2018 is the year that social media will take over the world. The key to survival? Be prepared!
To stay ahead of the pack, you need to keep up with the latest social media trends such as user behaviour, new technology and consumer demands.
Below are the social media trends that are set to have a major impact this year:
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE USER EXPERIENCE
Social media users are an increasingly discerning and demanding bunch. “Winging it” will not work – messaging must be strategically planned, crafted and executed. Content should be compelling, engaging, creative and visually appealing in order to succeed, with brand consistency and exceptional quality underlying all activities.
Marketing will be more target-based, making use of not just demographic info, but factors like user lifestyle (e.g. interest in sport), media consumption habits (via mobile, on the move etc) and real-time behaviour (e.g. status change to “single”) as well. From a user perspective, content received is expected to be more relevant and personal than ever.
Improved Customer Service:
It’s do or die when it comes to customer service and responsiveness. Falling short will put a brand’s reputation at risk as users waste no time in venting their frustrations online. On the upside, excellent customer service will be rewarded by loyalty and positive public commentary by clients. Long term customer relationships and community building will also become more vital areas of focus by social media managers.
Changing social media landscape:
Platform-specific changes such as recently revised Facebook algorithms will make organic reach more difficult – meaning messages need to be even more effective and targeted. A boom in Millennials and Generation Z (those born after 1992) as part of the workforce form ever-expanding digital-based active consumer segment. Strategy plans have to evolve to meet the needs of this diverse (and somewhat challenging) market sector.
INFLUENCER MARKETING & ENDORSEMENT
2018 will see a shift towards more authentic and transparent messaging, driven by customer demands and sentiment. Influencers need to be genuine, representative of the brand and maintain a level of integrity in terms of their social media presence.
Companies that incorporate a customer reviews on their platforms will encourage positive sentiment as consumers are more likely to support, mention or endorse a brand that they view as trustworthy..
Organisations are also seeing the potential of using their employee base as a valuable resource to inspire consumer trust. Effective employee amplification techniques that help position staff as brand ambassadors, and even industry experts, help in promoting brand objectives.
DIRECT MESSAGING & CHATBOTS
Direct consumer contact:
As the need for personal interaction increases, social media is moving towards a higher volume of one-to-one client communication, with brands set to channel more resources into apps and platforms that facilitate direct interaction with consumers.
There will be a tangible increase in the use of Facebook Messenger services such as Ads (running ads directly through Facebook, thus eliminating the need to obtain email addresses for direct marketing) and Bots. Facebook in general will see a rise in business-based application including targeted paid promotions.
Until now, bots have been a “nice to have” option mainly used by larger brands. This year, however, will see a breakthrough in the mainstream use of chatbots by brands across the board. Well-setup bot automation has been shown to substantially improve business productivity, reduce costs and improve customer service.
While 2017 stats already revealed a surge in the use of videos, this year video usage will be taken to a whole new level. Compelling Live Streaming content will become an integral tool for organic reach, especially with the new Facebook News Feed algorithm set for activation in early 2018.
The Long and Short of it:
Longer format and storytelling-style videos (such as Instagram Stories) are set gain popularity this year. On the flip side, a rise in the use of ephemeral content (posts that are short-lived, such as Snapchat videos) will shake up the social media sphere by creating an urgency to view before it disappears a few hours after it is posted.
Apps and Technology:
Other video-based trends to watch out for are the use of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and in-platform apps like Facebook Watch by a growing number of businesses.
DATA & CONSUMER INSIGHT
Reporting and statistics:
A higher priority will be placed on measurable statistics such as engagement metrics and overall return on investment by marketers when assessing the business value of activities.
Focus on emotion-based information such as customer sentiment, brand health and message memorability will be more prevalent.
Techniques like social listening are growing in importance as companies are under pressure to gain a competitive edge. By leveraging off user generated content, brands can gain insight leading to improved customer service, increased user engagement and more effective marketing strategies.
Other 2018 social media trends include added integration with online purchasing (e.g. Instagram Shoppable posts), improved business-based functionality within the various platforms and an overall increase in social media users globally. It’s no wonder that brands are investing more and more resources into their social media presence.
For companies that have not yet finalised their social media budget, experts suggest that a minimum 20% – 25% of total marketing spend should be allocated to social media activities. Whether in-house or outsourced, social media is an undeniable force to be reckoned with. Make sure you harness the awesome power it offers to make it work for your brand.
Social Media 101: The social media specialists