2017 was a big year for social media.
Instagram dominated over the big guns, including Facebook and Snapchat, ‘Salt Bae’ taught us all a lesson in the art of going viral, and of course… THAT Beyoncé pregnancy announcement that broke the internet.
Brands the world over utilise social media platforms as a powerful marketing tool due to the sheer global reach the platforms attain. But, falling behind in an ever-changing industry is easy. Here are FIVE social media trends you should be taking advantage of and perfecting throughout 2018!
ORGANIC INSTAGRAM STORIES
The biggest and most significant update to Instagram in recent years is the addition of Instagram Stories. Insta Stories allows users to upload ephemeral content; content that disappears for good after 24 hours. This seems to be a particularly profitable social media strategy for businesses as it prompts followers and potential consumers to take action within this short period.
Instagram stories breezed its way into the lead position for ephemeral content. Instagram became a dominating social media platform some years ago, but user engagement was taken to the next level in August of 2016 with the launch of the ‘Stories’ feature. In just over a year, Insta Stories has gained over 250 million daily users, overtaking Snapchats 173 million daily users that had been accruing over many years.
Successful social media for business has a lot to do with reaching out to users where they spend a lot of their time, and Insta Stories seems to be that place! A recent survey found that 1 in 5 organic stories produced by a brand or influencer receives one direct interaction from a viewer.
THE POWER OF THE INFLUENCER
Next up on our social media trends for 2018 is the power of the influencer and the micro-influencer. Businesses and brands regularly target big celebrities to be the face of marketing campaigns or paid social media promotion. The price tag for celebrity exposure can be quite astonishing and one that smaller brands cannot fathom… welcome the social media influencer!
Social media influencers are now a key component to a triumphant social media strategy, and this will be tenfold throughout 2018.
During 2017, traditional advertising avenues failed to strike a chord with social media users. Whereas modern-day influencer content, such as YouTube videos, Instagram stories and photos and blogging had a much more significant impact on what products and services users were investing in. Millennials and Generation Z are more influenced by social media advertising than regular sales tactics. The two generations combined make up most of the world’s population, so they should always be a target for your social media marketing strategy.
What’s more, on typical influencer platforms – including Instagram – users don’t need to leave the app to make a purchase, thanks to built-in features such as Instagram shopping. Your audience can make an instant purchase and Instagram accounts with over 10,000 followers can now also include product links in their Instagram stories.
AUGEMENTED REALITY IS ON THE RISE
Augmented reality comes in many forms, and it allows users to connect with a brand and its products on a whole new level. Business marketing strategies somewhat made use of the technology in 2017, but the high levels of user interactivity mean we should all be utilising augmented reality in 2018.
The most recognisable use of augmented reality on social media platforms today is the use of artificial intelligence lenses. ‘Face filters’ as we know, started on Snapchat and have filtered the way through to Instagram Stories and iOS and Android operating systems.
Face filters are not just something you should shrug off as a ‘bit of fun,’ they double up as a great interactive marketing tool. Snapchat allows social media advertisers to design and create a unique filter that will appear for all users for a set time. Recent examples of social media advertising through Snapchat filters include campaigns from ‘Crème Egg’ and ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.’
More complex uses of augmented reality by a business is the Dulux Visualizer app. The video visualisation allows you to select a colour from just about anywhere, and see how that colour would look live on the walls of your home thanks to augmented reality technology. Ikea also has a similar with their ‘Place’ app, where you can see precisely how a piece of furniture would look in your home.
PERFECT YOUR BRAND / CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT
Although helpful brand and consumer engagement should already be a big part of your ethos, 2018 is all about using social marketing strategies and taking it to the next level. Brands are slowly beginning to realise the impact of social media engagement and are extending the conversation with their customers on a more personal level than a sales pitch.
Past, present and potential consumers look for a platform where they can connect with you for advice or concerns. Therefore, it is imperative that you humanise your brand, initiate genuine conversation and offer your customers the best possible experience.
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat are popular networks for customer engagement due to the effectiveness of real-time features including Facebook Live or Instagram Stories. But, in 2018, you can expect instant messaging to take off and help build those strong and loyal brand-consumer relationships.
Instant messaging including Facebook Messenger, Twitter and Instagram Direct Messaging or apps such WhatsApp give customers the chance to communicate on a personal one-on-one level. Not only is this beneficial for the speed that the customers will receive their reply, but also helps businesses cut costs.
In 2018, don’t just wait for an assistance query before you engage. If somebody tags you in a photo when wearing your clothes, compliment them. If you have been told of successes of using your product, congratulate them.
A little goes a long way in customer engagement.
LIVE STREAMING AND VIDEOS
A survey found that 82 per cent of consumers prefers to watch live videos over regular social media updates and written blogs. This is expected to increase even further during 2018, meaning live streaming is not a social marketing tool you should be neglecting.
You don’t need to invest in modern technology and fancy video cameras to get involved. Facebook and Instagram support live streaming, in outstanding quality, too. As the demand for live streaming continues to surge, the technology supporting this service will keep improving. Live streams and videos are now an expectation of your brand, rather than an option.
Statics for live streaming and its positive effects on social media marketing campaigns blew up in 2017, and regular video posts outperform all other content by a country mile, so make sure you get involved in this social media trend ASAP.
Don’t get left behind.