Top 5 Social media Trends for 2018: Social Media is only becoming more important in marketing and business, but it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends if you want to get the most use out of it. I’ve put together a list of five big trends that you can expect to see emerging that will change Social Media in 2018.
The New Facebook Feed 2018
Facebook recently announced that it would be changing its algorithms to bring it back to its original goal of being a social tool rather than a marketing one. While this does present an additional challenge for businesses attempting to reach their audience via the platform, it doesn’t mean that it’s no longer a valuable asset for businesses. It does, however, call for a new approach to social media marketing.
Facebook Ads and boosted posts have long been important tools for marketers, and they’re expected to become even more so in 2018. With additional hurdles to appearing in your followers’ timelines organically, you may find that paid posts become less of a luxury and more of a necessity. Of course, there will still be ways to increase your organic reach, but it will require a different approach.
With the new algorithm comes new values, and Facebook is now putting engagement at the top of the list. Posts that start discussions and get consumers to interact are more likely to appear in news feeds, and that will help to increase your authority as a brand and as a poster. Try and find ways to encourage interaction with your posts, whether that means asking questions, giving your audience incentives to like and share, or starting conversations that people will want to join in on.
These changes don’t mean that you won’t be able to sell on Facebook anymore, but it does mean that you’ll have to reconsider the way you do it. Buzzwords that before made your posts easier to categorize are now likely to push you further down the rankings, with things like “buy”, “get it” and “shop now” set to be kicked out of the social-media dictionary as we move into the future.
Use of Messaging Apps
The same spirit of engagement and interaction over straight advertising that’s appearing in marketing looks set to move on even further when it comes to customer service. It’s expected that in 2018, brands will up their use of messaging apps as a way to reach their customers with a more personal approach. It ties into the increased trend of personalization that we’re seeing across a range of different industries, as it makes the customer feel like they’re engaging in one-on-one conversations rather than seeing a mass post.
Social media sites are picking up on this demand from marketers to be able to contact their consumers, and the tools available for the purpose are evolving rapidly – and they look set to stretch even further in 2018. The ability to customize your chatbot has become an important tool when it comes to providing quality customer service, as has being able to reach out on previously unexplored channels. WhatsApp and WeChat, which up until now have largely been thought of as exclusively for conversations with family and friends, look set to become important channel for brands to use to connect with their customers. Similarly, Facebook Messenger is opening up its operations so that brands can utilize it to their advantage.
While these all mark new developments in terms of technology, the idea harks back to the days of direct mailing – or even to the times when face-to-face customer service was a much more prominent phenomenon. It allows customers to feel more connected with the brands they’re buying from and engenders trust in the service they’re receiving, and it’s also useful for the brand who can access customers directly.
I’ve mentioned in earlier posts about content marketing that video is on the rise, and this is in large part because of the influence in social media. As more and more platforms have shifted over to visuals, consumers are becoming used to receiving their information in this format and even told Livestream that around 82% of them prefer live video to written social posts. In fact, the IT and networking company Cisco have predicted that by 2019, video will account for around 80% of consumer internet traffic.
Often, when we talk about live video we talk about Facebook – which is undoubtedly an important platform, but it’s worth remembering that stories on Instagram and Snapchat are also on the rise and are becoming important tools in any social media marketer’s arsenal. The additional time pressure that’s provided with Snapchat’s disappearing stories can be a particularly effective way of driving sales and of providing a feeling of exclusivity. Because your story won’t last for long, those who have caught it feel like they’re ahead of the game – especially if it includes any kind of offer or sneak peek.
Videos on Facebook have long been a popular feature and have been shown to be more likely to appear on timelines than other forms of content. Live video is the subgroup of videos that’s the most likely to see engagement and which is expected to particularly boom in 2018. It allows your audience to experience a moment with you and can help build your brand image, transparency and trust with your audience and can also be a great tool for events such as product launches or sale countdowns.
Social Media Influencers
As I mentioned in an earlier post, many consumers have said that they’d be more likely to trust a product that was recommended to them by a person than by a brand – even if they didn’t know the person. This feedback has clearly been taken on board by brands, who have upped their usage of social media influencers when it comes to marketing. Influencers are normal people who have a big following on one or multiple platforms, and who will often create custom content that helps drive traffic towards your brand. It’s a less aggressive marketing technique which fits in with the recent shift towards engagement over revenue, and it comes with a ready-made audience that have trust and interest in your chosen influencer.
Of course, as with any marketing technique, there are the naysayers who don’t agree with the trend. A recent online spat between a hotel and a YouTuber showed that some brands prefer to stick to their traditional techniques, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that these companies are in the minority. Vloggers and Instagrammers are particularly popular among marketers.
When it comes to choosing your influencers, one of the most important factors to consider is the audience that they’ll reach. Make sure it’s compatible with your target audience and that they’re well placed to offer genuine recommendations when it comes to your brand. It’s also worth checking whether their audience is engaged and, of course, genuine. While it’s obviously considered poor practice, there are influencers who purchase their followers in order to make their numbers look more impressive. Bought followers are typically low value to you, but they can often be spotted by checking out engagement rates and comparing audience following to content quality and regularity.
The Use of AR, VR and AI
The future has definitely arrived, and 2018 looks set to live up to many of the sci-fi imaginings of years gone by with increased use of augmented and virtual reality technology, as well as artificial intelligence. These have long been in the works and have seen instances of use in marketing over previous years, but it’s expected to rise significantly in the coming year. In fact, the Consumer Technology Association have predicted that VR will generate 18% more revenue this year, and that the units themselves will see a 25% increase in sales.
Snapchat has been one of the earliest adopters of AR technology in social media with its famous lens filters – which has proven a huge hit among users. Few news feeds are without a picture accented with a flower crown or animal ears these days, and this technology is expected to spread even further. By allowing customers to, for example, see themselves wearing or holding a product, or place a product within their home, brands have the ability to personalize each purchase and help consumers become more attached to their products.
Another significant development in the technology realm is artificial intelligence, and the way it can be used in social media marketing. As mentioned earlier, the use of chatbots is becoming increasingly more significant, and brands are now able to customize their responses. With upcoming generations more familiar with this form of customer service than any other, it’s becoming increasingly vital that brands perfect their platform.
What social media updates are you predicting for 2018, and how will they affect the way you do business? Let me know in the comments below.
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