A Year Of Meaning: Second Source Experiences And Private Information Sharing in 2017.

Cue the 2017 predictions, it’s that time of year and they are everywhere…

I’ve never really been a fan of the ‘What will happen in year XXXX’ in the world of digital marketing and social media. However, this year feels different for me! I believe that we are currently living in one of the most EXCITING times in the digital space, a time where technology enables making decisions as consumers, through attributing meaning via secondary lived experience, more and more prominent and a time where private information sharing is shaping the way we communicate with communities and consumers developing far deeper relationships than ever before.

So, I’m jumping on the prediction bandwagon and thought I would share my thoughts, based on my own experience and communication as it has developed and continues to develop as I navigate the digital space. I foresee that there will be two KEY areas that will change the way people do business with us as business owners and brands in 2017.

I believe that 2017 will be the year of meaning in digital marketing …

1.) Experience through a second source to enable more meaningful decision making

Live stream and video has developed exponentially in 2016, it has created opportunities and connected us on a much more meaningful level than ever before. I think live stream in particular, is going to develop even more as we head into 2017. I am not just talking about including a live stream here or there as a part of an overall strategy. I am not just talking about sharing an opinion to sell a product or a service. There is much more meaning to it than this for a content consumer. I am talking about knowledge being gained through a second source, through an outlet other than our own experience. Our own experience has been and is becoming a more and more valued source to help to shape the way that others see the world, form opinion, take action and make business decisions.

Every person cannot possibly directly experience all possible events for themselves. We rely on language, logic, maths and so on and so forth to provide us with information indirectly. It makes it possible to help predict what would happen (i.e. respond in an appropriate manner) in a new situation which has never been personally or directly experienced.

I believe that social media users will want more vicarious experiences. People are demanding social media more and more as a channel to have those vicarious experiences, to gain an understanding of something they may not understand by living it and experiencing it through the eyes of another. I believe it will no longer be enough to post only opinions about a product, service or event. Take events for example. Showing a community what it’s like to be there, in the moment and involving them in the experience will be key to understanding their needs as communities and consumers from a content creators point of view. From a content consumers point of view, It will help to enable more informed purchasing decisions about buying a ticket to that particular event in the future, based on the way that moment is lived through the eyes of another, in a way that would not have been previously experienced.

The famous Chinese proverb …

“Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I’ll remember. Involve me, I’ll understand”

… has never been more true than it is now and heading into the next year as we navigate the digital marketing space. People are craving experiences to learn but more importantly, to create meaning in their minds to ultimately make a decision … It really is a time to respond to that demand and help them to attribute meaning through your own experience.

It will not be enough to share a video or live stream that tells people what ‘to do’ e.g Join my programme and you will generate XY and Z . Through technology development and the way in which it has opened up possibilites to allow us to share in-the-moment experiences, consumers have become far more savvy and sophisticated. Consumers have far more choice and access to businesses and brands then they have ever had before and as result, a purchasing decision is more considered because the choice of options available is greater. I believe that as individuals, we want to make our decisions and attribute more meaning psychologically to those decisions in the way we make a choice on how to buy a product, service or engage with a brand.

The growth in technology enables us to create these experiences in the most dynamic environment. Live video, 360 images and video will enable us to do this more and more. Even for those of us who don’t want to turn on a camera, just doing more real-time posting will add to vicarious experience.

I believe sharing an experience and then stepping back to allow people to create and attribute their own meaning through sharing your experience will continue to grow and develop and become even more important for buying decisions in 2017.

2.) More Private Information-Sharing.

A huge shift is happening between public information and private information-sharing. I have noticed and experienced that there is less public sharing and more private sharing of information happening and I believe that this correlates to making business decisions. The past 12 months have seen me communicate on a one-to-one basis more than ever before and it has increased my client base and the quality of relationships that I have with my clients.

Messaging Apps, in particular WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat Messaging have been a huge part of my own business growth and I foresee that this going to increase in the next 12 months. This requires us to invest more time, to go deeper, to really understand and develop relationships on a much more meaningful level than previously experienced. I believe that business will take place between people who take the time to personalise their communication in a private environment.

Sure, this provides a problem from a scaleability point of view for personal brands looking to significantly grow their numbers, but I believe it is great news for those who seriously want to grow business relationships that have more longevity. Of course it is dependent upon individual business goals, but I believe that those who choose to invest time in really getting to know people and growing, developing and nurturing relationships through private messaging Apps will be the winners of 2017 as opposed to those who try to blanket approach all, give little time to anyone and fail to establish any kind of meaningful relationship with anyone.

This also opens up the ability to gather more data and moreso personalised data, conversational data, that has far more meaning than asking people to fill in a twitter poll or subscribe to an e-mail list or enter into a sales funnel (not that I don’t advocate these methods, because they work very successfully for many) but because there is more control of conversation, you are in control of an environment that encourages the development of a more intimate relationship, your customers are there one-to-one or in small groups where you can really listen and understand their needs and wants. This provides us with so much information to be able to deliver a service that is absolutely tailored to their very personal need. We will be able to deliver much better products and services that we know our customers will love because they have told us, in detail, beforehand.

In conclusion…

I believe 2017 will be the year of meaning in digital marketing. Meaning is not something new, it is just that technology enables us to be able to develop meaning on a whole new level; both through vicarious experiences on a global level and through private information sharing. I have always attributed meaning to the sales process. To understand the meaning to a client, of generating an extra 500k in revenue or to take on an extra 20 staff a year, has always been hugely important for me to understand. What that 500k or 20 additional staff actually ‘means’ to them as a business owner and a person is crucial to my selling process. Does it mean an extra family holiday, a new vehicle, university funds for a son or daughter, the ability to gain back time to be able to attend school concerts, sports days, graduations? All of this is important because it is no longer just about business, it is put into the context of life and personal situations. It is not just about having money or extra staff, It is about lifestyle, the much bigger picture. When you can equate the value of your service or product in a meaningful way by contextualising it to something that is a personal want or desire, rather than just equating it to numbers, sales or metrics, selling becomes a much easier process.

Technology enables us to share experience helping us to make a psychological buying decisions based on second source experiences that we would have never been able to access prior to live streaming. It also enables us to have incredibly meaningful conversations and grow much deeper relationships through private information sharing. This is a mind-blowing and exciting time in the world of digital marketing particularly for those who choose to embrace meaningful marketing!

2017 …. I am ready for you!

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and predictions for 2017! It’s going to be one heck of an exciting time!