Tech Savvy

By keeping up with emerging media and technology trends, retailers can find new ways to stay engaged with their customers.


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The speed at which technology evolves can easily feel overwhelming, whether it’s new devices or the digital and social channels we engage in. We are bombarded with headlines about the “next big thing” in marketing, about a new social network that’s sure to be the new Facebook or Twitter.  In reality, it can be hard enough keeping up with changes the current Facebook makes, let alone trying to predict what’s going to replace it—if anything will.

A much-touted headline from 2014 read “Facebook has peaked, will lose 80 percent of its users by 2017.” That headline was published by both national and international news media and in respected publications such as Time and Information Week—all of them quick to jump on a then newly released Princeton study. Businesses were encouraged by some to abandon Facebook before it was too late. 

When that study was published, Facebook had approximately 1.2 billion monthly active users. Today, it has more than 1.7 billion. 

Heading into 2017, key marketing and consumer engagement discussion trends include live video, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, chatbots and much more. Quickly overwhelming, right?

Ultimately, not all these headlines, trends and buzzwords will be relevant to us, but some absolutely will be. Whether a small, locally owned business or a large national brand, it’s critical that we stay relevant to our audience—our customers, prospects and community. 

Sometimes that means we simply get better at using the digital and social tools we already have, such as investing a little more time to create better content, or learning how to optimize Facebook ads more effectively. Other times, it means we adapt and evolve in more significant ways—we engage with customers in a social network we’ve never used before, step outside our comfort zone and learn to use live video broadcasts or even embrace an entirely new and somewhat intimidating technology. 

If we do these things well and with the right balance, we don’t just stay relevant, we gain competitive edge. We stay connected with our audience in more meaningful ways. We spend less and reach more relevant people. We build loyalty and empower advocates. We outsmart when we can’t outspend.

During my Global Pet Expo Academy seminars this year, I’ll split my focus between two distinct topics. 

At “Get the Most from Facebook Advertising,” I’ll build on interest I’ve seen from attendees during my last two years at Global. Facebook advertising is powerful, affordable and effective. Whether you have $100 or $1 million to spend, Facebook is a simple and tremendously effective marketing tool with the potential to connect you to a very highly targeted audience. During this year’s Facebook session, I’ll focus on practical and strategic techniques to optimize and evolve Facebook campaigns for more effective results. 

At “Emerging Media and Technology Trends and Your Customers,” we’ll take a look at some of the latest trends, such as 360 video, chatbots and virtual reality. We’ll break them down in easy-to-digest ways, look at potential opportunities for businesses both small and large, and we’ll give you a chance to try out some of the technology for yourself, including a virtual reality headset. Even if you don’t feel these trends are something your business needs to embrace today, you’ll leave with a good understanding of the reality behind the headlines.



Ben Smith is director of social and emerging media for Callahan Creek. As a community of thinkers and makers, Callahan Creek provides full-service marketing support to brands across the U.S. and focuses on rejuvenating brand health, sales and profitability. Smith works with a diverse range of consumer brands to integrate social media into all aspects of daily operation, from developing strategy and process, to providing employee training, to guiding community management and other tactical executions. His clients include major brands in the companion animal and pet pharmaceutical space. He also works extensively with emerging media and technologies, exploring key trends that impact consumer brand relationships. He has hosted more than 100 social media and technology-related conferences, regularly speaks to diverse audiences at conferences and trade events across the U.S., and is actively involved in the national Maker Movement, including participation in the 2016 White House Nation of Makers kickoff event.

 

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