As your kids, nieces, and nephews start to strategize around their Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat routes, you’re likely starting to map out objectives, initiatives, and budgets for next year!
There’s always something new and noteworthy in the world of digital marketing – whether it’s a Google algorithm update that will impact your SEO performance or a new social media channel taking the world by storm.
Luckily for us, some of the Digital Marketing team weighed in on how they keep on top of this ever-changing industry and what they’ve got their eye on and are recommending for 2022!
What's the most interesting or surprising trend you saw in 2021?
Mel, Sr. Integrated Marketing Strategist: I predicted the rise of TikTok advertising in my blog about social media predictions for 2020, but I am still blown away by how much TikTok has grown this past year. This used to be a platform where youngsters showed off their dance moves, but today, it’s used as an educational platform to help others learn to cook, craft, and more. Brands need to think about how this channel fits into their marketing mix.
Dave, Digital Marketing Team Lead: Google’s continued emphasis on site performance and user experience (UX). I’m not surprised by the direction or the increased emphasis, but it is interesting to see how it has evolved. With Google releasing Core Web Vital tests and other tools, it’s apparent that site performance and UX will only continue to gain importance in terms of SEO performance.
Riley, Social Media and Campaign Strategist: The last year, we’ve seen such a rise and shift in the way influencers and users grow on TikTok, and ultimately how brands advertise on the platform. One thing that I personally find super interesting is the nature of trends on TikTok. With the platform’s algorithm, users find themselves on topical “sides” of the app based on the type of content that is served to them on their “for you” page. For example, I’d consider myself to be on #FoodTok as I interact with a ton of recipes and cooking accounts. These topical sides affect the way trends blow up on the platform and what might be on your “for you” page might not be on your friend's. When a trend goes very viral though, it’s a great way for brands to join in and get a piece of the conversation if their brand aligns with the trend.
Paul, Sr. Data Analyst: I think what is most interesting is the continued improvements we’re seeing in artificial intelligence and machine learning technology that helps us to provide better insights to the data we’re seeing. The current version of Google Analytics has some elements of these enhancements, and Google Analytics 4 will take these enhancements to a new level.
What publications or thought leaders do you follow to stay on top of industry updates?
Dave: Typically I’m reading Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, SEMrush, and Moz blogs. I’ll check out anything interesting I see on LinkedIn and obviously if Google puts out an update, I’ll read that.
Mel: The Morning Brew is my favorite publication because it’s entertaining and gives me a short summary of hot topics happening around the world every day. Plus, they now have a digital marketing-specific publication where I learn of industry news even faster. AJ Wilcox is also a great person to follow, he’s very knowledgeable about LinkedIn advertising and produces great educational content.
Paul: I like to follow Krista Seiden, who worked for Google for a number of years as a Product Manager. I also like to follow Julius Fedorovicius, a key thought leader and teacher of Google Tag Manager.
Riley: Mel introduced me to The Morning Brew and their specific marketing newsletter is a great resource for spotting trends and news in the digital world. Another great resource I find is a Facebook group I’m in for social media marketers that use Hey Orca, a 3rd party social publishing platform made for agencies, called Life In Social. This group provides valuable insight around everything from paid advertising to platform changes, and even organic social trends.
Do you have any predictions for 2022?
Riley: I think we’ll likely see TikTok’s direct competitor, Instagram Reels, continue to grow as more and more users and brands utilize it as a posting type. With any legacy platform like Instagram, brands and users already have a follower base so it's likely we will see brands posting there more to test the waters before they migrate over to TikTok.
Mel: I think brands have realized that in-person events are very expensive and time consuming, and therefore, we’ll continue to see a shift to online events and webinars instead. These are much easier to create and are less of a financial investment compared to an all-day in person event. This will make lead generation campaigns more important than ever.
Paul: I think there will be more interest from companies to explore what it would take to slowly transition from the current version of Google Analytics (i.e. Universal Analytics) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and the new tracking that would need to be implemented.
Dave: I expect that people doing things virtually and working from home will continue into next year and beyond, so we’ll see companies continuing to adapt and offer virtual/online support (if not already offered). Also, from an SEO standpoint, I expect brand awareness and site performance to continue to gain importance.
As our clients are budgeting for 2022, what is one project or initiative you'd recommend they prioritize?
Paul: I would strongly recommend that companies start budgeting for a Universal Analytics to GA4 transition and running both versions side by side. Although Universal Analytics will continue to be here for the next few years, Google is not planning to make any new improvements to this version. More importantly, it would be better for companies to be proactive in making this migration soon, with the luxury of running both versions concurrently to identify any problems vs. dealing with an unexpected announcement from Google that results in a more “forced” migration with little time to identify and fix problems.
Riley: As clients budget for 2022, they should be thinking about the current landscape in social media trends, and see what gaps they need to fill going into next year. If they haven’t thought about TikTok, why? Brands should aim to invest in strategies pertaining to short-style video content like TikTok and Instagram Reels or at the least have conversations about how those platforms fit into their media mix within the next few years.
Mel: Invest in video content! Videos continue to see the strongest engagement on almost every channel (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Spotify, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.) and can be repurposed and reused on your website, in email nurtures, and even on streaming platforms like Hulu!
Dave: As I alluded to in my previous answer, I recommend clients invest in their brand and website (from a performance standpoint). Get users more familiar with (and trusting) your brand and increase branded search; then, when users get to your website, ensure it’s an enjoyable experience with fast page speeds and a great user experience.
What trends most surprised you this year? Who are your favorite thought leaders? Let us know on LinkedIn!
Want to keep talking 2022 planning? Just reach out!