2016 Digital Marketing Trends

Is your organisation ready for the digital-first world? Does your firm possess a well-defined path to digitisation that caters ultimately to the bespoke needs of your customer?

You should have spent a portion of your time in 2015 assessing your capabilities around the SMAC stack (social, mobile, cloud and analytics) and currently be proactively fine tuning internal strategies to improve and differentiate core capabilities leveraging these tools.

Certainly many C-suite pundits predict four technologies which will be particularly important for marketing success this year: cognitive computing, cloud, mobile solutions and the Internet of Things (IoT).

It’s worth examining at this point whether your marketing department still adopts a traditional approach or is striving to become more data driven.

Take email marketing for example, many marketers can attest to “spray and pray” tactics in the past, but this year such techniques will be deemed obsolete since artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies will make it easier to personalise individual communication for customers.

Lara Albert, VP of global marketing at Amplero in a CMO interview sums up how data and personalisation drilled down to the individual level can change marketing’s image from zero to hero: “Marketers will thrive in roles where human creativity is appreciated and, at the same time, complimented by the power of machine-based marketing platforms.”

With so much attention placed on customer journeys and experiences all powered by digital, here are four digital marketing trends for 2016:

1. Marketers finally get to grips with data

Slicing through reams of big data and focusing on smaller nuggets will help marketing make better decisions. This means adding skill sets such as data analysis and management to the team.

Accounting for little data becomes a priority. Justin Cutroni, an analytics evangelist at Google makes the point: “I think the one thing that really excites me is the continued convergence of data. Businesses are merging more first- and third-party data sets to draw deeper insights about existing customers, attract new customers and, ultimately, increase revenue.”

2. It’s all about the customer

Marketers will focus on what customers need and what they want to hear. They will also take that message everywhere the customer “hangs out”.

3. The rise of content marketing

Expect content marketing to focus further on providing value to the consumer, as opposed to focusing primarily on the brand’s message. It will however have to be easily consumable.

4. Retargeting gets sophisticated

Moving beyond emails and websites, this year’s social and display advertising, as well as mobile app data, will combine to display to prospects contextually relevant content that helps move them forward in their customer journey.

The problem with traditional retargeting ads is that over time they become less effective, plus some prospects actually resent being “followed” around the web. Inattention blindness, which is defined as the failure to notice an object that is in plain sight when focusing on something else, plays into this.

Marketers, however, can shift this paradigm by delivering ads that understand a contract beyond the product just viewed, while taking into account everything known about that prospect.

This is a guest post by Hayden Richards. You can follow him on Linkedin here.

Featured image by Alan O’Rourke from audiencestack.com.

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TrendMicro’s Missed Opportunity in Controlling a Social Media Storm

Is your brand prepared for a social media storm? Yesterday, a serious security exploit with TrendMicro’s antivirus was unearthed by Google Security Research. Twitter, of course, reacted quickly and created a social media storm for the antivirus firm.

emplify-trendmicro-timelineHow did @trendmicro handle it? Well, they pretended that it never happened!


By not actively engaging and controlling the situation, @trendmicro easily allowed their reputation to corrode. To be fair, the disclosed vulnerability has already been fixed by TrendMicro. Although the original implementation was “shockingly insecure”, TrendMicro did acknowledge the problem swiftly and released a fix within 5 days of reporting (yesterday’s report was only disclosed after the patch was released). So while TrendMicro is to be blamed for its lack of security practice, credit is due to its product team for quickly patching the issue.

Unfortunately, TrendMicro sat quiet on the social media front and missed its opportunity in controlling the situation. Rumors and made-up stories soon spread like wildfire on Twitter leading users to believe that their antivirus was insecure and uninstalling it would be the fix.

Monitoring @trendmicro on Emplify we can easily see that just the top 4 authors have over a million potential reach combined! If @trendmicro had just focused on the top 10 authors, a lot of damage control could have been done.


It’s an unfortunate incident for TrendMicro but a good reminder for all of us that social media storms can hit you anytime. How are you preparing your brand for a social media storm like this? Let us know in the comments.

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Demographic Trends in Hashtag Tracking

This Infographic by Carlos Monteiro and featured in Adweek shows how the different social networks are growing in relation to their demographics – which is good to know if you are doing any hashtag tracking or other research in a particular market. 

You’ll notice there are a lot more seniors being attracted to Facebook, while Instagram continues to be dominated by people under the age of 34. All networks are predicted to grow around 10% in 2015, except for Facebook, which will have more static subscriber growth.

Social networks are becoming search engines?
88% of consumers who are online are influenced by reviews. They look at YouTube videos, what their friends say in Facebook, and what reviewers are saying in Yelp. This may be a good time to start monitoring what’s happening in your respective markets.


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5 Ways to Lower Your Social Listening Costs

One of the reasons why marketers aren’t doing social listening is because of its high perceived costs. Many marketers think that social listening is expensive, as many of the social listening tools out there begin with a pricing plan of hundreds of dollars per month. Why is social listening so expensive (and conversely, why is Emplify so reasonable)?

The answer lies in data access fees. Today we’re going to take a look at 5 ways that you can do Social Listening without breaking the bank by avoiding data access fees.

  1. Use unique hashtags for your campaigns

The costliest component of Social Listening is usually data access fees. Surprisingly, many marketers do not pick a unique hashtag for their campaigns! By not using a unique hashtag, you’re infinitely increasing both the amount of data and the complexity in filtering for post mortem analysis, and hence increasing your costs.

  1. Know your tracking volume

Related to point 1, another mistake marketers make is to go blindly with high-data-volume solutions without realizing that they do not actually need it. Many non fire-hose solutions provide a sufficient amount of data for most campaigns. For example, Emplify supports up to 3,000 messages per hour per track – that’s 500,000 messages per week! If you don’t need to capture more than 500,000 messages in a week, chances are you don’t need to pay for higher-end solutions (given that you know Emplify!).

Emplify track preview provides you an estimated volume to help you save money on Social Listening

Emplify shows you an estimated tracking volume during track creation
  1. Find your best mix of tools

As with many other toolsets, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for Social Listening either. Emplify is great in providing a high-level overview of your accounts and campaigns weekly and giving you actionable insights to start your week. There are many other tools that help you in other specific areas such as follower growth, automated replies, and trend predictions. Finding the right mix of low cost tools that work for you will save you both time and money.

  1. Setup your monitoring ahead of time

Many marketers have learned this the hard way – social networks make money by making historical data access paid only. So if you want to analyze some tweets from an event a month after it has ended, chances are you will have to pony up quite a bit for them. By leveraging tools like Emplify (which allows you to record and archive data for a considerable amount of time) and setting up your monitoring ahead of time, you can get the same analytics as opposed to paying for the data a month later, less the costs.

  1. Set a sampling rate

Last but not least, not requiring 100% coverage on data is another way to save money on Social Listening. This is applicable when you’re doing trend analysis or general research as random sampling of data should not affect the results. This is one trick that is most often overlooked as many post mortem analyses are trend-based and do not actually need 100% coverage of data. Most high-end Social Listening tools will allow you to define your sampling rate while Emplify automatically applies a sampling when your data volume is high.

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hashtag tracking tool basher

What A “Hashtag Tracking Tool” Basher Taught Us

Hashtag Analytics: Getting the Word Out

As with many start-ups, communicating the value of your product is one of the most crucial yet challenging tasks to do. Recently there was an interesting exchange between us and an Emplify prospect that clearly demonstrated how we were not communicating the values of our hashtag tracking tool, Emplify.

It all started a promotional message we sent an active social media marketer. We sent him an email saying:

“Emplify gives you both sharable real-time analytics and 7-day historical snapshot on any mentions, keywords, or hashtags on Twitter and Instagram for FREE. We understand the importance of maintaining a positive reputation online for any business and thus we believe making social listening accessible is a huge step forward.”

And we listed a few of our top features. That’s always been our approach as we believed that the list of features was what our prospects wanted to hear.

So What You Have A Social Media Listening Tool!

He returned the email with the question:

“Can you tell me what you’re doing differently beyond the multitude of other hashtag tracking tools or social media listening tools (of which I’ve literally heard of hundreds)?”

After that he added, “For me I have bucked the trend of going towards hashtag tracking and conversation driven analytics. In my own work I deal with behaviors, social graphs, finding those who act upon their interest, not merely those who use the right hashtags.”

This Felt Like A Wake-Up Call!

We started Emplify with a simple vision, “to make the simplest social listening solution out there”, bringing you the just right amount of analytics at the right cost. So we were disappointed to be lumped in with all the free or cheap tools out there, which in our opinion, are gimmicky and deliver their solution with either great limitation or bait-and-switch approaches!

So we returned the message with a nice explanation of Emplify being a fully-featured, sophisticated listening app, in particular on follower relationship analysis:

“Our followers/influencers analysis does look at the relationships and will show you not only who followed/unfollowed you, but also what kind of people they are. You can then build a relationship with them and expand your audience by finding people similar to them.”

And Then He Warmed Up!

He suddenly became interested in what we are doing, and shared a lot more information about his business. It turns out that our upcoming features cover many of his existing workflows and can automate them for him. We haven’t yet shown him this new workflow yet, but we’re confident that he’ll be addicted to it once we have it.

We want to thank this prospect for waking us up!

Instead of communicating our values on how we could improve your ROI by highlighting the efficiency of your actions (causation of change in volume, reach, followers) and giving you actionable insights to act on (top messages, top new followers, top influencers to reach out to/thank), we tend to be focused on a “laundry list” of features – and that ends up making our product a little less valuable.

So we’re going to make a departure from that and soon you’ll see how these values are communicated front-and-center in both our app and the website (hint: sign-up now to get notified when we launch this refresh). If you have any suggestion on how we can do this feel free to leave us a comment.

And thanks for the critical feedback.

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hashtag.analytics PICS

How Hashtag Analytics Can Help You Land Clients

Competitive advantages come from having an edge, and that is where Hashtag Analytics come in. By using a good social listening tool, you can obtain insider knowledge about trends and the people who are influencing the conversation. This is the type of information that helps agencies to win new clients.

For example, Rafael Rositsan of the Bluedoor Agency says:

 “Right out of the gate, Emplify enabled us to create 100 tracks, show prospects what was happening with their brand using the PDF reports function, and win business for our social media agency!”

Share a Tracked Keyword, Hashtag or Brand Name

  • Going to a convention or event? Get the program of all the attendees or vendors. Do some hashtag and keyword research on their brand name, industry buzzwords, or consumer conversations. Create a PDF report for each, and approach them with this valuable industry information that shows what is being said about their product or service, or compares what them to what the competition is doing.
  • Doing some prospecting by email? A good social media listening tool will allow you to share a track of social media feeds showing all the activity around a certain keyword, hashtag or brand name. Set up some monitoring inside the social listening tool and then email the shared track to prospects. This gives prospects an overview of the conversation – and the incentive to get some help if they need it.
  • Create a track on the fly. Now and then you meet that potential client informally like at a party or other social event. Create a track on the fly that shows them what is happening around their brand, and offer to share it with them. Tell them you can track that hashtag or keyword over time to see what the trend is and keep them informed.
  • Show off your “Big Data”. Use a robust listening tool that can deliver large amounts of data for you to analyze and study. Clients are more convinced when they see that you are playing with large volumes  – implying you have the technology and know-how to handle major accounts.

Photo Credit: Ryan McGuire

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hashtag tracking history

Tracking the History of Hashtags, or Historical Hashtag Tracking

You’ll have to excuse the wordplay in the title, but we just couldn’t resist! Hashtag tracking is a recent development, as the “hashtag” as an identifier has its origins in 1970 assembly language, to denote “immediate address mode”. It was called a “hash symbol” way back then.

In 1978 it was used in the C programming language for special keywords, and later used in IRC networks to label groups and topics. Chris Messina, an Open Source Advocate, is credited with the first hashtag tweet in Twitter, when he said:

how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
—Chris Messina, (“factoryjoe”), August 23, 2007

Stowe Boyd coined the term “hash tag” in 2007, when he wrote a blog post about “Hash Tags = Twitter Groupings”. And in 2009, Twitter started to hyperlink all hashtags in tweets to Twitter search results. “Trending Topics” were introduced in 2010.

Since then hashtags have taken off in all social media, appear on products, in television broadcasts, political events, and on advertising. Brands such as Gatorade have begun registering hashtag phrases, although there is some debate in legal circles whether hashtag trademark registering will hold up in court – especially when it represents a phrase that is considered common language (someone named Donald Trump tried to trademark “You’re Fired” years ago, and lost the case).

Emplify tracks hashtags in both Twitter and Instagram. Try it out for free here.

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hashtag tracking

Hashtag Tracking Fight Over London Bridge

We launched our Instagram hashtag tracking tool over a month ago and have been enjoying the inspirational photographs on it since.

We wanted to find out how Instagram compared to Twitter, as far as reach, engagement, and content. After tracking the hashtag “#LondonBridge” on both platforms for a while, here’s what we’ve learned.

  1. Twitter still has higher reach than Instagram, on average.

Of the messages collected, there are 1,306 tweets and 2,435 Instagram posts mentioning #londonbridge. However, Twitter spots a whopping 3 million potential impressions with just 1,300 tweets while Instagram gets only 834k impressions with almost twice the messages. This means that on average a tweet has 8 times more impressions than an Instagram post in our sample. We find this trend to be generally true for most hashtags that we monitor – that Twitter’s reach is still better than Instagram’s thanks to its higher average number of followers per author.

What does this mean to you: You are more likely to be heard on Twitter than on Instagram at the moment. So it probably makes sense to make Twitter your priority if you’re just getting started.

  1. Instagram wins on quality engagement.

While Twitter won the first round on reachability, Instagram steals the trophy back when it comes to engagement. Not only engagements (replies, likes/favorites) are higher on average, Instagram also scores much more replies (almost 10x). We find Instagram to be less spammy in general and that could explain the higher engagement.

What does that mean to you: Choose Instagram over Twitter if you can afford to – a.k.a. you have both inspiring content and the time to engage with your users.


  1. News on Twitter; Inspirations on Instagram.


This shouldn’t surprise anyone: Twitter is still the best medium for news. During our sampling period, a trespass incident happened at the London bridge station and caused delays on Southeastern’s rail services. The #LondonBridge hashtag was flooded with tweets about the incident on Twitter while Instagram went quieter than usual. This is a great example of Twitter being the news channel and Instagram being an inspirational one – perhaps the delay prevented tourists to reach the London bridge to snap those breathtaking pictures!

What does this mean to you: If your campaign is time-sensitive or newsworthy, be sure to leverage Twitter. On the other hand, get on Instagram if you’re doing something inspirational.

So which platform will you use for your next campaign? Let us know of your reasons in the comments section below.


Image: George Rex.

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The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Instagram Analytics

Now that Instagram analytics and Instagram hashtag tracking is becoming more popular, we thought it would be a good idea to write about the type of insights you can get from monitoring one of the most popular social media platforms on the planet (for a list of tools go to our blog post here).

See Total Instagram Messages and the Number of Unique Authors
The total number of Instagram messages in a given time period can be determined, as well as the number of unique authors who created the messages. This gives you an idea of the vitality of a particular hashtag or keyword topic: fewer unique authors may mean the people creating the messages are more influential and have a large reach.

Monitoring Messages Per Hour
The number of messages per hour gives you an idea of the velocity or volume that a topic in Instagram has. A number that’s off the charts means it’s hot, hot, hot!

How many times are users interacting and engaging with the topic? This is another indication of how important and viral the topic is.

Top Followers
The top influencers who are following the hashtag or keyword. This information could be used to create a campaign that would engage people who have a wider social reach, or help a brand reach out to people who are “ambassadors” of their brand.

Are users perceiving the message or image as positive or negative? Sentiment gives a quick snapshot of how favourable a topic is with an audience. It may also indicate customer dissatisfaction or “social proof”.

Message Type
Another viral indicator. How are messages created? Are the messages original, or are a large portion of them shared? More sharing might indicate more novelty, whereas more original messages could mean more participation.

Volume Over Time
What are the anomalies over time? Instagram messages may peak on certain days or fall off during business hours. Sentiment over time lets you determine when messages are most positive or negative.

Top Hashtags
Top hashtags indicate what hashtags you should use to target users, especially if they have a high popularity or high positive rating. Hashtag clouds give more information about the terms used around the topic and also highlights their importance relative to each other.

Top Influencer
Who the major influencers of the topic are users who can make the biggest impact in affecting the overall tone of the messages. Influencers can be ranked by users with the highest number of followers, or users with most authorship on the messages.

What are the most impactful messages? Instagram messages panels (in real time) show the latest Instagram pictures and messages with hashtags and then filters them by recency, which messages were shared the most, and which messages are most favorited. A great way to see exactly what is going on and see what people are posting and engaging with as it happens!


Photo Credit: Ryan McGuire

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