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Business Trends for 2016: What SME’s Should Be Doing

January 6th, 2016

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The Internet has emerged as one of the most significant influencers of the 21st Century, and so it shouldn’t be surprising that the majority of SME business trends for 2016 are online. In fact, you’re reading this article online right now, aren’t you? You clicked a link or stumbled across the article on social media, or maybe even a friend or business partner sent this to you.

That’s the power of the Internet – instant access to all the information you could ever need, easily shareable and more interactive than traditional print platforms.

Yet according to the Sensis Social Media Report 80% of SME’s don’t have a strategic social media plan whilst only 33% of businesses have a social media presence online in the first place.

With 68% of consumers on social media, the role of the Internet as an essential tool for SMEs is becoming more and more clear.

But it isn’t just social media in 2016 that you should look into. It’s also online marketing, personalised user experiences, mobile and tablet apps, and digital assistants that are just some of the many current and up and coming trends.

So with that in mind here are 7 business trends that SME’S should focus on in 2016.

Social media

Are you part of the 33% of businesses that have a social media presence but have no strategy in place to complement it? Firstly, not only will you struggle to generate a return on investment, you’ll probably find yourself rapidly falling behind your competitors that have a strategy in place to target the new intuitive and user-friendly trends within social media this year.

Social media and SEO

If you haven’t already started implementing SEO strategies into your online content now is the time to establish a plan for 2016. The simplest strategy is SEO keywording because it allows online queries typed into a search engine to match the content on your social media page/s. The more relevant your keywording is to online queries the better chance you have of increasing traffic to your social media pages and then subsequently your website.

This is especially relevant if you plan on using Twitter as it signed a deal with Google last year that gives the search engine access to its stream of tweets.

So if you are tweeting about your business or your target audience is tweeting about your brand than this will increase your chances of appearing in search results leading to even more traffic to your various online platforms. This also applies to Google+, with the Google search function showing content from the platform in its results.

Social media as a search engine

Social media users are increasingly searching for products and services directly on platforms such as Pinterest, Facebook and Youtube. This is because they have direct access to product reviews and feedback from a multitude of people from differing and similar demographics.

Facebook has responded to this trend by creating a new mobile feature called “add a link”. When using the Facebook app on your mobile device, users can click the “add a link” function when writing a status to open up a search box that will browse the web for the link or information that they are looking for. The user can then directly embed that link into the post. Therefore, users can now use Facebook as a search engine tool to share relevant content with their friends and followers.

Therefore, by creating a quality social media strategy you increase your chances of your brand being found and shared online.

Buying directly on social media

In October of last year Facebook announced that it would be testing a new ‘Shopping’ tab feature. This comes along after the increase in social media platforms implementing “buy buttons” and virtual shops to their functionality.

Facebook is currently testing a button on News Feed posts that allows users to purchase items without leaving the platform at all, while Google has already successfully implemented “buy buttons” on search ads and Youtube videos. However, these aren’t the only two. Pinterest now has over 60 million shoppable posts and Twitter has made its “buy buttons” available to hundreds of thousands of social media users.

So how is this relevant to SMEs? “Buy buttons” can be a hugely positive trend because it helps SMEs struggling with creating or funding the creation of an online or mobile shopping app. “Buy buttons” are an instant shopping experience that is accessible to any of your brand’s followers. However, it’s still early days so this is one trend to keep an eye on throughout the year.

Digital

From print to computer, to computer to laptop, to laptop to mobile, to mobile to tablet. Digital convergence now allows businesses to connect with their demographics quicker and easier than ever before. However, convergence can also mean that SMEs fall behind bigger competitors with better budgets and resources. But have no fear! 2016’s digital trends aren’t all immediate or extremely costly, but rather gradual trends that SMEs should watch and analyse how they can be attainable in the future.

Mobile over Desktop

2015 was the year that Google announced mobile traffic has taken over desktop traffic in 10 different countries, including the US and Japan. It was also the year that the search engine released an algorithm called ‘Mobilegeddon’, which will begin to phase out sites that aren’t optimised for mobile in an effort to increase the visibility of mobile-friendly sites and decrease the visibility of non-mobile-friendly ones.

Therefore, if your business doesn’t currently have a site that is optimised for mobile than consider creating one this year. From Google’s actions it appears they predict that mobile be the more relevant platform in the future. But as there is no time frame for this transition, it’s still recommended that your business have both a desktop and mobile site for users to access.

Not only will the mobile site make sure that your business appears in search engines such as Google, when mobile becomes the more predominant platform you’ll be ready for your target audience to use your site.

App over Mobile

It’s predicted that mobile-optimised sites will be replaced with apps in the near future because apps can do everything a website can, but better. They are considered to be more convenient, more accessible and more interactive, so it’s natural that this trend should be picking up now to complement the sharp increase in mobile traffic.

Google has had app indexing for a while now, and 2016 is poised to be the year that more businesses realise that having an app dedicated to their brand is really beneficial to online visibility, especially if it means having a better online ranking in the future.

Digital Assistant Optimisation

Everybody loves Siri, so much so businesses should now be thinking about a new kind of optimisation – Digital Assistant Optimisation. Siri (iOS), Cortana (Android) and several others use traditional search engines like Google, but they do so only to find the relevant information asked of them. Therefore, SMEs should start thinking about ways to optimise their brand for spoken queries rather than typed questions.

Although this is just in the beginning phases, optimising for Digital Assistants is something to consider as part of future business strategies. Small ways you can start optimising your online presence for this would be to make sure your brand’s information is easy to access by itself rather than within your site specifically.

Influencer Marketing

In the world of user-generated content there are the influencers, the creators, and the consumers. As not all creators are influencers, you need to identify which online users reach your target audience or demographic and how. From there you can open up a network of people who can help get your brand name out there and influence people to buy your products or services.

User generated content over traditional marketing

Social media influencers have the advantage of being able to amplify your message in a powerfully viral way. This is especially important to SMEs in 2016 because user-generated content is predicted to increase and overtake branded marketing as the most effective way to get content to a demographic.

Therefore, 2016 is the year of word-of-mouth! By targeting and creating relationships with influencers that can blog, post or snap pics of your brand you will be able to seamlessly get your business out into the webosphere without appearing to be “old fashioned” and “out of date”. 

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David Hill
David has over 15 years in the insolvency industry – advising clients through restructuring of their business. His clear, “straight up” style provides clients with a strong direction of what they need to do, and how the process will work. As importantly, he brings empathy to the process – which is essential at a “high-stress” time for clients.

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