Part One down and some excellent debates on the go already. Now to count down our top 10 trends to watch in 2016.

10. Social spend will increase

Again? Data is opening up new levels of targeting and the smarts in customer relationship management is allowing insight-led acquisition and behaviour-based personalised retargeting plans to truly blossom. The opportunity for business is to acquire cheaply, and retarget with results.

The Salesforce Q2 2015 Social Benchmarks Report by @KevinkdDoyle is in. While Australia is one of the more expensive countries for social spend, increased competition for eyeballs continue the trend in driving up auction costs. There is good news however for CPC consistency and improving CTRs.

The tools are free and the time is now – strategic acquisition and remarketing programs should be a staple in your always on plan.

9. Go with the video flow

Literally. This year you’ll see more video than before. Virtual reality will have us going out of our way to see and explore more, and Oculus Rift, with added gamification, will create deep, immersive opportunities for brands to take us on a 360 degree ride.

These complex new video formats remain to establish their role in traditional marketing. When it comes to theme parks, travel and real estate however, the world’s your oyster.

8. Millennials got you down?

It wouldn’t be a trend watch if we didn’t caution you on Millennials. Enter a new way of marketing. They behave differently and want different things.

They see Tumblr as the future and SnapChat is their space. Encroaching on that space isn’t the answer, but giving them what they want and enjoy is a way of becoming part of their conversations. Millennials are likely to be the loop-closer on word of mouth, bringing us full circle from questionable online peer reviews to being truly accountable for our reputation in real life. The online and offline brand perception will merge into one thanks to this generation.

7. Is Live the new real time?

Meerkat, Periscope and Facebook Live are proving that real time broadcasting is for everyone. Facebook Live (for influencers) is already drumming up thousands of real time audience interactions and so we’ll definitely see more of live video in 2016. Innovative broadcast tactics may see simulcast broadcast of live events through social channels in the hope of capitalising on the second-screen experience (like being front stage and back stage simultaneously at the Oscars).

Learn more: Facebook Live case studies and examples.

SnapChat Story Explorer is another newbie and promises multiple angles of the same experience.

It’s hard enough getting someone’s full attention for the first run – but innovative and opportunistic moments of sharing might just be enough for audiences to come back for all sides of the story in 2016.

6. Customer service gets tipped on its head

In what is the latest and one of the most exciting additions to our trend watch, Facebook announced the release of the Messenger plugin. This is massive. The crux of it is that this is an evolution in many consumers’ preferred method of communicating with a brand. Brands have been creating new communities and new platforms hoping to take audiences somewhere new, but this is not customer first thinking.

The opportunity for brands who embrace the Messenger plugin and engage in this way with their consumers are likely to be rewarded greatly. However, many brands are still ill-equipped to deal with these growing demands in a scalable way and using Facebook’s native website just isn’t enough anymore – especially when it comes to measuring and reporting.

The year ahead is going to test marketers in their belief and investment in social. It was ‘just another channel’ for way too long and in the year ahead, the social conversation is going to be one of the most serious.

5. Mail and Female

Databases and customer profiling are vital. Data is still a conversation but data geniuses are taking care of that. Marketable data is the foundation of customer relationships. Facebook’s new Lead Generator ad tool is the perfect example of how a social platform is generating quality leads for brands.

But remember you want quality not quantity.

Smart marketers are smashing through the walls between channels. Database quality has massive implications on potential social activity. Quality, engaged database are the Alchemist’s gold.

Work hard to develop a database of people who want to hear from you. Then work even harder to retain them through contextual marketing. Only by doing this well will you collect the information you need to be able to target them effectively on social.

Go forth and build your databases.

4. You need accountable marketing

You’ve spent years getting customers to your site, and now you’ll spend a year getting the right people back. Forget about algorithms-schmalgorithms.

Accountable marketing is goal-oriented acquisition and retargeting strategies. Audience data allows us to be contextual – so think strategically about the content you create and the moments you choose to reach out to your audiences (paid or not). The quality score of content and moments is going up and effectiveness lies in how you? Plan your marketing story.

The win here will come from centralising efforts. Publishing, advertising, monitoring, response and above all reporting consolidation will be an essential new data point that will drive customer experience planning.

3. Don’t shoot the messenger

WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, SnapChat. They are staples of pop culture and becoming an integral part of how we communicate. It’s instant. It’s private. It’s group-based. It’s controlled. It’s happening and it’s one of the biggest watch outs for 2016.

We’re not implying email will go away but the opportunity to become a part of how people communicate will not only be explored, but will likely be the biggest opportunity for marketers in 2016. (See Trend #6)

2. Innovative publishing

Where tech and content strategy meet to dominate.

Adblockers are in and native is a massive focus (if it can get any bigger). Integrated publishing promises quicker and deeper engagement.

Facebook Instant Articles improves the user experience and therefore the perceived value of the content. With HTML5, instant publishing can be done from any CMS and the result is that content loads up to ten times faster and can offer a deeper, more immersive browse.

We’ll see more instant publishers come on board and following this trend, more brands will be setting up infrastructure in the hope of becoming real time publishers also. Smart marketers will be taking it a step further and implement extensive social listening to inform their content strategies and report on content success – a vital component of your innovative content creation and publishing approach.

1. Plan your marketing story

Big data was 2014 and now now the data will be put to use in writing detailed customer experience plans that are no longer digital nor traditional. They are truly omni-channel (skipping the buzzwords, your brand really needs to be everywhere). Social marketing is your new best friend and the underlying smarts in marketing automation overlaid with quality data will see some brands improve leaps and bounds.

Social analytics are massively underutilised in this space as the ?how’ hasn’t been defined enough for marketers who quite frankly, are not yet placing sufficient emphasis on their social footprint and the results. Investment in social analytics will take priority and become an integral part of the marketing program of work.

The art of defining marketing stories will be front and centre next year as the innovative use of data, social listening and creative story telling merge to deliver impact.

Social listening will pave the way for better brand, customer and user experiences all around and in 2016, social media will take a seat at the adults’ table. It’s been ranking its way through different iterations of growing up, trying to figure out who it needed to be until now. Today we are confident and happy that social media is part of the way business operates? It’s no longer an added extra.