Hothouse had the opportunity to learn about the hottest trends of 2017 from one of the trendiest guys in town, Kerry Abner. His experience at Turner Broadcasting primed him to cofound his own intelligently cool agency, Intecoo. If that’s not enough, Abner is also an instructor at General Assembly, running workshops focusing on marketing strategies. As someone who works around the clock to connect brands with consumers through valuable and relevant content, Abner understands what trends people respond to.

From interactive breakthroughs in tech to today’s dicey political climate, he illustrated how companies like Hothouse can leverage these trends to make lasting, impactful impressions for clients. These takeaways are to be consumed and applied quickly, because before you know it they’ll be as 2000 and late as this reference.

 

Create a connection
Keeping brands in the eyes of appropriate audiences is essential to engaging consumers. Once that audience is identified, engagement tactics must be as intriguing as they are innovative. Abner does a lot of work with Micro-Influencers, social media users who have established their brand and secured loyal followers – usually below 30k. “There is something novel about being selective,” claimed Abner, adding that what they lack in reach, they make up for in engagement.

Brands are also immersing themselves in the lives of consumers with interactive tools like VR and Snapchat filters (notably Taco Bell’s legendary taco-face filter) to maximize their “return on involvement.” These tools get customers excited so they can engage with brands more deeply. Additionally, brands are taking long-term approaches to connect with consumers by educating them on topics beyond the brand itself. Content plays to develop strong connections with brand values, like Starbuck’s initiative to offer their employees legal advice in the wake of the current administration’s travel ban, reiterates the idea that social ROI is a marathon, not a sprint.

Take a stand
If you’re like us, 2016 left you with what Abner dubbed a “political hangover.” Various brands have entered this heated environment with swagger and gusto, communicating their stance to consumers through bold initiatives. Abner believes if your voice conveys the entire organization’s beliefs and is not just capitalizing on a political moment, there could be value in taking this route. He encourages brands to ask themselves, “If the backlash comes, are you going to stand there and defend your position?”

Another way to reinforce your brand’s position in the lives of consumers is to support social movements that reflect your ideals. For example, many brands are rethinking what it means to be “old” in a digital world and developing concepts that portray aging in a positive way. Lastly, while positioning your message, be mindful of where it is being positioned to. If you create a beautiful banner ad, you wouldn’t want it displayed over a fake news article about Yoko Ono’s affair with Hillary Clinton, would you?

 When it comes to tech, act natural
What feels like every millisecond, new tech is changing the advertising and marketing industry. Look for ways to naturally engage your market with these new mediums. For example, professional gaming conventions provided an opportunity for appropriate brands like Bud Light and Pizza Hut to align with consumers and enhance the gamer experience and culture, instead of extracting from them. Burberry’s interactive runway allowed viewers to purchase clothes seen on the models with a simple “click,” providing a natural tech fit with shoppable media and the high-fashion retailer. Even simple tactics like leveraging disappearing media platforms to deliver “screenshot deals” via Snapchat/Instagram stories can garner great results. Placing messages in tech formats your consumers already understand is an effective way to effortlessly build an engaging relationship with them.

 

We took Abner’s cutting-edge advice and asked ourselves how we can leverage these trends to connect our clients with their customers. The answer? You’ll have to keep an eye out for our latest work to find out…