Social media is ever-changing. It is undoubtedly one of the fastest changing industries; a lot can change in just 12 months, thanks to the evolving technologies, new apps and channels and overall market trends.
As we look into 2018 and as you (hopefully ;))begin planning for ways to strengthen your social strategy, it’s important to stay on top of the ever changing consumer behaviour and social media landscape and to keep a pulse on trends, understand and implement them.
Social Media is where your audiences already live and engage with content, which makes it a convenient platform for brands. It allows you to track and improve your efforts over time.
As our attention span is decreasing, and new generations, such as Gen Z, are becoming more valuable, it’s important to think about how you can grow a presence on the platforms that they love (e.g Instagram & Snapchat), stand out with what you do, and create “thumb-stopping” content.
Consumers are slowly building brand fatigue, as there as more business advertising on social media every day, which leads to consumers being less attentive on content and less likely to react to branded content.
To prepare for what’s to come, I put together my third annual “Social Media Trends Report“ with a sum up of the trends you need to prepare for in 2018.
TREND #1: Messaging Platforms
The evolution of direct messenger marketing
Our feeds become more crowded every single day, as a result, we are switching more to private messaging platforms to communicate with others. The more time we all spend in messaging environments, the more important it is for brands to define how they can add value in this environment.
People used to communicate with businesses via the phone, then emails, and then social media. Now, it’s social messaging. In fact, social messaging has already surpassed “public” social media networks. According to Business Insider, there are more people using the top four social messaging apps (WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, and Viber) than the top four social media apps.
Whether you want to provide an extension to your customer service or develop an always-on method for delivering brand engagement, messaging platforms are definitely worth exploring.
There are increasingly better tools to communicate via direct message, therefor these apps become the platform of choice for creative messaging — for instance think about “Instagram Direct” with rich video messages
The rise of social messaging also increased the importance of chatbots.
Facebook Messenger alone has more than 1.3 billion monthly active users and Facebook wants Messenger to the be the default chat-based customer service platform, with the capability for a chat to be carried over from Facebook to a brand’s own website.
Chatbots can be used for a wide variety of purposes such as marketing, payments, customer service, and more. They will allow businesses to automate and scale many manual processes and enjoy massive cost-savings.
TREND #2: Goodbye free reach on social
Organic reach on Facebook continuously decreased over the last years. And it is likely to fall even more now as Facebook introduced changes to its algorithm to prioritise posts from family and friends rather than Pages.
Social media ad spending is on the rise, with a yearly growth of 20%. eMarketer estimated, that in 2018 it will continually rise and predictions state, that social media ad spending will overtake newspaper ad spending by 2020. So invest in a valuable paid strategy to make your content reach your target audience in the right moments.
TREND #3: Social Search
The Evolution of Image and Hashtag Search
Historically speaking, search was always the domain of Google, who are also nowadays improving the Search Experience by making content more local and adding more context.
But increasingly also Social Media platforms become more relevant for search, as they receive a lot of data, geo-tags, behavioural insight and interest insights. With the increasing “visual search”, Social Platforms become more and more relevant.
Facebook is investing heavily in its visual search capability via AI, and also Instagram recently introduces a Hashtag Feature, which enables people to follow a particular hashtag, and collected stream of content that different people post, not just a person.
TREND #4: Rich Content
Especially video: Everyone who works in digital marketing should know by now that rich content drives the most engagement.
“Rich content” basically refers to any type of content that can facilitates user interaction, an example of rich content in a social media campaign is to run a Facebook Poll, which allows you to ask Facebook users to weigh in on a certain subject.
Compelling Storytelling Through Video: In 2017, digital video experienced its highest volume of viewers ever. Video posts have in average the highest engagement — double the level of engagement of other post types.
Storytelling in video format continues to resonate with audiences, and doesn’t show signs of stopping in 2018. While social video is effective, businesses need to make sure they’re creating content that actually reflects their business objectives. When experimenting with storytelling through video, it’s important to understand what does and doesn’t work for your brand, test different variations of video, plan long-term and have a valuable paid strategy.
Ephemeral content: Snapchat started it, Facebook copied it, now everybody does it. The latest marketing buzzword is ephemeral content, Snapchat & IG Stories or live streaming videos are examples for ephemeral content, that disappears after a short amount if time and it has proven that consumers love this kind of content because they know it won’t be around forever.
Instagram Stories: As of August last year, Instagram officially overtook rival Snapchat to be the world’s largest dedicated visual communication app. If you’re not using Instagram Stories yet, you really should be.
Live streaming will continue its explosive rise in popularity.
Live streaming statistics exploded in 2017, thanks in part to all the social platforms and other companies supporting the format. About 80 percent of consumers would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% would prefer live video to written social media updates.
But 2018 will be an even bigger year, now that both audiences and brands have settled into the format.
More mobile-ready content:
Consumers are spending quite some time using social media on their mobile devices. As such, we’ll see brands focus on creating content specifically for the small screen. Mobile-ready content should be simple.
A few things you could do: Right-sized images that will be displayed fully on mobile. Square or vertical videos (as they take up more space on screen than landscape videos).
Millennials trust User-Generated Content 50% more than other media such as company-made ads, and increasingly savvy consumers only identify with emotionally relatable marketing (much of which involves influencers).
Because we know consumers trust one another’s opinions — and I also mean “average people”, not only social influencers — I’d recommend that brands will leverage user-generated content more heavily in their social strategies.
Which bring us to the next trend…
TREND #5: Influencers, Talent & Brand Advocades
Co-Creation: Increased investment in talent vs. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has been extremely popular in 2017 and the previous years. According to a study by Twitter, 40% of people have made online purchase after seeing the same being promoted by an influencer on Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube.
Real co-creation with influencers can bring big benefits and deliver huge reach, often to audiences that are otherwise hard for brands to access.
Influencer marketing is still very new and there are still lots of insecurities and uncertainties connected to it. Sometimes, influencer marketing is done very excessive, which after a while might lead to loss of credibility within the audience.
The real value lies within building emotional marketing and creating authentic and valuable content, not just about promoting a product. In 2018, influencer marketing will continue to grow, so we need to make sure we are doing it right.
Investment in Talent:
By this point, you might have acknowledged how crucial social media is from a brand-awareness and consumer-engagement standpoint. Now, the savviest companies will hire talent who can co-create creative content to keep their audience engaged through every channel, and work with them on a long term basis, rather than just paying an influencer for a one-off post on their channels.
Consumers as contributors!
One additional sub-trend I’d like to point out is, that the interaction with consumers becomes more and more important. And so consumers are becoming contributors & influencer for a brand.
It’s not just about being a casual buyer, it’s about a sense of truly belonging to the brand’s community and playing an active role in shaping its future. A community co-creator can bring new ideas, can give real-time feedback about products and services.
TREND #6: Combine Digital and Physical Spaces with Local and personal experiences.
Partially as an extension of the brand fatigue, 2018 will be a year for more local and personal experiences. In 2018, digital marketers must focus on understanding how they can better weave digital into offline experiences.
With the amount of content we have to cut through, we have to find ways to break through the noise. A powerful way to do so is “Experiential Marketing”.
If your brand struggles to capture the attention of your target audience, then consider investing in experiential to create a more emotional brand experience. After all, emotion drives 90% of purchase decisions. As a digital marketer, we’re building on these emotional experiences and ensuring they’re shareable through digital.
Here’s an example: we created a Summer Party for Bacardi, and a Secret Brinner in collaboration with some food & drinks brands, to make the customers try their own cocktail mixes and get to know the product, brands and find their personal favourite.
TREND #7: Augmented Reality Gets Real
And then there’s augmented reality, which connects digital and “real” space.
Augmented reality is not new, but it got a big boost from social media recently. Snapchat AR became street level, Facebook introduced AR to the masses, Google AR stickers are rolling out to Pixels and Apple: bringing AR to its the latest iOS — it’s only a matter of time until AR really takes off on social.
Brands can now project their products using special filters directly into the homes of users (e.g. Ikea’s AR kit), and considering the growing popularity of these filters, we can expect some major expand of the concept in 2018.
Social media being such a popular form of marketing, it’s not enough to simply post your stuff and hope for the best. You need a strategy and plan, and make sure to think about what your customers want in order to engage them. Brands need to make better, more independently verifiable sources and make use of the new opportunities and trends.
In 2018, a lot of changes are expected in the social media landscape. As a brand or marketer, it’s important to integrate these changes fast and leverage them in your digital marketing campaigns. However, you don’t need to and should not incorporate all of these social media trends. Combine a few of these trends with your existing marketing strategy to create a memorable brand presence across the popular and most relevant social media platforms.
Social media presents very exciting opportunities for creating content to build meaningful relationships with consumers, and I look forward to seeing how things continue to evolve as we head into 2018.
Sources for this sum up:
Read more at https://www.business2community.com/social-media/future-social-media-32-experts-share-2018-predictions-01973207
https://wearesocial.com/blog/2018/01/socials-trends-watch-2018Looking ahead to social media trends for 2018, category watchers point to continuing disruption. Here we offer a glance…thevitaminsee.com