Small and midsized businesses have increasingly turned to Instagram as a resource to promote their brands, and Jim Squires, director of market operations at the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network, shared his seven predictions for the SMB sector in 2017 with SocialTimes:
- The shift to mobile will continue: It’s no secret that people love their mobile devices, with American consumers now spending three hours per day on their mobile devices, according to eMarketer. In fact, shopping on mobile reached record highs this holiday season, with Black Friday becoming the first day in retail history to drive more than $1 billion in mobile revenue at $1.2 billion, up 33 percent over last year. Customers are increasingly turning to mobile, so small businesses need to, as well. The good news is that reaching customers via mobile is becoming simpler than ever. If SMBs have a smartphone and an Instagram business profile, they have all the tools they need.
- Video will rule the day: In the shift to visual communication, video is becoming the medium of choice for marketers. Third-party research predicts that 75 percent of all data will be video by 2020. With new features like live video on Instagram Stories, businesses can connect with customers in real-time and take viewers behind the scenes of their business. And easy-to-use tools like Hyperlapse and Boomerang allow anyone to create engaging and relevant videos in just minutes.
- SMBs will deepen customer relationships: Customers crave real-time engagement with brands, as do small businesses with their customers. SMBs will continue to make strides in 2017 to connect directly with their customers, be it through calls, texts, emails, online chats and even tools such as Messenger. On Instagram, SMBs will also continue to take customers behind the scenes to tell the world how the business operates, the team that makes it all happen and the effort it takes to bring the product or service to market. This level of authenticity will help SMBs connect with current customers and attract new ones.
- SMBs will reach more customers globally: Mobile marketing has opened new doors for small businesses to connect with customers across the world. On Facebook, for instance, more than 1 billion people are connected to at least one business in a foreign country. With tools to help SMBs connect with new customers in other countries that look like their best ones here, that number will only increase. In 2017, we’ll start to see more domestic businesses become international ones.
- Content will be customized more effectively: While social metrics such as likes and comments are an indicator of marketing success, the real metric that matters is sales. With detailed customer insights available to businesses on Instagram, they can pinpoint actionable information about who their followers are and which posts resonate better than others. As small businesses dive deeper into the behavior and demographics of their audience, they can create more relevant and timely content, which will ultimately help drive sales.
- The barrier to entry will be lower, but with that comes potential challenges: The good news for aspiring small business owners: With the proliferation of new, affordable technologies and platforms for starting and running a business, becoming a business owner in 2017 will be cheaper and easier than ever before. Companies like Intuit, Shopify and Square have solved many of the pain points facing small businesses, allowing them to focus on what truly matters most: finding new customers and growing. The bad news? Easier entry will result in a more crowded landscape, with competition increasing across the board. And with a myriad of solution providers targeting the small business community, navigating the tech landscape will be increasingly difficult. Choosing platforms that help your small business stand out will be essential.
- Creativity will be democratized: It wasn’t long ago that creating a video ad was only available to big brands with hefty budgets. But in today’s mobile economy, small businesses can easily develop creative and effective ads from the palm of their hands. With a mobile phone and a few creative tools and resources that can help them be more agile and capture real-time moments, SMBs can create effective ads in mere minutes with built in distribution to 600 million people across the globe. Expect small businesses to push the limits of creativity in 2017.
Readers: What are your thoughts on Squires’ predictions for SMBs in 2017?
Image courtesy of Jim Squires’ LinkedIn page.