Social and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing have hit their stride — and now that every­one is back from win­ter break and set­tling in to the new year, it’s time to review the lessons learned from last year, and look for­ward to what’s need­ed for your com­pa­ny to shine in 2017. From the evolv­ing world of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence to expec­ta­tions of instant com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Sta­cy DeBroff, CEO and founder of Influ­ence-Cen­tral, shares her take on the social and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing hori­zon, based on her research and work with over 350 nation­al brands last year.

1. New Prod­ucts Roll in From the Brand Rev­o­lu­tion

As con­sumers – via social media – we all have a seat at the mar­ket­ing table —by shar­ing our needs and pri­or­i­ties through direct feed­back and our pur­chas­ing choic­es. We’ve seen the impact of the ‘brand rev­o­lu­tion’ on key con­sumer-fac­ing indus­tries,” DeBroff says. “In the com­ing year, brands will become even more attuned to the needs and pri­or­i­ties of the con­sumer, and increas­ing­ly shape their prod­uct offer­ings around the lat­est lifestyle trends.”

2. A.I. Solu­tions Point to a Brave New World

2017 will be the year when we will look more to arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence to lend a help­ing hand. “This cur­rent trend with start-up brands, as well as data ana­lyt­ics, iden­ti­fies applic­a­ble A.I. solu­tions as a way for con­sumers to nav­i­gate in an increas­ing­ly com­plex world,” DeBroff notes. “From advanced elec­tron­ics appli­ca­tions, to pin­point ana­lyt­ics that pre­dict con­sumer needs as they arise, A.I. is on the way, in a big way.”

3. “Instant” Speeds up as the New Nor­mal for Gen Z

What hap­pens when you grow up sur­round­ed by social media and tech­nol­o­gy? Expec­ta­tions of instant com­mu­ni­ca­tions and enter­tain­ment become inevitable. Gen­er­a­tion Z con­sumers grav­i­tate to instan­ta­neous social chan­nels such as Snapchat, Insta­gram, and the new social app “The down­side?” DeBroff explains, “This gen­er­a­tion has grown up with instant response as its base­line expec­ta­tion. We can count on at least three plat­forms we’ve nev­er heard of ris­ing to social promi­nence next year that embrace faster, more pic­to­r­i­al, and more spon­ta­neous ways for ris­ing Gen Z to bond.”

4. Niche Cura­tion Sorts Infor­ma­tion Over­load

We find our­selves awash with more infor­ma­tion than has ever been avail­able to us as humans, and we sim­ply can’t process it,” DeBroff con­cludes. “As a result, we’ve increas­ing­ly come to rely not just on curat­ed infor­ma­tion, but on the peo­ple we most trust to curate this infor­ma­tion for us in a way that res­onates with our lifestyle, inter­ests, and val­ues. In 2017, con­sumers will be on a mis­sion to find peer spe­cial­ists with niche exper­tise to fil­ter rec­om­men­da­tions that meet their needs in a cus­tomized way.”

5. Mobile Devices Forge On-the-Go Con­sumerism

In 2017, DeBroff pre­dicts we will see the emer­gence of a new “elec­tron­ics evo­lu­tion” with inno­v­a­tive tech­nol­o­gy and apps for the mobile phones we keep teth­ered to our sides. “As these devices offer up smarter, faster, and more intu­itive infor­ma­tion, they will become even more ingrained into our dai­ly pat­terns and con­nect­ed cul­ture — and dra­mat­i­cal­ly influ­ence con­sumers at the point of pur­chase. Mobile devices will emerge as shop­pers’ most val­ued shop­ping part­ner, as con­sumers check them for rec­om­men­da­tions from their net­work of trust­ed advi­sors while fact-check­ing prod­uct attrib­ut­es and using online coupons,” DeBroff says

6. Social Influ­encers Diver­si­fy, Spe­cial­ize and Grow Expo­nen­tial­ly

We’ve nev­er had more on-call peers to advise us — from peer advi­sors to spe­cial­ists and trend-spot­ters,” DeBroff notes. As we move into 2017, she pre­dicts we will “entrench our­selves more deeply with­in the social web, immers­ing our­selves in increas­ing­ly diverse and broad­en­ing cir­cles of dis­cern­ing opin­ions. These influ­encers will pow­er­ful­ly inform and guide us in our con­sumer deci­sions.”

7. Influ­encer Mar­ket­ing as a Fun­da­men­tal Brand Strat­e­gy

Many brands now rec­og­nized Influ­encer Mar­ket­ing as the industry’s hot “go-to” strat­e­gy, but they strug­gle on how best to lever­age it and mea­sure it from the per­spec­tive of busi­ness results and attri­bu­tion mod­el­ing. “As we head into 2017, influ­encers will entrench as defin­ing voic­es in con­sumer mar­ket­ing, as brands con­cede adver­tis­ing con­trol and look to pas­sion­ate brand advo­cates to sway con­sumers on social media,” says DeBroff.

8. Con­sumer Resent­ment of Intru­sive Mar­ket­ing Deep­ens

Op-ups, ban­ner ads, and dis­rup­tive brand mes­sages are all falling out of favor. Today’s con­sumers don’t want brands aggres­sive­ly push­ing their way into social media feeds, whether on Face­book, through pro­mot­ed Pins or Tweets, or paid-for Snapchat sto­ries. “As con­sumers seek to learn more about new prod­ucts on their own time, expect con­tin­ued resent­ment over intru­sive mar­ket­ing to deep­en in 2017. Con­sumers will con­tin­ue to vote with their feet … “walk­ing” away from social plat­forms that inun­date them with brand mar­ket­ing,” DeBroff notes. Sim­i­lar­ly, the tone and con­tent of ads needs to be geared to the new Gen Z par­a­digm: fast, smart, sassy, and rel­e­vant.