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Just as we were getting comfortable with changing algorithms, the rise of localization, and the decline of organic reach, the ever-changing business of marketing gets set to welcome a new era of digital buzzwords.

Say hello to the rise of messaging, conversational chatbots, and Facebook Pay—to name a few. Don’t fret. SOCi is here to help future proof your marketing strategies. We look ahead to five digital trends forecasted to make a big splash in 2020 and beyond.

1. One word: messaging.

The top messaging apps—WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ, and Skype—combined for nearly 5 billion global monthly users, exchanging 50 billion messages per day.

Private messaging, and sharing via stories and groups, drives personal connections. Most importantly, in our mobile-first world, messaging is the number one-way consumers prefer to communicate with businesses. This shift from sharing publicly to conversing privately, calls for a more personal, communication-driven approach by brands to authentically reach customers online.

Naturally, Facebook has jumped on it. As Facebook Messenger expands both its user base and functionality, count on significant changes in customer care and the way businesses sell and customers pay for goods and services.

2. Chatbots are the future of digital marketing.

A few years back, Gartner boldly predicted by the year 2020, the average person will have more conversations with chatbots than with their spouse, a rapid rise in the use of conversational artificial intelligence (AI) also projected to power 85 percent of all customer service.

Voice and text-based AI has arrived and is quickly bridging the gap between users and brands. From swiftly handling customers queries to resolving issues, chatbots—considered the face of AI—are the future of digital marketing. Siri, Alexa, and Google may grab the headlines, but chatbots provide the potential to elevate interaction between customers and brands in more human-like ways.

As AI technology evolves, augmented intelligence — combined human and AI capabilities — will deliver the greatest benefits, according to Gartner.

3. Social networks will continue to evolve as retail platforms for franchise brands.

Expect more businesses to sell goods and services directly through messengers as shoppable posts and click-to-Messenger ads become the norm. Again, Facebook is leading the way. The recent launch of Facebook Payessentially consolidates payment processing for its locations under a single brand. The service allows you to send money in the U.S. without fees across Facebook and Messenger, followed soon by Instagram and What’s App, and eventually available in other countries.

Paypal’s Venmo and Facebook Pay, separate from the platform’s cryptocurrency wallet plans, are just the start of the social commerce surge. By 2025, 50 percent of people with a smartphone, but without a bank account, will use a mobile-accessible cryptocurrency account, Gartner predicts.

4. Social listening grows more intelligent.

The most successful companies on social media listen to their followers. Monitoring social media campaigns and conversations around your brand, and the competition is integral to any digital strategy. Social listening can drive engagement in real-time, provide more targeted and valuable content, spot industry trends, scout your competitors, and help identify and ward off potential problems. AI-driven social listening tools will allow for more intelligent decisions in 2020.

5. Local marketing reigns supreme as customer expectations rise.

Brands eager to capture the attention of today’s savvy customer must continue to connect on the local level.

When done right, local marketing can help you reach 98 percent of your digital consumers, where they are already looking. To do so, companies will have to work harder to make their local presence known in a noisy digital landscape where consumers count on content experiences. Real-time conversations are the new conversions. And, while automation and chatbots are all the rage, personalized engagement will also be on the rise, leveraged by smart use of video and augmented reality.

Brands must deliver consistency, and high-quality engagement as the lines between local search, local social, and local conversions are becoming increasingly blurred.

The future of localized marketing is about building interactive online communities that get people talking, the use of micro-influencers, mini-social network communities, and brand-driven storytelling that informs, entertains, and inspires.

Learn how SOCi can help take your
localized marketing to the next level.