By Sarah Curry, Associate Social Media Director
December 05, 2017
While all good marketers and social media managers must stay ever-vigilant and watchful of new trends, the turn of the calendar year provides an opportunity to take a step back and consider the trends that could shape the coming year. Here are five things we’re watching as we head into 2018.
The continued dominance of short-lived content
The battle between Snapchat and Instagram Stories has been an ongoing storyline throughout 2017, but if there is one thing we know for certain, it’s the popularity of this short-lived content among social media users. Recent statistics show Instagram Stories has surpassed more than 250 million daily active users, while Snapchat reports more than 10 billion daily video views. Although brands should be selective about which platform makes sense to reach their audience, the popularity of this content demands consideration. There are a few key advantages to this ephemeral content for brands—it’s seen as more authentic than traditional content and it creates a sense of urgency from audiences, resulting in fast action. Before diving into this trend, make sure you develop a content plan that integrates with your broader social media strategy.
A focus on storytelling
From the beginning, one of the strengths of social media has been the ability for brands to connect with their consumers to form a more authentic dialogue. This is even more crucial as trust in traditional advertising continues to erode, particularly among Millennials. This requires a renewed emphasis on storytelling from brands on social media. Consumers want content that speaks directly to them and doesn’t try to readily sell them something or tell them to take a specific action. Knowing what narrative will resonate with your audience can be achieved through a solid social media foundation that outlines a consumer persona based upon in-depth analytics and insights on your target.
Rethinking organic content
Last year, we highlighted the further decline of organic reach as one of our key trends to watch. And unfortunately, that progression continues, as news broke recently that Facebook is currently testing separate News Feeds for content from friends & family and content from brands & publishers. While the test is limited to just four countries, brands need to start planning for a future in which this may become a new reality. But that doesn’t mean that organic content no longer has a role in a brand’s social media strategy, rather it requires brands to rethink the role organic content can play. Organic content should not be considered a reach tactic, instead organic content is an engagement-builder and a way to facilitate discovery. For example, Facebook serves up several “Featured Posts” whenever a user performs a search on the platform. These posts are top-performing organic posts. If someone searches for your brand, your most recent organic posts will appear. But if they search for some other general topic, say “breakfast casserole recipes,” top-performing organic posts and videos from across Facebook will appear. Rethinking the role of organic content could open up new possibilities for brands.
Blurring the line between virtual and reality
Virtual reality and augmented reality have slowly been making their way into marketing playbooks for some time now and their adaptation rate seems to be picking up steam. In fact, Apple just announced a new augmented reality platform as part of their latest phone release. This creates new opportunities for brands on social media to incorporate these technologies into their social media channels as a way to bring the purchase decision-making process online. Using augmented reality, for example, a beauty brand could allow a consumer to try on shades of makeup before making a purchase. This could help speed up the purchase process and potentially lead to greater sales.
New channels for communicating with your consumer
Another trend highlighted in our 2017 trends piece that continues to rise in popularity is the use of chatbots and messenger applications by brands. By some estimates, up to 30 percent of our conversations could eventually be assisted by machines. Not only can chatbots help automate the customer service experience and provide 24/7 assistance, they can also have a role in the decision-making process. For instance, our prior example of a beauty-focused augmented reality application could be executed via a chatbot that offers personalized suggestions and tips to the consumer. The opportunities afforded by this new technology for brands are as limitless as your creativity.
Does the ever-changing social media landscape have you rethinking your social media approach? Stephan & Brady offers a full range of social media support, from helping you set a strategic foundation to management and content creation. We can help make sure your brand stays ahead of the curve.