The social networking scene changes in a similar fashion to the tech industry as a whole: rapidly and unpredictably. That is why without a clear understanding of the social media marketing landscape today it can be quite difficult to make accurate predictions of what social media users can expect in months and years to come. We continue to see new inventions and features added to existing social networks even as new social media sites emerge.
While some social sites like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter are universally recognizable, others like Tagged and Kiwibox are yet to become mainstream. For marketers, it is extremely important to keep up with the goings-on in the social media scene because, more than any other time in the past, social media marketing today is at the very heart of all marketing strategies that a 21st-century enterprise formulates. The following are the social media marketing trends that every marketer must understand to keep thriving throughout 2018:
Paid yet personalized Content
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are constantly collecting large volumes of user data and using it to modify their platforms to become a social site their users can’t do without. One of the most recent changes to this effect is Facebook’s decision to change its algorithm to suppress posts from pages as a way of encouraging its users to interact with their friends more.
The company sees this is an important part of ensuring their users are not bombarded with marketing content in an environment where they should be catching up with their friends and family. What this means is that companies may have to spend more on Facebook ads to increase their brand’s visibility even to their existing audience.
That’s not all; they will also need to customize their content to better engage with their individual followers. This trend is expected to catch on across most social networking sites. Investing in personalized paid content is presently an easy way to get your brand in front of people who are interested in your business proposition.
Increased emphasis on Video Content
Video content creation has never been easy, yet it continues to be the most powerful way to engage with your brand followers on social media. On Facebook, for instance, the engagement you get when you post videos is five times greater than what you would get using images. This trend is expected to continue well into the future.
More marketers are embracing the idea of embracing the culture of video creation and use even in ad campaigns. A high-quality, short video posted on social media is often effective in engagement and lead generation than several image posts.
Chatbots Will Make Customer Service Faster
In a world of artificial intelligence and automation, chatbots are increasingly gaining popularity as a way of streamlining customer service. Years ago, chatbots were clunky and robotic and anyone who would have used them in customer support would have lost every customer who interacts with them. Fast forward to present day and you’ll find bots that are helping customers with noteworthy success rate.
A few years back Gartner predicted that 20% of the content that business enterprises will be publishing today will be machine generated. On Messenger, there are already over 100,000 active bots helping marketers better connect with their audiences. Expect this number to rise exponentially throughout 2018.
Increased use of Stories
Just two or three years ago, the concept of “Stories” was quite foreign to most social media users. Today, most people on social networking sites know and use Stories. They are gaining popularity as more people and brands start using them. Marketers need to keenly watch this space and create strategies to consistently take advantage of Stories on both Facebook and Instagram.
After using tools like Growr to organically grow your audience on Instagram, it helps to know how you can create Stories content to keep this new audience engaged with your brand. One way to do this is by telling them about the content you have published elsewhere.
Live Content will Appeal to the Masses
Live content has captured the attention of many social media users who use the opportunity to get answers to some questions they have about the brand and the people behind it. Live content also puts a face to the brand making it more likely that followers will engage with it in the future. Marketers are also taking advantage of this feature to do live product demonstrations. People connect with you more when you are engaging with them live. It feels good to see your question addressed live on Periscope or Facebook Live. 2018 will see more marketers join this bandwagon of live content.
Influencer Marketing will Continue to Take Over
The emergence of social media brought with it influencers who became excellent brand ambassadors to their ever-growing following on social sites. Influencers leverage the loyalty of their followers to sell products from companies for a fee or a commission. Instead of spending a lot of money doing Facebook ads, you can identify an influencer who has a worthy following in your niche and collaborate with them to create content that can drive sales. This space is still not saturated. Expect more brands to reach out to influencers as part of their social media marketing strategy.
New Network Trends
The social networking space is changing. Some of the social networks that have become a part of the pop culture include Snapchat, Medium, WeChat, Cyber Dust, We heart It, Whisper and Vine. Keeping track of these emerging social media sites is important for any marketer who intends to remain relevant in this changing market. Facebook maintains the lead as the most widely used social networking platform. YouTube comes second and Instagram is third. But these emerging networks have managed to create their own space in an extremely competitive space.
The four main social media marketing trends you should expect to see in 2018 revolve around the emerging social networks, increased influencer collaboration with brands, the dominance of video content and the rise of automation. It is hard to know how this space will look like, say, a decade from now, but as it stands, Snapchat and WeChat are definitely social networks to keep your eyes on.
If you are a keen follower of the goings-on on social media, you must have noticed that most influencers today post videos. Therefore, brands must also embrace video content for a chance to compete on these platforms. With so many influencers now, the need to create innovative, mind-boggling and entertaining video content will only rise.
That means that the next time you contact an influencer, don’t be surprised if they tell you that they only accept video content. But instead of creating the content on your own and then contacting these influencers to market it to potential customers, brands will work with influencers to create content that will instantly connect with their audiences. Expect this collaboration to grow in more creative ways than we can imagine at the present.
As the artificial intelligence space grows, expect to see chatbots that can do more to solve customer issues in the customer service departments. By the end of the year, the number of brands that will be leveraging automation to streamline their customer support departments might have hit a million. As social media marketer, you must keenly follow these trends, learn what opportunities they present your business and be the first to take advantage of them.