In the age of the Internet, what’s every marketer’s dream? To go viral.

While traditional advertising channels are effective for building visibility bit-by-bit, embracing some atypical strategies can help your brand stand out in a unique way, and maybe even catch fire online. Keeping your marketing finger on the pulse of the latest technology and social media trends is a great way to stay relevant to the consumers of today and tomorrow.

In this post, we’ll explore a few unique digital marketing trends that are fueling new directions in brand discoverability. Then, we’ll dive into the ways your business may be able to take advantage of these trends. Let’s get started by putting on our goggles for…

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented reality serves as an overlay to one’s current real-world environment, while virtual reality can transport a user into an entirely different space. Not only can these burgeoning technologies fly you onto the Quidditch pitch, but they can also serve as powerful marketing and service platforms.

AR and VR are already being put to use in the retail sector by some major players, primarily as a way for users to experience new products before they buy them. For example, Amazon and Ikea have integrated augmented reality tech into their mobile apps, allowing you to see how a certain product would look in your home prior to your purchase. Other apps allow you to visualize sitting inside of a new car, check out how a new coat of paint would fit your living room, or even virtually try on a new pair of shoes.

As these technologies become more widespread and affordable, you’ll see more and more businesses using them as a way to get inside the heads of consumers. They’re also fantastic methods for engaging people at events in a more powerful way. Consider if your brand could find a place within the augmented and virtual reality ecosystem.

AI-Powered Chatbots

Chatbots have been around for years, but have largely been made of canned responses that couldn’t pass the Turing test, or a machine’s ability to engage with humans and pass off as a human versus a robot. Artificial intelligence has changed the game, making chatbots excellent tools for user engagement and customer service. Virtual agents are getting better and better at imitating their human counterparts, guiding the user journey every step of the way—even over the phone.

As the consumer climate is increasingly well connected and always-on, businesses are expected to provide stellar service around the clock. Not every company can afford to staff salespeople and customer service reps 24/7, but virtual agents can handle the job without the need for coffee breaks or vacations. While this may seem like a way to put well-deserving humans out of work, the positive flipside is that it frees up employee resources to focus on human-driven elements like creativity and innovation.

The more that chatbot technology can emulate the nuances of human interpersonal communication, the more widely accepted they’ll become in the business sphere. We’re already seeing adoption of smart chatbots by brands looking to stay connected with consumers via a multitude of channels, including social media, SMS, and voice. Don’t forget that one of the primary uses of these chatbots is to route users to the appropriate human agent!

Marketing with Local Influencers

The concept of using influencers, or popular social media figures, to market your brand is nothing new. Lately, however, the trend has shifted away from relying on global celebrities and moved toward local, industry-specific influencers. Brands of all sizes can target local influencers, and exchange free goods or services for some shares on their popular pages.

From DIY tech enthusiasts to mommy bloggers, every niche has influential figures that users turn to for the latest products and advice. Getting onboard with this trend is as easy as finding out who’s dominating a given #hashtag in your market and sending them a private message.

Staying Ahead of the Trends

The world of digital marketing is always changing, following the flux of user behaviors and preferences across the popular online platforms. Keeping up with the latest trends can be a full-time job in itself, which is why some businesses turn to a digital marketing agency to help them meet their visibility goals.

Whether you work with an agency or not, it’s important to stay tuned-in to the ways that prospective customers interact with each other and with businesses, and then try to look one step ahead. If you can be at the forefront of one of the aforementioned trends—or create a trend of your own—you’ll have a serious advantage when it comes to capturing the attention of the public.