Welcome to our December business eNewsletter focused on Small Business Trends for 2018.
Quote of the month:
“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” – Chinese Proverb
In this Issue…
- 6 Small Business Marketing Trends for 2018
- 90% of Small Businesses Plan to Hire in 2018 – Depending on Budget
- Small Business Cybersecurity Trends For 2018
- 10 Social-Media Trends to Prepare for in 2018
6 Small Business Marketing Trends for 2018
By Sarah Hanney
Marketing has always been a shifting and evolving landscape and increasingly technology is leading the way when it comes to reaching consumers. It’s important to stay ahead of the trends and take advantage of new marketing opportunities as they emerge.
As we look forward to 2018, here are some emerging marketing trends to consider putting into action.
1. Social Media as Publishing Outlets
Social Media platforms are increasingly exploring options for users to move beyond simply sharing content by allowing them to publish their own content. Over the last year LinkedIn has been growing in popularity as a publishing outlet, with many companies using the platform to boost their B2B marketing via influential articles. Snapchat and Instagram now include linking features that allow users to swipe to read articles. And Facebook’s Instant Articles is becoming increasingly popular with many content creators using the feature to publish their articles directly to the Facebook App.
Content marketing is no longer just about creating great content for your website. It’s about getting your content in front of consumers where they’re already at. And using Social Media as a publishing outlet is an effective way to do so.
2. Instant Connection Via Live Streaming
Consumers are no longer satisfied with faceless, generic marketing. They want and expect real human connections. Businesses are using live video streams to establis real-time human connections with their audiences. Whether it’s streaming a product launch, running B2B webinars, offering Q&A sessions or streaming product reviews, live videos are becoming an established part of small business marketing strategy. And when you consider that 80% of audiences would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, it’s a marketing opportunity that really can’t be ignored.
3. Out-of-home advertising
Out-of-home advertising (billboards, bus stop posters, outdoor panels etc) is seeing something of a comeback. With the rise of digital billboards and panels, the format is becoming more flexible and relevant, as well as successful at driving online traffic. Many big brands have already recognized the benefits of linking their online marketing with out-of-home advertising. And with the rise of online platforms that offer click-to-purchase rental of billboards and panels, the medium has become more accessible to smaller businesses. Campaigns can be targeted to run at specific locations for as long as marketing budgets allow.
4. Purpose Driven Marketing
Marketing can be just as much about connecting with consumers’ emotions and conscience as it is about showcasing a great deal or new product. Brands can use purpose driven marketing to target an audience based on their shared needs and interests – particularly in supporting a worthy cause. Customers are loyal to brands that have a purpose, with 91% of Millennials saying that they would switch brands to one associated with a cause. Partnering with nonprofits and charities, or establishing a “give back” programme can give a brand a stronger presence by aligning their purpose with the values and priorities of their consumers.
5. Influencer Marketing
2017 has seen a rise in the use of ad blockers, and as such digital marketers are looking for alternative ways to reach consumers. Influencer marketing is an effective way to get round ad blockers, as well as a way to reach relevant target audiences. Furthermore, influencer advertising can be far more powerful than paid ads with 90% of consumers claiming to trust peer recommendations, whilst only 33% of consumers trust adverts. 2018 will see marketers working more with micro-influencers. These are influencers with an audience of 1,000-100,000 people (as opposed to macro-influencers with an audience of around 10 million followers). Micro influencers are 4x more likely to get a comment on a post than macro-influencers and have loyal followings within specific niches. If you can find the right influencers in your specific niche, micro influencer marketing is likely to give you a far better ROI than paid ads.
6. Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality has been simmering away on the back burner for a couple of years now, and the medium is expected to go mainstream in 2018. You may not have the budget or know-how to ride the crest of the Virtual Reality wave, but the trend should serve as an indication of the importance of investing in visual content. Creating interactive graphics and video on a website now will serve as a starting point for future exploration into virtual reality marketing opportunities.
Read this article Business2Community.com
90% of Small Businesses Plan to Hire in 2018 – Depending on Budget
By Rob Starr
Small business optimism remains high and with this optimism comes thoughts of growth.
According to a Microsoft Store and SurveyMonkey survey to determine trends for the upcoming year, the company found that 90 percent of small business plan to hire one or two employees next year. At the same time, counter to this optimism, is the reality of running a small business.
Of those responding, 23 percent said budget constraints were their most important worry for 2018. This worry could be a damper on plans to grow by hiring.
For the survey, Microsoft Store polled 1,300 small businesses in the U.S. Companies surveyed had between 1 and 200 employees. Microsoft Store shared the information with Small Business Trends ahead of releasing the data.
2018 Small Business Trends
Here are some other key takeaways from the results, highlighting where small business owners will be focused in 2018:
A number of small businesses (37.6 percent) planned on launching new services and or products despite these ongoing concerns about their budgets. Still, these potential cash issues topped the list of worries for 23 percent of respondents and small companies that had been in business for less than a year were the most concerned.
There were other optimistic numbers. Just over 35 percent of the respondents said they were going to put together a new marketing strategy. Just under 40 percent said they have plans to give back to the community where they run their business.
However, many small business were lacking when it came to one of the most important issues for modern enterprises.
Many reported they felt unprepared for cyber security threats. What’s worse, a number were either not concerned about a serious data breach (50 percent) or are not planning to protect themselves (25 percent).
There were also a number of respondents that took cyber security seriously. Of those, many said they would rather pay for a service than do it themselves. Thirty percent of this group reported using encryption software and 40 percent said they made sure their employees were using antivirus software.
Less that one quarter of small businesses said they were looking to partner with another small business. Only a small number of respondents (6.2 percent) were trying to find a mentor.
For more information about the Microsoft Store survey, please see the infographic in the article.
Read this article SmallBizTrends.com
Small Business Cybersecurity Trends For 2018
In addition to staying relevant in a highly competitive market, small businesses have another major worry to handle: cybersecurity. According to the Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report, 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses. A dramatic jump since 2011, when this figure was only 18%.
Cyber crimes are constantly evolving and being a small business owner means you’re in a high-risk group. Malicious attacks have many ugly faces – from various phishing attempts, identity thefts and malware distribution to domain hijacking and illegal uses of sensitive information. Taking urgent measures for damage control once you become a victim is necessary, but preventing attacks is far better. Here are the cybersecurity trends for 2018, so you stay safe and protected.
Cloud Storage Security in the Focus
Cloud computing systems are becoming a preferable choice of an increasing number of companies, which means it is becoming a desirable target for criminals too. Cloud storage has been praised for its defense measures such as patch management, filtering, effective reporting system when it comes to addressing potential threats or incidents, and timely security updates.
Cloud providers can easily reallocate resources for encryption, authentication, and other measures, but this way of data management is a two-edged sword. Sometimes data controllers (i.e. cloud customer) cannot see if agreed data handling practices are truly respected by the cloud providers. This is why cloud providers small businesses choose need to be trustworthy, highly professional companies with relevant expertise, i.e. capable of recognizing attempts of social engineering and thus, protecting the data from trespassers.
Ransomware and Other Phishing Techniques
Cybercriminals have truly become the masters of their professions, hacking online profiles or designing fraud log-in interfaces only those highly detail-oriented can detect. Just remember what happened in May 2017, when a massive phishing attack via Google doc link occurred, target at least a billion of Gmail users.
Phishing is all about misrepresenting oneself as a trustworthy source so to collect sensitive information for illegal purposes. Criminals are getting pretty creative with ways of tricking users and getting what they want, while ransomware became the most popular technique: up to 93% of phishing emails contain a virus that then gets released on the victim’s PC. Afterwards, the victim gets contacted and asked for a ransom in exchange for saving all of his or her data and files.
When it comes to small businesses, this can be especially dangerous, given the fact companies don’t operate just in-house data, but customer information as well. Luckily, there are ways to recover files encrypted by a virus, so your business is not held hostage by anyone. Paying the ransom is not advisable as criminals are not to be trusted.
Deception Technologies and IoT
Internet of Things (IoT) is a buzzword that’s taken the world by a storm. However, the operational technologies are very vulnerable, which is why small businesses turn to deception technologies for an extra layer of security. This innovative security solution was named as one of the top 10 security measures by Gartner as it ensures control system is protected, as well as the wholesome infrastructure of the IoT. Deception technologies impose thousands of fake credentials on the company network, so when criminals try to access it and misuse the data in any way – they fail, since it is mathematically impossible to get through. Another great plus: deception technologies note down the exact way criminals tried the attack, which allows small business owners to learn more about the criminal behavior and possible security flaws of the system.
Online frauds have become more sophisticated and it’s getting harder to detect them. Particularly vulnerable groups include companies that are focused on finances or have some sort of payment service included, such as eCommerce businesses. Whatever industry you work in, keep in mind these cybersecurity trends for 2018 and stay protected.
Read this article at the IBM.com
10 Social-Media Trends to Prepare for in 2018
By Rosario Méndez, Contributor
Powerful social-media trends affecting both users and brands are strengthening and accelerating.
In the past year, a number of significant stories involved social media: Facebook lured Snapchat users to Instagram, the president of the United States communicated official policy positions in 140 characters and Apple announced plans to alter the way we interact with our mobile devices.
Next year, social media is poised to create even more disruption as a number of new technological advancements go mainstream, and as social norms related to social media change. Here are the top 10 social media trends to prepare for as 2018 draws near.
1. Rise of Augmented Reality
At the first-ever event hosted in the Steve Jobs Theater, Apple announced the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X. Both devices incorporate a new chip that allows the phones to provide users with extraordinary augmented reality experiences. While augmented reality will have its initial impact on mobile gaming, it is likely that social media platforms will find ways to incorporate the new technology as well.
For example, it’s conceivable that Snapchat or Instagram will soon support filters that allow users to take a selfie with a friend or celebrity projected via augmented reality. Similarly, brands could soon project their products into the homes of social media users through special filters.
Related: Expecting Revolutionary Innovation From Apple’s Reveal Event? You’re Missing the Point.
2. Increasing popularity of Instagram Stories
Over 200 million people use Instagram Stories each month, which is over 50 million more than those who use Snapchat — and Instagram Stories is just one year old! At this rate, nearly half of all Instagram users will be using Stories by the end of 2018. This means that brands interested in connecting with Instagram users must take the time to master Instagram Stories.
3. Continued Investment in Influencer Marketing
Over 90 percent of marketers who employ an influencer marketing strategy believe it is successful. Companies like North Face, Hubspot and Rolex use social media–based influencer marketing strategies to connect with new audiences and improve engagement with existing audiences.
This year we saw that brands that opted for traditional advertising strategies struggled to connect to social media users. Next year, it is likely that more brands will embrace influencer marketing as a way to connect with audiences who tend to ignore traditional strategies.
4. Focus on Generation Z
A recent study conducted by Goldman Sachs concluded that Generation Z was more valuable to most organizations than millennials. Today, the oldest Gen Zers are 22 years old. They are just beginning to enter the labor force, and will have increased buying power for some time.
Brands will begin to recognize this, and will shift their social media strategies accordingly. Expect great investment in platforms loved by Gen Zers like Snapchat and Instagram.
5. Increasing Brand Participation in Messaging Platforms
Over 2.5 billion people use messaging platforms globally, and yet brands are still primarily focused on connecting with consumers on pure social networks. In 2018, expect brands to invest more time and money in connecting with consumers on messaging platforms. Artificial intelligence, voice assistants and chatbots will enable brands to offer personalized shopping experiences on messaging platforms like Messenger, WhatsApp and Kik.
6. Expansion of Live Streaming
What was once a novel gimmick has become a mainstream part of social media. Today, brands big and small have started using live streaming to capture the attention of followers.
GORUCK, a backpack manufacturer and the organizer of extreme endurance events, is one example of a medium-sized brand that has grown its reach by live streaming compelling content on Facebook. Thousands of followers tuned in to watch 48-hour coverage of a recent endurance race.
In 2018, more brands will begin to realize the power of live streaming, and will incorporate it into their monthly content plans.
7. Rethinking Twitter
Twitter has failed to grow followers significantly in 2017. In fact, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram all have more social media followers. This year, Twitter also lost access to streaming NFL games (Amazon won the rights). In 2018, it is likely that Twitter leadership will aim to rethink how the platform operates.
Possible changes to Twitter include selling the company to private investors, changing the platform to include some subscription element and/or revamping Twitter advertising options, which have fallen behind other platforms.
8. Digital Hangouts Go Mainstream
Houseparty is a video hangout platform used by over one million people each day. It is primarily used by Gen Zers as a way to hang out with friends digitally. The platform is so successful that Facebook is reportedly investigating ways to create a similar functionality within their platform.
We have already seen video become increasingly important on social media, and live video group hangouts are a natural next iteration of this trend. It is conceivable that in 2018, Facebook will announce a similar product to Houseparty that will win over users, just as Instagram’s introduction of Stories did.
9. Facebook Spaces Goes Mainstream
Facebook isn’t just interested in live video streaming; they’ve been working on a project called Spaces that is designed to allow friends to connect in VR. Given that Facebook owns Oculus, a virtual reality hardware and software company, it is no surprise that the social media giant is developing a platform to make use of this new technology.
Facebook is poised to scale Spaces in 2018. When they do, it is likely that it will be the first successful VR social media product at scale.
10. Social Platforms Embrace Stronger Governance Policies
After a series of controversial decisions during the 2016 presidential election, social media platforms have embraced a more hands-on approach to governing conduct on their platforms. Facebook recently turned over thousands of ads that seem to be connected to Russian meddling, and has invested in new AI and human forms of monitoring.
Given the wide criticism that Facebook and Twitter received during 2017, it is likely that these platforms will embrace codes of conduct and governance policies that protect the brands from future criticism.
Related: Facebook Is Testing Fake News Filtering Overseas
A number of new social media trends that will impact users and brands alike are strengthening and accelerating. It is likely that video streaming and virtual reality will go mainstream. Additionally, brands will turn to newer social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat as Gen Zers increasingly spend their time there.
With the announcement of the new iPhones, augmented reality has a chance to become a part of social media in ways that were unimaginable only a few years ago. Lastly, Twitter and Facebook will most likely adjust their policies to protect their brands from political criticism and to provide users with better online experiences.
Read this article at the Entrepreneur.com
The views and opinions presented in this newsletter do not necessarily represent those of SpiritBank.