It’s officially the last few days of 2017. (And it feels like I was writing our Top Digital Trends of 2016 just yesterday.) How is it that the end of the year always manages to sneak up on me? Well, at least it is a perfect time for reflection; reviewing the previous year is one of the best ways to prepare for the next twelve months, after all.

I thought I’d take a quick look back to see what was trending in 2017. From the rising influence of voice search tech to devastating  hurricanes and fires to Stranger Things Season 2 premiere, we’ve had a tumultuous year. Let’s start of with a few fun finds from the internet.

Top Trending Video of the Year:

The most watched YouTube video clocked in more than 181 million views.

Most viewed GIF:

Love Gnome by Anna Hrachovec garnered 300 million views in 2017. It shows a stop-motion gnome, knit from yarn, who starts knitting himself, making a heart that then flies away.

Most popular Instagram hashtag:

#love

Followed by…

#fashion
#photooftheday
#photography
#art
#beautiful
#travel
#happy
#nature
#picoftheday

Best-selling electronic on Amazon:

Do you own a Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote?Top Google trends:

  • Globally, “Hurricane Irma” was the top trending topic.
  • Stranger Things was the most searched TV show.
  • iPhone 8 was the most searched term concerning consumer tech.
  • This was the top meme (which I only half understand):

  • And, in the United States, people really wanted to know about Golden Retrievers.

The number one dog breed googled in the U.S.

Now for some deeper dives into what consumers and marketers focused on this year:

Social Media Trends

A lot of things changed in the fast-moving world of social. Here are the six stand outs.

1. Rise of augmented reality

Our technologically-driven society wants more – more innovation, more immersion, more fun. And augmented reality can offer that. Not sure how it works? The core premise is that AR augments our reality by putting digital objects into the physical realm. People can see these elements by looking through AR lenses or even their smartphone cameras. We’ve already seen what AR is capable of through Pokemon Go and the Snapchat dancing hot dog. Brands like Estée Lauder use Facebook Messenger bots to allow users to try different lipstick shades remotely. Then, if you like how it looks on you, you can go to the company’s website and buy some makeup. The number of AR users is predicted to hit 200 million by 2018 and AR advertising spend is on the rise. Business and marketers are increasingly looking to use use AR on social media.

2. Increasing popularity of Instagram Stories

Back in June, 2017 Instagram announced that Stories, the feature where users can share videos and posts that disappear after 24 hours, was used by 250 million people every day. This meant that nearly 100 million more people use Instagram Stories than use Snapchat (who, as we know, actually invented the Stories format.) And Instagram Stories shows no sign of slowing down. The feature is now 1.5 years old and new elements like polling, and filters, and stickers are added frequently. As of November, Stories had accumulated 300 million daily active users! Instagram on a whole now boasts 800 million monthly active users, one-third of who use Stories every day.

3. Brands increasingly participating in messaging platforms

Brands are increasingly focusing on communicating with individuals, rather than their community as a whole. Time and energy is being invested in messaging platforms which allow for that one-on-one interaction. This channel is likely to be pursued more in the future, as brands can utilize it for customer service.

4. Continued investment in influencer marketing

In theory, influencer marketing has been around since the very beginning of social media marketing. It’s a simple idea: engage with people who are already popular and have a loyal following, then you in turn might become popular. The strategy really started taking off in 2016 and many 2017 budgets allocated twice as much for influencer marketing. Those numbers are set to increase further in 2018.

5. All eyes on Gen Z

Brands began to target a new generation. Millennials may still get thrown around the marketing table but really, brands want to know about what the youngest people are doing; Generation Z refers to people born in 1995 or after. This demographic has almost $44 billion in purchasing power. They’re also more private and resistant to ads than their millennial counterparts so brands have their work cut out.

6. Digital hangouts emerge

For the tech-savvy, digital hangouts became a popular form of socializing. These are apps that let you video chat with many people, at the same times. This is proving to be a good way to reach Generation Z.

Biggest Email Trends

Is the fact that email has yet to disappear okay to consider a “trend”? The ‘death of email’ has been predicted for years but the channel prevails, continuing to reinvent itself. Now, it continues to grow and adapt to the challenges of technologies and communication mediums. In 2017, this was most obvious in the form of personalization. Through the collection of customer data, brand marketers are able to apply data-driven insights to achieve next-level personalization.

Artificial intelligence is the Name of the Game

I’m dubbing this the top buzzword of 2017, across all channels. Most people still don’t grasp what it is. Lots of people were talking about it. Few were implementing it. Perhaps 2018 will be the year we see VR and AI become mainstream.

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This is a mish-mash collection of things that really stood out to me in 2017. Is there anything else you would add to the lists above?

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