One reason I enjoy working in the marketing and branding field is that the work is never the same. The way entrepreneurs market their products and reach their customers continuously changes – good for those who stay up to date with the latest marketing trends but bad for those who refuse to evolve. So what’s in store for 2017? Here are six marketing trends you should pay attention to:

1. What’s better than a huge billboard selling your product? A loveable, trustworthy personality who your target audience adores. In the past, this was limited to celebrities, but this is no longer the case thanks to the rise of social media influencers from make-up artists to comedians and more. Influencer marketing will continue to dominate in 2017 as consumers choose to trust recommendations made by those they consider thought leaders.

2. A trend that will continue to strengthen in 2017 is the use of virtual and augmented reality videos in marketing. Perhaps the most popular app of 2016 was Pokemon Go. The game showed us how augmented reality can drive businesses. Several UAE retail spots, such as Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, became huge attractions for those hoping to catch Pokemons, as many were located there – something that may have translated into an advantage for the mall’s retail spaces.

3. Livestreaming or broadcasting live will continue to dominate this year thanks to apps such as Periscope that allow users to share their experiences live. Event organisers can really benefit from technology like this. With Instagram’s integration of this into its Stories feature, I expect more businesses to take advantage to promote their products/events, possibly with the cooperation of a social media influencer who can encourage their followers to attend event X or try product Y or who would be broadcasting live from the location.

4. Incorporating short content into your marketing strategy is key this year. What makes an app like Snapchat popular in our region, is its short content – perfect for Generation Z with their limited attention spans – and the fact the content disappears after 24 hours. As you plan your business’s market strategy, keep this option in mind by aiming for video content that is short and sweet and avoiding heavy text to describe your product.

5. Remember, content on its own is not enough; it has to be engaging. Instead of just posting your marketing content on traditional media outlets or digital/social media channels, ensure you engage your users. Ask them a question, post a quiz or arrange a competition. Think of it as a two-way relationship with your customers. The more engaged they are, the more noise your business page will create, and hence the more followers you will attract. If you run a fashion business, arrange a competition where you give away a piece of your collection to the person who gets the most friends to follow your page. If you run a service-based business, then offer a discount or a gift card, which takes us to the next point.

6. Keep it personal. Do not use the same message across all your channels. Personalise each one according to the users who tune into it. For example, avoid a lengthy product description text when posting on Instagram. Instead, depend on strong visuals that make your audience stop scrolling up and down their feeds for a few seconds to take in what you have to say.

This list includes the main trends to keep in mind when planning your marketing strategy this year. The marketing field is unpredictable, and I expect a couple of trends to emerge midyear as technology continues to evolve.

The National Business