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Mobility and virtual reality among top 2016 ongoing trends, Hotwire reports

Trends are forever evolving and how marketing can benefit takes thoughtful consideration. The recent Communication Trends for 2016 report published by global communications agency Hotwire offers some great insights for B2B and B2C markerters alike.

One clear trend for 2016 that is indisputable is the steady movement away from websites. Marketers cannot afford to be focused on driving their audience to a clients' website, as websites are not a primary marketing channel any more, the report notes.

Other trends B2B marketers need to consider, as B2C is already doing, is to make the move towards connecting to their audience as they rely more and more on mobile phones, wear-ables, and tablets.

In fact, some information sites like BuzzFeed are now generating 40 per cent of all its users away from its own websites through Snapchat, You-Tube and Facebook video. And, according to the report, where BuzzFeed goes, the rest of the media industry tends to follow.

What does this mean for B2B marketers? The report notes that LinkedIn is now poised to be for B2B what Instagram or Snapchat is to B2C consumers. Instead of trying to drive your audience to a website, LinkedIn can notify users if someone has published a post and serve them content on a platform they're already using. In 2016, the report states LinkedIn Pulse and Media will become the go-to channels for B2B marketers to find information.

The report addresses ad blocking, which is a concern gaining momentum in the B2B sector. Ad blocking is not only a challenge for traditional advertisers; but print and online media rely on advertising to generate revenue. The fact that ad blocking came about has given rise to the practice of sponsoring content or ‘native advertising’ as a potential strategy to compensate for ad blocking. Like a major online newspaper 'native advertising' offers brands the option to develop their own content that looks and feels more like a piece of journalism. However, once your agency begins creating content for your target audience, how do you also reach the younger generations that do not rely on print, TV or banner advertisements? The report recommends consideratiom of cultivating those in a department who use new channels and influences. Taking an avid Snapchat user at work and making him or her into the resident Snapchat guru, as well as learning the platform itself, is key. Reaching an audience across channels and ensuring that it resonates between channels is the main goal.

Focusing more on locale is also a key new strategy for 2016 and can be beneficial in B2B marketing. The Hotwire report notes that integrating a location into a content creation process is a way for a company's target audience to understand the nuance of location - as a way of understanding the entire environment they work in. Hotwire reports that going local gives marketers the chance to run national and international campaigns without sacrificing a personal touch. By focusing a little more on location and why this is relevant, B2B brands can build an identity that people can relate to.

Virtual reality will continue to play a bigger role in communication and advertising and marketers must begin to understand its impact, the report notes.

The Hotwire reports stresses that virtual reality is here to stay. Citing an example of its potential, the report refers to Amnesty International’s effective use of virtual reality to give very real experiences of the crisis situation in a Syrian refugee camp. The result was not only an immediate uptick in donations to the group, but it resulted in more online chatter. The use of VR also brings up another key topic in the report; that company values matter more than ever today. Doing good is not only good for business, doing good is just good. Many companies are increasingly judged by their social and economic policies. Every communications leader should hold strategy sessions specifically dedicated to establishing corporate values.

Finally, although many in the B2B sector may have joined the new streaming platforms and channels late in the game, it is not too late to raise the bar and work with agencies that have a deeper understanding of the channels that work best.

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Laurie Fullerton

Laurie Fullerton is a writer based in Boston, MA with a background in business, sports, community, medical and travel writing. She has been a newspaper editor in the Boston-area, a sports writer covering yacht racing and a community reporter. She has been reporting for The Drum since October 2015.

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