The World of Digital Marketing in 2016
Let’s face it. This was not a banner year for anyone. Politically, economically, environmentally and socially, things have been a bit rough. But if you’re reading this, there’s good news! You survived a year that’s universally accepted by all to be pretty much the worst. And if we really poke our brains, we can probably find something great that happened this year. Since it’s the last week of the year, let’s take a look at what happened in the world of SEO and digital marketing.
The Good: Always #LikeaGirl
Contrary to popular belief and self-deprecating jibes, we are definitely evolving. That is most obvious in the way our understanding of gender roles are changing. Compared to the sexist cigarette ads of the Mad Men days, companies have taken long strides to fight for gender equality. However, it continues to be an uphill battle, and the bias runs deep.
Enter #likeagirl. This year, Always has taken the simple sexist “like a girl” simile and turned it into a campaign for female empowerment. In a year that a misogynist candidate was elected president, this campaign received an enormous amount of support and positive feedback. Words are powerful weapons. That’s why Always is encouraging women, especially pubescent, soon-to-be-needing-Always-products tweens to take back the “like a girl” insult and spin it into something positive. If women can redefine bitch and thus undermine all attempts to objectify them, then so can young girls turn [verb]ing like a girl into an action of strength, unity, and intelligence.
The Great: REI #OptOutside
— REI (@REI) November 26, 2016
Black Friday is possibly the most obvious display of North American consumerism (not to mention irony) there is. The highly discounted items are undeniably enticing, otherwise, droves of crazy mobsters wouldn’t risk life and limb to get their hands on them. Whether you’re an avid shopper or a staunch minimalist, one thing you can’t deny is how insane it all is.
REI has a perfect solution for the Black Friday crazies. How about not shopping at all? Its highly successful #OptOutside campaign worked on many levels, despite essentially telling its customers not to shop at its store on Black Friday. The retailer that appeals to the outdoorsy, adventurous type didn’t alienate its fans or undermine its own ideals and people really loved it.
The #OptOutside campaign made many “Best Of” lists this year just by thinking outside the box, staying true to its mission statement and not giving into corporate greed. REI shows us that marketing isn’t always about making sales. Sometimes it’s about standing up for a cause and sticking out from the crowd.
The Awwwwwwful: Microsoft @TayTweets
— Horst Walter (@szkieber) December 2, 2016
At this point, artificial intelligence isn’t exactly smart enough to think for itself. Which is why you should never send a baby robot out into the unfiltered, trolling world of Twitter and expect it to come back untainted. Microsoft learned the hard way that the Twitterverse is an ugly place, devoid of hope, compassion or human decency.
When they set up @TayTweets, “Microsoft’s A.I. fam from the internet that’s got zero chill! The more you talk the smarter Tay gets,” it took literally hours to transform this monkey see, monkey do robot into a foul-mouthed antisemitic monster. Let’s be clear, it’s not Tay’s fault that she’s said some pretty uncolorful things. But what was Microsoft expecting when they released a robot that will repeat what you tell it to?
Unfortunately, Microsoft has since cleaned up and abandoned @TayTweets (our follow request is still pending), but that hasn’t stopped its 170k trollers from keeping her name alive.
2017 in Digital Marketing
When it comes to digital marketing, we don’t know exactly what 2017 has in store, but we’re hoping some trends stay while some go away.
What We Want to Stay:
- More thorough research: it’s evident (and embarrassing) when companies don’t do their homework, which often shows up as cultural insensitivities and just plain factual errors.
- Open-mindedness: the marketing world will always thrive on progressive ideas. Just because the world seems to be falling apart, marketing should espouse ideals of love, peace, and tolerance.
- Compassionate marketing: both Always and REI have produced successful campaigns because they fight for us, not with us. Companies should strive to be on our side, no matter what the product.
What We Wish Would Go Away:
- The heteronormative family: while many companies are well on their way to representing different family types in their campaigns, homophobic and racist backlash continues to slow us down. We say, show us real 21st century families in your marketing and advertising. With so much positive feedback, it’ll be easy to ignore the nay-sayers.
- Profit Hunger: We accept that money is the bottom line. But brand loyalty, philanthropy, and reputation are also factors of success. Like Always’ campaign and REI’s #OptOutside message, show you care more than just about profit.
What other marketing campaigns stuck with you this year? Leave a comment below to let us know. Marketing starts with a brand. Without a strong brand, your marketing will fall apart. If you need help with your logo and company image, why not hire an expert? Awkward Media has a proven track record of building beautiful brands from scratch. Just ask us.