The rise of social media has brought out brand’s creativity in innovative and engaging ways, with aesthetically pleasing products posing on the internet or individuals showcasing their personal identities. Companies have turned to content marketing and social media as powerful tools to gain more social influence and exposure. With advanced technologies and apps, social media is undoubtedly embedded in almost everyone’s’ daily life, no matter how simple or sophisticated your life may be.
In the past years, we have witnessed some significant changes from social media giants Facebook, Google, Twitter and from relative newcomers such as Snapchat and Instagram. With the inrush of even more following form, these channels are defining the media landscape, with no signs of stopping.
There is so much on the horizon in the social media world in 2018, and indeed it is poised to create an even larger scale of influence as more and more new technological advancements go mainstream, and as social norms related to social media change.
As more and more brands expand their reach with social media, the competition on these platforms is soaring and people’s attention are decreasing. Here are the top 10 social media trends to keep your eyes on in 2018.
Social Media is going mobile
More and more users are using social media on their smartphone, particularly amongst the 18-34 year old demographic. The rise of smartphone use will undeniably have a significant impact on social media usage. As a matter of fact, the majority of people are using the apps via smartphone: 94 percent monthly active users of Facebook, and 82 per cent of monthly active users on Twitter, and the list goes on. On top of these statistics, a recent mobile app report revealed that more than 78 per cent of social media activities happened on mobile devices. These numbers are also set to increase, which was made even more evident by Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet trends report that came out last May. This trend highlights the importance of having a mobile-friendly content. Having a solid social media presence not only improve a brand’s image, it also boosts its SEO rankings, which means more authority and legitimacy.
Source – Hootsuite
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A few things you could do include having images that will be displayed fully on mobile, or in recommended size. The amount of visual content shared has increased to 3 billion images and 10 billion videos between Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Whatsapp. And Video is further projects to account for 75% of mobile traffic by 2020. As images and videos are growing in importance and use, visual apps such as Instagram are poised to gain more mainstream adaptation, and visual content will become more popular across all social platforms. This growth means that video and image are becoming the more efficient way to engage with clients, which allows brands to reach audiences at a scale never been seen before outside of traditional media. In the coming year, it is expected to see more brands incorporating rich media formats such as gifs and experimenting new video functions such as live video on social media.
The Rise of Chatbot Overtook Social Media
As Facebook Messenger expanded, the number of bots in Messenger also increased – from 33,000 to more than 100,000 in less than a year.
Virtual robots or chatbots powered by artificial intelligence (AI) are transforming the ways brands interact with their customers. Brands are experimenting with chatbots to provide immediate business-related function such as customer service. Growing use of mobile messaging applications and an entire generation of mobile-native masses who are fluent with messaging as the main interaction paradigm are driving the movement of chatbots. Facebook has first introduced peer-to-peer payments into its messenger app in 2015 and then launched the chatbot API so brands can engage with clients within the Facebook Messenger app. There are also chatbots in social apps Wechat, Viber, Slack and many other channels.
Clients will engage with bots in three main ways: content consumption, customer service and transactional engagements. Although social media is already part of many of these activities between brands and clients, but social media serves as a gateway to direct clients to other channels. While now clients can receive instant response or even make purchases from one chatbot.
Moreover, the potential for chatbots does not limited to merely completing tasks you assign to it, but to personalised clients experience, which in turn increases revenue and loyalty. A recent survey found that 80 per cent of sales executives around the world are already using chabots for their brands or plan to employ them by 2020. In 2018, more brands will begin to realise the power of artificial intelligence, and will incorporate it into their social media marketing strategies.
Source – Info-graphic Now
Live Streaming Explodes
Today, brands have started using live streaming to capture the attention of followers. Social media users love to feel ‘in the moment’, and live streaming videos give them that perspective. Instead of seeing a recorded and edited clip, they demand to experience something vicariously and immediately. Live streaming also offers the opportunity to live feedback including user-contributed questions and comments, which expands the layer of users’ engagement.
Live streaming is a medium that uniquely poisoned to take advantage of technological advancements in recent years. Better video processing across the board means all mobile devices can handle more live streaming at a better quality across more platforms at the same time.
Buzzfeed is an American Intent media company that focuses on digital media and advertising. It first tried live streaming in 2016 on Facebook and despite its ridiculous premise – two employees trying to make a watermelon explode with rubber bands, it has successfully attracted more than 800,000 audiences at its peak.
It is conceivable that in 2018, brands will invest more time in connecting with clients on live streaming platforms.
Source: Your Gaming Setup
User-generated content drives reach and engagement
As mentioned before, user-generated content is becoming an important part of content marketing, with consumers forming a part of a brand’s strategy. It was found that more than 70 per cent of consumers believe user-generated content more trustworthy than generic written content. As the trend is gaining momentum in recent years, more brands such as Netflix and Starbucks are reposting user-generated content as part of their marketing strategy, especially on Instagram. It you were to study some statistics about user-generated content, it will be easy to understand why:
- Shoppers who interact with user-generated contents are 97 per cent more likely to convert with a retailer than shoppers who do not
- 56 per cent of the customers are more likely to buy a product after reading a positive customer-generated post
- Users are more likely to trust reviews and testimonials than ads
As a content marketer, you must strike the balance between showcasing your technical expertise and translating your core ideas for common readers. And lots of brands have a dedicated community that can use as an incredible source of user-generated content. User-generated content brings audiences together. It is common belief that people love to feel a part of something. Take Calvin Klein’s #MyCalvins as an example. Customers were encouraged to fill in the campaign line ‘I _ _ _ in #MyCalvins’ and post their images on social media platforms. The #MyCalvins gallery ended up swelled to 4.5 million interaction in four months between celebrity, influencer and brand-posted content, and 3.6 million new Instagram followers. Tapping into specific emotional connection can motivate your customers to buy, remain loyal and grow share-of-wallet with you. With such strong community, it serves as a powerful world-of-mouth strategy that bring the business it promoted millions of revenues and helps create a customer-oriented image.
Source: Calvin Klein
Social Media Influencers (Micro-Influencers)
In the past, the most common and fastest public relations tactic was hiring a celebrity to endorse or promote your brands, but it usually comes with an expensive price tag. In 2018, a more reasonable solution is social media influencers, who are the micro-celebrities in their own niches.
Social media influencers can have an incredible amount of reach, normally with followings in hundreds of thousands or millions. More than 49% of people suggest that they depend on influences for their buying decisions. Brands like North face and Benefit Cosmetics are shifting towards paying these social media-based influencers to promote specific products and improve interaction with existing audiences.
Over 90% of brands who used an influencer marketing strategy believe it is successful. In 2018, expect more brands to embrace micro-celebrity marketing as a way to reach audiences who tend to ignore the traditional strategies.
Shop in Instagram stories
More than 200 million people use Instagram Stories every month, and that is over 50 million more than those who use Snapchat – just nine months into its existence! At this rate, nearly half of the Instagram users will be using the Stories feature by the end of 2018. That’s why brands who want to connect with Instagram users must master the art of Instagram Stories.
Moreover, the most active Insta-brands are using Instagram Stories to increase sales by linking photos in their story directly to the product webpages. It is a great market strategy for brands who have at least 10,000 followers and a Business profile to fill your story with content. All you have to do to make your Stories post shoppable is add a URL link to your photo or video in Instagram Stories.
One way to keep your image on the screen longer is to craft your image and turn it into a video. You can even add background music or animations to make your posts stand out even more! For example, E!news have been sharing their entertainment news updates in a cohesive story by adding design elements to turn a series of photos into an eye-catching video.
Virtual Reality has become the reality
Recently, Facebook has been working on a project called Space that allows online friends to connect in virtual reality. It provides an alternative way for users to express themselves in live videos in the form of VR. Facebook is planning to scale Spaces in 2018. Many promising projects still have another year of beta testing left under their belts, but the technologies are improving in exciting ways. Given that Facebook owns Oculus, a virtual reality hardware and software company, it is very likely that it will be the first successful VR social media product at scale.
More Augmented-Reality and Face Filters
Augmented reality is about to have its biggest year yet in 2018, with some major announcements surrounding Apple ARKit and Google ARCore in recent months. The use of augmented reality on smartphone devices offers a niche and engaging way for brands to reach their audience, it’s easy and very interactive. It is the technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the reality, leading customers towards brands by gamifying real life. It also provides new target markets and present a unique chance for brands to make content more attractive. AR has evolved drastically over the past decade and that growth is only expected to continue.
For example, Snapchat has been a leader of augmented reality platform since its first rainbow-barfing filter back in 2015. While users have been tapping into Snapchat’s fun AR-powered filters for years, the technology giant has recently announced Lens Studio in December 2017, allowing everyone to create their own AR filter with a variety of desktop creative tools. The app has successfully received over one billion views in just six weeks, giving Snapchat a competitive edge over competitors in the digital landscape.
With augmented reality, users can bring their online personalities into photos and videos, while still spreading brand awareness and engaging with leads and customers.
Voice search is undoubtedly one of the most rapidly adopted technologies in recent years and it is transforming the way consumers communicate with the world around them. According to Location World, 40% of adults now use voice search once per day. And a recent survey found that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. When you ask Siri a question, you don’t get 100search results back, you get one direct answer. Marketers must adjust their content to appear as a good answer. Think less about keyword stuffing and meta tags, but a more conversational copy. Respond to natural language question with natural language answers – the way you would answer someone in person.
Welcome to 2018, the year of censored social media. The limitations of selective censorship and the urge for better regulation will soon be apparent. The goal: Transparency. Censorship has already begun, and social media may face even heavier authentication process in 2018. A recent Bloomberg article shares that Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, stated in October 2017 Facebook would hire 4,000 employees to improve the compliance of ad disclosures and identification of fake accounts creating “a new standard for transparency.” As brands increase budgets in social advertising, they are also demanding greater transparency into how that investment is performing. A new set of tools (such as Sysomos Analyze) offers unprecedented real-time insights into campaigns performance. This means that brands can now monitor where their budget is going and make business decisions accordingly. Moreover, as we learn more about how social media advertising influences politics, it seems very likely that government bodies will demand tighter regulation in the coming years.
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Powerful Social Media Marketing Statistics from 2017
- 2.80 billion global social media users in 2017, equaling 37% penetration. Source: We Are Social
- Online adults aged 18-34 are most likely follow a brand via social networking (95%). (Source: MarketingSherpa) Think about your audience and see where they are most likely to follow your brand.
- 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. (Source: Ambassador) Use social media as an effective customer service tool to increase brand engagement and win new customers.
- 2.56 billion global mobile social media users, equaling 34% penetration; globally with 1 million new active mobile social users added every day (Source: Digital Squad – Cape Town SEO Report). Make sure to optimize your mobile social media campaigns and since mobile ads are relatively cheap and easy to produce, test multiple versions to see what works the best. Users spend on average 69% of their media time on smartphones (comScore).
- 96% of the people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles. (Source: Brandwatch) Companies need to go beyond their own channels and monitor those unbranded conversations to gain valuable insights and manage brand health.
- Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. (Source: HubSpot) .
- There are now more than 50 million small businesses using Facebook Pages to connect with their customers (Source: Facebook). 4 million of those businesses pay for social media advertising on Facebook. (Source: Forbes) The social media advertising statistics show that small-sized companies should consider paying for Facebook ads in order to gain visibility and surpass competitors relatively easily.
- 78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour.(Source: Lithium) Customers are turning to social media outlets to unleash their frustration or questions. Make sure you are actively engaged on your social networks.