Now that we’re a few days into the New Year, we thought it would good to talk about social media/digital marketing and the trends we noticed in 2015. Looking forward, these are the things we’ll be keeping in mind as we draft digital marketing and social media plans for clients.

2015 was the year of the emoji. Oxford Dictionary named the emoji ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ the word of the year, making it the first pictograph to be named as such. According to Swiftkey, a global leader in mobile technology, ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ was the most popular emoji globally in 2015, and made up 25% of the total emojis used in the UK and 17% of the total in the US.

Emojis have been around since 1999, but only recently exploded in popularity. We’re not not only seeing them in  social networking feeds and text messages, but in our email inboxes as well. Marketers have taken notice of their growing popularity and are beginning to include emojis in email subject lines, tweets, posts, stories and photo captions that entice consumers to Click, Watch, Share or ‘Like’ their content.

With more and more custom emojis packs (like the Star Wars ones above) being developed and released, we don’t think this trend is going away any time soon. If emojis aren’t part of your social media or digital marketing plans, we strongly recommend having a discussion to see where they can fit in.

According to a report from comScore, advertising budgets for digital are expected to surpass TV budgets in 2016. And Facebook’s autoplay feature for videos ads is driving this change. Users only have to scroll over an ad before it begins playing automatically without sound. If the ad is compelling, users have the option to click to listen. What have resulted thus far from the autoplay format are better ads that people want to watch.

For us, video is the ultimate storytelling tool. According to our video expert Vince, there’s a lower cost barrier to entry into the production of video for online delivery, but it’s important that marketers remember that the medium doesn’t work if the story isn’t there. Without a disciplined approach to strategic messaging, scriptwriting and visual continuity within your brand, video can introduce confusion or just be ineffective. We like to focus on narrative in the shaping of our own video projects – there’s only so much pretty pictures and graphics can do without it.

Since making its way into the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary in 2014, ‘Hashtag’ has become part of our everyday vocabulary and marketers are catching on. A properly executed hashtag promoted at the right moment has the ability to bring people millions of people together worldwide (Ex: #PrayForParis).

Now, we’re not saying your next digital marketing campaign has to include a hashtag guaranteed to go viral, but if you plan to include a hashtag in your next digital marketing efforts, be sure it makes sense for your audience. Hashtags ‘link’ your content to other web content with similar subject matter and allows users to find you organically.

In 2016, we predict marketers will be smarter about throwing around hashtags but pursue more thoughtful and ‘viral-worthy’ tags, thus expanding their reach and increasing message continuity across social and digital platforms.