The 21st Century has brought us many things: Wi-Fi, the smartphone, and in-home AI, to name but a few. The continuing rise of digital technology will keep pushing the world of business ahead, opening up new creative and practical possibilities.
But what are the digital trends most worth thinking about at the moment? From social media to the impact of tech on your office culture, we’re going to talk you through the top six trends you need to know to keep your business moving in the right direction.
Recommended reading: How To Prevent Facebook From Harming Your Web Presence
Live content: lights, camera, action
Behind the scenes. How it’s made. Meet the teams. Humans are naturally voyeuristic, and now they have Instagram Watch, Facebook Live, Twitch, Youtube, and numerous other ways to satisfy the urge to follow what others are doing.
Don’t worry about the implications of going live: a well-planned live campaign will rarely go awry, but even if there’s a slight fluffing of words, your consumers will understand. After all, you’re human! And that’s what they want to see, warts and all.
Storytelling: it brings us all together
Nowadays, consumers are looking for a personal touch. They want to know that you want them, not just anyone. They want to feel a connection. They want to follow a story. You can no longer rely on your product to do the talking.
Where do their coffee beans come from? Who made that personalised necklace? Is this cotton ethically sourced? Your brand, your company and your team need to live your story in everything you do. That connection is what people are craving from businesses.
Online influencers: please like and subscribe
Connecting with bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers is a great way to get your business out there online without the extra work for your team — particularly since bloggers are crying out for partnerships with brands. The communities that develop around online personalities tend to be close-knit and responsive to their reviews and opinions.
A word of warning, though: don’t expect to get support for free. You wouldn’t give away your products or services for free, and influencers need to make money as much as anyone else. That said, you will find that most will be willing to negotiate their terms.
If you haven’t got anyone working on outreach, start to look for social media influencers who match your values and fit your niche. A book blogger probably wouldn’t fancy promoting that new lipstick you’re pushing, but there will be someone out there for every business. Get someone in your team on an outreach project and get influencers on your side.
Flexible working: you can clock in anywhere
Gone are the days of the 9-5. Businesses are having to adapt to the changing tech landscape, and that includes the impact on their staff. In principle, most (if not all) of your staff can now work from the other side of the world if needed.
This flexibility is also great for expanding skills outside of work time. People are making great use of their mobile options to pursue side hustles. The online world has marketable businesses for sale that can be run from anywhere, so even someone pushed for time can experiment with ecommerce from their kitchen.
Moving to a flexible working model doesn’t have to be a total commitment right away, but with the cost of office space always rising, it’s understandable that these arrangements are only going to get more popular. It isn’t about pushing your staff away — it’s about letting them use the fluid digital landscape to work most effectively.
AI: the bots are back in town
In such a fast-paced world, there’s one thing consumers want most: information. And when do they want it? Instantly. Whether it’s the price of a shirt seen in a window, or some advice on how to cancel an account, the average consumer will invariably want to know something — and without staffing your business 24/7, you’re going to struggle to meet demand.
That’s where chatbots come in. The concept isn’t new, but the execution continues to improve to such an extent that: “all of our jobs are eventually going to be replaced by AIs and robots” (quoted in Marketing Speak) – yikes!
Today, companies are creating and implementing bots that can check your bank account, store your savings, answer your questions, and even check up on your wellbeing.
70% of 18-34-year-olds surveyed by The Drum confirmed that they’d had positive experiences when using chatbots, and with the improvements we’ve seen in recent years, it’s clear that there’s a very bright future for conversational automation.
Cross-platform profit: the Fortnite effect
If you haven’t heard of Fortnite yet, where have you been? The gaming phenomenon has swept across the globe. In January 2018, Epic confirmed that there were 2 million concurrent players on their platform. Just one month later, that figure had risen to 3.4 million.
So what has Epic done to capture the imaginations of consumers worldwide? It has created a platform that allows play across multiple devices. Dad can pick up his Xbox, mom can grab the Switch, and the kids can play on their tablets — Epic has essentially turned Fortnite into a social network of sorts.
And you might question the value of this since Fortnite is available for free, but Epic is now worth around $8 billion dollars because of this one game, and it all comes down to giving players options to spend money through in-game purchases.
That way, they can tailor the game to their own styles and personalities, purchasing add-ons, costumes, celebration dances and more. That level of customisation — combined with the social bond between friends and family members — is what keeps people loyal to the brand, and makes them return to the game over and over again.
It’s not all good news
Unfortunately, with the rise of all these incredible digital opportunities for businesses comes to a commensurate rise in business disruption. Some of the biggest brands out there have been hit by security issues in recent years (Amazon, Facebook and Uber are notable examples).
Cyber attacks and phishing are becoming more prevalent, so before you consider pushing forward with these amazing digital trends, make sure that you can sustain your business in a digital landscape. We share more and more information online, and your consumers need to know that they can trust you with their information.
So be safe, and do your best to prevent issues from occurring in the first place — that way, you won’t ever have to deal with them while you’re benefiting from these creatively-exciting trends.
Kayleigh is one of the writers at MicroStartups – a blog all about microbusiness. We believe in business growth through giving and supporting the local community.