlogs, quality blogs are accelerating and generating traffic to websites and also social media platforms. They are quickly re-establishing themselves as the necessary medium for all businesses. Businesses posting blogs four times a week have seen a growth of 48% in a relatively short time frame.
Reach – Connect – Engage – Convert
Blogs are the link (or chain) between your website (anchor) and social media platforms (boat). Blogs provide the quality content, increase your SEO and traffic to your website, which expands reach through your segment marketing, whilst providing a resource for your target audience on social media to connect, engage and interact with.
Consistent content assists you build your ideal target audience and position yourself within in your niche. Gathering your community through a blog people want to share, allows you to develop influencers, who establish and convert leads for you. Most importantly, it develops connection and starts the conversation and through your interaction you can keep this conversation growing.
“Escape – Entertain – Educate – Engage
The four elements that draw individuals to the internet,” Liss Caldwell
Content & Story
Having quality content provides the resource. In today’s digital landscape where there is information overload, you need to connect. People connect with people, and we connect through story. We engage with, and relate to the stories we connect with, retelling them in our own way, shaped by our own experience and perspective. Positive experience can uplift a brand, it may become viral and negative experience can demolish a mutli-million dollar venture eg Fyre in minutes. The quickest way for a poor review in 2019 is by delivering poor quality content, service and unauthentic marketing.
“Be real, be true to your brand. Keep it consistent,” Liss Caldwell
Your messaging must be cohesive and resonate from your vision and mission, which is the core of your branding. A business’s brand story, business story, vision and mission statements and social media posts establish and continue the story through mediums of words, image and video. Consumer engagement continues to evolve the story associated with your brand, which is why getting platform specific and understanding the evolving audiences with social media is essential to being effective with your digital imprint.
“Consumer generate content is your most valuable organic marketing resource,” Liss Caldwell
If you want to create a strong foundation for your content to continue to grow from, you are looking for evergreen content that remains relevant over time. You are looking for the core issues and problems your ideal clientele face and providing the solutions. There is no shortage of ideas.
Just because your content is evergreen doesn’t mean it won’t create buzz. The use of keywords, hashtags, links, subheadings, images and re-purposing content can extend your contents lifespan and be adapted to suit trends, generate buzz, initiate trends and connect with new audiences.
Staying up to Date with Digital Marketing Trends
Following trends after you see the change and notice others doing it, will position you with the rehash and mass population like a needle in the haystack. Ongoing learning, assessment of your analytics and gauging the audience reached, their reaction to your content and your overall conversions is essential for your business to grow. Choose to be an innovator and lead instead of a hustler on the sidelines.
“Audit > Assess > Adapt > Action and Repeat,” Liss Caldwell
Staying ahead of SEO
SEO changes over 400 times per year, yes, more than once a day. We can’t adapt our websites and blogs to every change. We can, make sure we are aware of the major changes and look for a consistent ground to ensure we are optimizing every organic ($0) marketing opportunity there is. SEO optimization is your keystone for organic marketing, through the correct use of keywords, hashtags, links, the optimization of images, videos, content, listing of your site and publishing of a highly functional digital matrix you can be found by the right people.
Your website is your digital business anchor. Clean minimalist looks, large font headers with native graphics and images including illustrations are on trend. Monochromatic colours with one bold colour to guide the eye. The modern grid or glitch grid format is starting to gain traction.
Bullets, indents, strike through, long scrolls are out. Everything needs to be easy, including easy to read so please do not justify your text.
Your Digital Matrix for Traffic
Your digital matrix is the blueprint/ map of your digital presence and the flow of traffic, interactions, client pathways and the results generated. It’s your treasure map to your digital footprint.
Are you on the right platforms for you?
Are you getting the results you want?
Look further than the numbers. Are your followers your target audience?
Which platforms you need to be on is dependent on your business, desired results and target audience. There are some basic mistakes that apply to all. The platforms are changing and competing against each other for position. Google plus is nearly gone, so retrieve your data now. Hangouts is on the way out. There are new options and enhancements within Twitter, LinkedIn and Google to maximize your organic reach. WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger are slowly being combined.
The digtial landscape is changing ad that includes the platforms. Look at the integrations of platforms. The pixels are shifting, there are new platforms gaining traction while others slow because they have not adapted to consumer demands.
Social Media 101 – which platforms?
- Do not put all your eggs in one basket eg. only have one platform or only publish with one company eg Facebook and Instagram. If something happens to this company you loose 100% of your social media presence. This happened previously to businesses that only used My Space or only used Polyvore.
- Do not only publish with one type of medium or platforms with the same mediums eg Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest as you are appealing to people that are predominantly image focused and missing large opportunities with the rest of the population.
- Be platform specific. Create posts designed for the platform and your ideal clients within it’s audience. Get savvy, learn how, it will save you time and money and generate better results.
- Focus your digital strategy around your ideal clients, their pathways and needs.
Social Media Algorithms
Social media posts within a platform are governed by algorithms. Basically, algorithms are like the wind, we can see the results but we can’t see them. They influence our posts rank and ability to reach our desired audience. Platforms adjust to their users, hosts, market trends and consumers. They are designed to improve user experience. Sometimes there are glitches and A/B testing to discover the best options. It is a constant dance, which starts with action by doing audits, assessments and adapting to the changes. To do this well you need to stay current and up-skilled.
Each platform will release updates as they happen, usually through their business centers. If you want to be ahead of the curve find a reputable and original source. Make sure it isn’t a rehash from other blogs.
Which medium has greatest reach? Video Marketing
Story is key and video marketing is the medium that continues to grow and engage larger audiences more than any other medium. Video has the benefit of the synergy of story mediums including visual and audio and the best videos include subtitles. Even without sound and subtitles a strong video will continue to reveal, a story the viewer can relate to, remember and retell.
Video Marketing continues to grow and be the focus point on every platform in their outlined plans. Over 80% of our current online time is spent watching videos and they generate nearly 50% of online revenue. Not all types of videos are equal, the optimum requirements and type of video differ on each platform. On all platforms at the moment live videos yield broader consumer outcomes.
“In video marketing, not all video is created equal,” Liss Caldwell
The demand for live videos will increase due to their perceived authenticity and instant engagement interactions. These trends were initially instigated by millennials wanting real content, now it is the consensus. We mistrust ads and celebrity endorsed content. We first opted towards big name influencers, this is also changing towards a demand for micro influencers within individual industries and real content recommended by our social media friends. Millennials and Next Gen want the relatable truth and will call out faults and unauthentic content. They have been brought up in a world, where they are connected with a global voice, for brands this means transparency and authenticity is paramount. The power is in the people.
Keywords – Mentions – Emojis – Hashtags
Reaching the people has never been easier. The ability to be found by using hashtags to reach and build following, keywords for your content categorization, mentions for recognition and emojis for building following has never been easier or more accessible to organic marketers. To market content well, takes little time and can yield positive results. The problem is, that few do it well. Many small businesses are imitating others and it becomes a system of the blind leading the blind.
“Constant vigilance and updating of skills to connect and reach your ideals,” Liss Caldwell.
I love the constantly changing digital landscape, nothing is ever boring and it presents me with a challenge. There is always something to learn.
Mindset can be everything when approaching a digital world, so stay clear and remember to take time out to defrag not just your computer systems, also include your mind. Step away and get into nature, get a new perspective and breathe.
“Don’t fall down the social media rabbit hole that swallows time. Know your tools. Be platform specific. Save time by being efficient, which means staying up to date. Audit your digital matrix and imprint regularly. Learn to adapt and bounce back. Be consistent. Focus on your ideal client. Tell the story – it starts with solid branding and grow from there,” Liss Caldwell
I’m expanding in more depth into the topics covered in up and coming blogs. Follow my blog Quirks & All and stay in the loop.
If you are in Northern Rivers, NSW, Australia check out the Masterclasses and Workshops for your business and digital growth needs. Including our Towards 2020 – Social Media and Digital Marketing Trends or our 2 day skill building workshop Social Media for Business
Liss Caldwell is an Author, Structural Editor and Facilitator based in Brisbane and the Northern Rivers NSW. A global presenter on digital marketing and author branding she has been in the publishing and digital marketing industries over twenty six years and has been a coach nearly as long.
Liss specialises in strategic digital marketing using $0 organic reach and lean business techniques for business growth, scale and leverage.
Liss has had to learn to read and write three times this life, and to walk twice. A self professed geek with interests in writing, yoga, neuroscience, sports psychology and mindset, combined with a love of nature and animals keeps her busy on her rural property.
Liss empowers entrepreneurs and business owners through education by facilitating 1:1 sessions, seminars and workshops to assist bridge the gaps between goals and accomplishments.
Liss supports authors by navigating pathways to publishing, by providing manuscript development, structural editing and author branding services.