Social media continues to thrive as one of the most important marketing tools for brands and business across the globe. As technology evolves, social media trends move with them, inviting brands to become more creative, more adaptive and more innovative with ways to entertain and engage with audiences.
Here are trends that have taken off so far in 2018 and will continue to bolster brand voice and prominence throughout the year:
Social media user numbers are still growing
In 2017, reports showed that over 2.5 billion users were on social platforms, followed by a projection of over 3 billion in 2021. The towering figure of people on social media makes it impossible to deny the reach potential and data extraction of select platforms.
Thanks to data collection systems, brands can market to niche groups on social media, advertising or showing content to those who are most likely to take an interest in brand services based on behavior, interests and demographics.
Facebook still leads social media with the most users (just over 2 billion active monthly users), but other platforms pull their weight as well, with Instagram leading the remaining platforms at 800 million active monthly users.
We’ve known social media would keep growing and continue to prove its prominence in marketing, and the reported numbers of users stand as evidence of social media’s stability. Throughout this year, brands will continue to rely on the reach of social media and ramp up social strategies. For those not regularly on platforms, a stronger presence should be adopted as a prominent part of marketing strategy.
Chatbots become customizable
According to Oracle, 80 percent of senior marketing and sales executives use or plan to use chatbots by 2020. Consumers have quickly taken to chatbots, using them to message with customer service, make payments and understand more about brand products. The accessibility, efficiency and quick adoption of chatbots present an opportunity for customer service expansion, time effectiveness and money savings.
Referral traffic and organic reach have lost their influence
Facebook’s recent algorithm change placed posts by friends and family back at the top of prioritized content, diminishing the importance of referral traffic and organic reach. As both SEO factors decrease, brands will need to reach out to influencers, family and friends to act as brand advocates and share heartfelt experiences that communicate brand character and favorability to consumers.
The video is still soaring
The last two we years saw the video as the most popular type of content, and 2018 is on track to report the same at year’s end. Video content gets most engagement than any other social media content with their ease of consumption and share-ability. Video advertising spends can be expected to increase over the course of the year, and it is worth every penny. High quality, well-produced content is essential to effectively reaching any company’s target audience and good videos are more desirable to share across the web.
Mobility continues to take over
Can anyone imagine returning to life without smartphones? I wish we could, but smartphones become more critically attached to our hands (or wrists) as they provide the link for global connectivity. Smartphones and smart devices have started to take over TVs and the majority of social media activity takes place on a smart device. So not only do websites, platforms and content need to be mobile-friendly, they need to put mobile first so that the majority of content viewers have a pleasant user experience.
Social messaging is stronger than social media
Communicating via social messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or WeChat is even more common than engaging on social media. This presents a big opportunity for brands to find ways to integrate on message apps and communicate with customers here, sending personalized messages and utilizing the platforms for customer service.
Instagram Stories picks up momentum
Instagram stories might have swiped SnapChat’s concept, but it quickly took the lead in keeping the masses up to date on daily activities and behind-the-scenes action. Stories is an opportunity to stay in mind with consumers without inundating their feed with photos and content that might be presented too quickly to make an impression. Stories is fun and interactive. It allows for live footage, for a glimpse of your brand in the making and for access to live events.
Stories make it easy for consumers to keep up with your brand development without too much investment. Over-time and with repetition, a familial bond is created between brand and consumer. Stories can also be used to direct consumers to blog posts, web content, new Instagram posts, sales, new products or events. If you aren’t already using stories, consider gifting the responsibility to a consistently witty employee and observe the rapid engagement you’re certain to receive.
Customer service is more than acceptable over social platforms; it is expected
Gone are the days of private, one-on-one customer service conversations. Exploited by sisal media, customer service interactions are often expected to be public. Social users can quickly screenshot and share customer service conversations and interactions. Negative interactions can have a rapid negative effect on a brand while positive interactions that get shared can help promote the likability of a company. It’s important to respond promptly and strategically to all customer service interactions online.
Social ads gain more value
With more users going social media platforms and algorithms evolving to change the likelihood of showing up in feeds, social media advertising becomes even more important. In order to guarantee exposure to the ideal social media audience, more brands are paying for prominent and consistent advertising placement.
Augmented reality pervades social platforms
We’ve seen puppy face filters and flower headbands take over social media selfies, but the adoption of augmented reality on social platforms will continue to evolve. Brands have an opportunity here to invite customers in for virtual brand experiences to test products and services.
Social media is essential to your marketing strategy. Work with our experts at Executive Digital to optimize your marketing creativity and achieve your brand potential