Social media has been evolving rapidly, breaking down barriers and becoming part of the routine all over the world. It is estimated that globally, 66% of adults log on to Facebook every day. Considering that the global population sits at a hefty 7+ billion people, this is a huge opportunity that you can make use of if you’re a brand.
The path of evolution when it comes to social media has been nothing short of incredible. It had humble beginnings as a portal to connect with friends and family across the globe. Now, it’s grown into a marketing juggernaut that puts most other methods of sales to shame.
The popularity of social media has been growing exponentially and has shown no signs of letting up. Brands have been using it to good effect and have come up with several innovative strategies that they’ve used to make their mark with their audience.
So, what are developments that people should look to in the new year? Well, why don’t we find out…
1. SOCIAL MESSAGING
When people discuss social media, there always seems to be more focus on social networks than social networking. That’s pretty strange, considering that messaging apps have a much wider community of users than social networks. In fact, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber and WeChat together have more users than the big networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Over-the-top (OTT) messaging and SMS messaging are millennials’ preferred form of communication. Sixty-two percent of millennials are more loyal to brands that engage them via those channels and an estimated two billion users will be messaging through OTT apps by 2018. Why is this so? Millennials want the personal touch, transparency and collaboration that the one-on-one communication allows.
Businesses are already taking advantage of the huge audience base on social messaging platforms — on Facebook, you can click on an ad and it takes you directly to a chat window with the brand. As more brands start to realize the value of social messaging compared to regular social networks, they’ll make even more efforts to have a presence there.
2.VIDEO WINS AGAIN
Social video is everywhere. More than 50% of people in the U.S. who visit Facebook every day watch at least one video.But, the numbers are only going to get bigger. If you were to take a look at your Facebook feed right now, chances are you’ll come across a plethora of videos. For example, there’s Tasty. Nearly everyone has seen the Tasty videos on Facebook. They post enticing videos that look delicious, I’m sure we all could watch them for hours.
While not everyone will post videos quite like Tasty, we will still see companies using videos often to communicate their message. In fact, 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI. Want a real life example of this? Today Bailey’s is using this same technique for traditional marketing. What are you waiting for?
3. PLATFORM STANDARDIZATION
This has been a trend throughout 2016, however, it will only increase in 2017. Take the previous mentioned ‘Instagram Stories’ example. When Instagram offered this feature many people viewed it as copying Snapchat. We will continue to see this among many different networks. Snapchat and Instagram aren’t the only two that have experienced this in 2016… take a look:
- YouTube is testing community features that would allow creators to share text and image based posts (er, like Facebook)
- Facebook is trying to be the go-to place for news and trending stories (aka Twitter)
- Facebook is testing disappearing messages in Messenger (What? Snapchat?)
Next year, we will see a lot of this trend with every major platform. By the end of next year, it’s likely all major platforms will enable users to: create and share video content, create and share live video content and the ability to discover news and what’s going on around them based on location.
4. ORGANIC TRAFFIC GETS TOUGHER
At first, earning attention and credit in the social world was pretty straightforward. Getting Likes on Facebook and followers on Twitter is how you received attention, with no need to beg a reporter to put you in the newspaper. Now, Instagram, Facebook and other social media networks are removing chronological updates and are using algorithms to determine what they show users.
Have you seen the Facebook algorithm? Take a look…
So what does this mean for businesses? Or marketers? It will become tougher to get traffic without spending money on social ads. BUT, posting content that is relevant and holds the important aspects shown above can lead to valuable engagements.
5.AUTOMATION BECOMING MORE MAINSTREAM
Automation is already a huge part of social media. Automation helps with efficiency and accuracy, and many companies are adopting it into their strategies. Applications like SproutSocial and Hubspot are essential tools for any grownup marketer. These apps are becoming smarter and more intuitive, and the use of them will continue to grow. Take a look at this handy graphic that shows how useful automation is:
We will also begin to see many companies using automation on social networking to interact with consumers/clients. For example, Love Your Melon, a philanthropic apparel brand, uses automation on Facebook. When you place an order via their website, you get an automated Facebook message saying your order is confirmed. Then, when the package ships, you get another Facebook message with the tracking number. This is a trend that many businesses are starting to use.
6. AI AND THE RISE OF ROBOTS
The rise of AI can be attributed to the explosion of new technologies and data. AI is being used on social media networks currently, and most people don’t even recognize it! A few of these tactics are:
- Facebook tags friends in photos using facial recognition
- Learning technology of Facebook that uses suggestions, Newsfeed algorithms and trending topics
- Pinterest uses ‘robots’ to boost image recognition and search
While this is not near as advanced as AI will continue to become, it’s still there. Expect to see more of these trends in digital marketing automation tools and beyond.
So what are the implications of these trends? As marketers, you will need to let go of the tactics that are becoming outdated. We live in a fast-changing world and you will need to keep reinventing. So keep your eyes peeled, and use these to your advantage!