Are you armed and ready to take what you’ve learned from 2016 and totally rock your social media marketing goals this year?
If your answer isn’t a 100% yes… then keep reading.
We experienced many big changes in social media marketing over the past year from a drop in organic reach to virtual reality showing up on the scene. To keep you in the loop, we’ve rounded up 5 of the most important social media marketing trends you should know about. Read on to find out what they are, why they matter, and tips on them from industry experts.
1. Trending Social Media Platforms
First things first, what social media platforms should you be focusing on in 2017?
We all know Facebook is the biggest player but how do the others stack up? By looking at these charts from DreamGrow, you’ll see that the top 4 websites are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and then Twitter, while the leading apps are Messenger, WhatsApp, QQ Chat, and We Chat.
Popularity certainly matters when choosing which platforms to engage with, but there are other factors at play such as the features offered and user demographics. We asked Jason Falls, Chief Instigator at the Conversation Research Institute, for some input on where to focus and he shared the following advice:
“Facebook is becoming the core social ecosystem for most Americans and North Americans. It will continue to be so because it’s always stuck to its core strategy – to be a social utility. But I’d also pay attention to the growth and opportunities on Instagram and Snapchat. And don’t forget about good old trusty LinkedIn!”
So while making a presence on Facebook is “price of entry” in the social media world, also consider how the other up-and-coming sites can work to your advantage. Social Media Strategist Eric Tung also made a great point when asked about where brands should be in 2017. He answered,
“(The social media platforms you should be using in 2017) still depend on your target market. B2B enterprise software? Try LinkedIn rather than Snapchat. Restaurant? Maybe try something visual like Instagram. Not all platforms work for all brands, and companies need to realize that 1 buyer will always be better than 1000 qualified leads, and 1 qualified lead will always be better than 1000 unqualified leads.”
Very true, it’s important to identify your target audience and which platform they are using most. For a deeper look at the demographics of each social media platform, check out these reports from the Pew Research Center.
Once you know exactly where to focus your social media efforts, you should find a tool that helps you streamline posts and scheduling.
Want to save time searching? Check out SociHub, a brand new social media management tool that integrates with ALL of the top platforms. From content curation, to one-click-posts and built-in analytics, you’ll be on top of your social media game in no time!
Now that you have insight on key platforms and the best social media tool for 2017, let’s take a closer look at trends in video.
You probably saw this coming. All of our social media feeds are filled with video and it now consumes 1/3 of all online activity. In the coming year, it is only going to increase (as you can see in this infographic from Statista). Data traffic is steadily growing and video is a huge part of the reason why.
However, video isn’t just popular. It also drives the results brands want including increasing click-through rates, conversions, brand awareness, engagement, and trust. There’s really no question whether or not we should be integrating video into marketing, the question is how.
Here are a few types of videos really resonating with viewers right now.
The 360-video format showed up on the scene this year and is now available on Facebook and Twitter. It allows for the viewer to be more immersed in content and has shown to increase both video views and videos watched to completion. Consider the aspects of your business that you could showcase using this feature. Here are some ideas to get your wheels turning.
Next up is live streaming. This year we saw live streaming platforms like Periscope and Meerkat gaining traction, while Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter all launched live streaming features. Facebook even paid media companies $50 million to produce live videos on their platform. This is sure to be a trend that continues into 2017 and these experts agree,
“Users will watch streaming video 300% longer than recorded video. 2017 will be the year that brands recognize that streaming video offers them a connection with users without the production costs associated with scripting, storyboarding, filming, and editing. Although it may not be for every brand, we will see more streaming video use in 2017”- Eric T. Tung, Social Media Strategist
It’s a win-win! Brands can engage their audiences and cut on production costs. Jason Falls further expanded on the benefits, highlighting an important point on increasing visibility.
“Video is going to be increasingly important as it not only stands out as signal in the sea of noise that is social content, but live video in particular is being prioritized by Facebook. So the more a brand invests in video and even the occasional live broadcast via Facebook, the more it can enhance its exposure and chances of getting its message heard.” –Jason Falls, Chief Instigator, Conversation Research Institute.
So if you want to engage your audience more effectively, save on production costs, and increase visibility on social media platforms, it’s time to put live video into your strategy. Research live videos from other brands for inspiration, brainstorm video ideas that will interest your audience, schedule them, and integrate live video into your content schedule.
Last but not least of the video trends is temporary content. Snapchat and Instagram use this tactic to create a sense of urgency with their videos. The proof that it works is in Snapchat’s numbers. Their videos have increased by 400% in the past year and daily views grew from 2 billion to 10 billion. Now Instagram has adopted Snapchat’s feature with their highly engaged audience, and there is a huge opportunity for brands on both platforms. Jimmy Kim, CEO here at Snaptactix chimed in on this, pointing out how important these platforms will be for 2017.
“Stories by both Snapchat and more importantly Instagram (will make the biggest impact on social media marketing in the coming year) – these quick 24- hour based 6 -10 second stories are going to take over the world. People want to know what we’re doing in our business or brand – and it’s important to keep the doors open and share those events with the world.”
If your audience is on Instagram or Snapchat, integrate temporary videos into your posts this year. You can use stories or snaps to make announcements, offer promotions, reveal new products, give behind-the-scenes looks, or any other creative ideas you come up with. Here’s some inspiration.
With 360 video, live streaming, and temporary content, you have the big video trends for the year. Next, we’ll get into another developing technology, A.I.!
3. Artificial Intelligence
A.I. made a big appearance on social media this year with the release of bots for Facebook Messenger. These bots perform functions within Messenger that can help to improve the user experience, and just 2 months after launching, Facebook VP of messaging products reported 11,000 bots have been added!
What is the purpose of these bots? As Bianca Illion from Brandwatch said,
“A number of platforms are introducing integrated bots to assist with shopping, booking and customer service. As consumers become more accustomed to talking to bots, the use of artificial intelligence will increase, allowing brands to optimize their customer service experience.”
These have the potential to be used by brands to manage their social media presence, respond to comments, build networks, find shareable content, handle customer service issues, and even sell.
Is 2017 the year for your company to invest in AI or something like Facebook’s chatbots? For an expert’s take, Jason Falls put it well when he said,
“Chatbots are going to help revolutionize help desk and customer service functionality. They can even be used as a front-line sales function. The smarter the system or bot, the more effective they’ll be and with machine learning, that means they’ll be more and more useful. But we can’t automate everything and brands need to be cognizant of the fact that completely removing human interaction from the customer experience will backfire. Bots are cool, but only to an extent. Finding that drop off point for your brand will be a critical line to draw in 2017.”
In summary, be open to the technology, experiment with how you can use it, but don’t leave your customers without the human interaction they need. Learn more about bots and how brands can use them here.
Along with A.I., virtual reality made some huge waves this year which brings us to trend 4.
4. Virtual Reality
What an exciting year it was for VR and AR too! We saw augmented reality’s potential in Pokemon GO and we now have 360 video which can be watched through the Oculus VR headset. Note that Facebook acquired Oculus back in 2014, and Mark Zuckerberg said of the technology,
“This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”
This year, Zuckerburg finally revealed his plans at the Oculus Connect Conference for how Facebook is going to make VR social.
Brands will have the opportunity to create branded experiences for customers with the social hangout spot being created. The goal is to allow people to create digital versions of themselves so they can interact with others from anywhere in the world. When in a VR live chat, participants will have avatars which can show different emotions and gestures. The location of the virtual chat can be changed to an environment like an office, a home, or even underwater. They also showed different interactions that are possible like playing cards or chess, fencing, watching videos, listening to music, and being able to draw and play with creations. Brands could potentially host virtual events, how-to tutorials, contests, and more. Oculus social product team leader said,
“This is the first time tech has made this level of social presence possible.”
It is still early in the push toward VR on social media, but the possibilities for brands to interact are mind boggling. While many will not be ready to get involved right away, it will be wise to keep an eye on the developing trend and brainstorm the virtual reality experiences you could create for your audience in the future. With Facebook owning Oculus, it’s really only a matter of time.
Now for our last trend, we are going to switch gears and talk about what happened to organic reach on Facebook over the past year.
Spoiler alert: It wasn’t good!
5. Challenges with Organic Reach
2016 was the year we saw organic reach plummet. Facebook has used an algorithm for years to decide which content users are most likely to want to see in their news feeds. This year, we saw Twitter and Instagram both adopt algorithms as well. While this can be helpful in growing a community of people which can be marketed to, it can also make it harder to actually reach them.
Facebook openly admits their organic reach is dropping significantly (SocialFlow reports a 42% drop this year!). The platform claims it is due to both an increase in the amount of content being posted and the change to the algorithm which prioritizes posts from friends and family members in news feeds. Now organic reach for a Facebook page post has been reported to average around as low as 2%. Ouch!
As a marketer, there are two things you can do to reach your audience as Facebook and other platforms reduce your organic reach.
Use Paid Advertising to Increase Your Reach
Each of the platforms has their own paid advertising set-up which you can utilize to expand your reach. Facebook is by far the most utilized, followed by LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, then Instagram.
Here’s a look at the ROI of the different platforms according to eMarketer.
Facebook again offers the largest returns, followed by Twitter, Instagram, and then LinkedIn. So by creating engaging content and paying, you can still reach your audience and get significant returns back.
Create Really Awesome Content that Users Engage With
As for creating high-quality content, there are a few tricks to the trade. Of course, it is about knowing your audience and delivering what they want to see. Jimmy here at Snaptactix says “the key is in staying relevant, keeping consistent, and providing value.” While Jason Falls from the Conversation Research Institute answers “The best way to stand out is to have what I call “Holy Smokes” content. You have to create content that is relevant to your audience and makes them say, “Holy Smokes! That’s (insert adjective here)!” The more you create that emotional connection with your content, the more your content will emerge as signal.”
Here are a few tips to keep in mind
- GIFs are also popular with Tumblr seeing 23 million posted everyday, and Facebook seeing 5 million. Use Viffy to make your own and catch your viewers eye.
- Use Emojis-these little images make a BIG difference in social media engagement. Scientists even found that when we see them our brains are activated in the same way as when we see a real face! How does this impact marketing efforts? Emojis increase likes on Facebook posts by 57%, Facebook comments and shares by 33%, and engagement on Twitter by 25%!
- Track what customers like and engage with and give them more.
- Use storytelling to engage your customers logically and emotionally. This engages attention, makes your content more memorable, and drives more action.
For a look into social media marketing campaigns that killed it last year, check out these examples.
And there you have 5 of the most important trends for 2017!
Prepare for Social Media Success in 2017
Now you are “in the know” with the top trends that are affecting social media marketing right now. Use these insights to help you plan an effective strategy for the coming year and to use social media to it’s fullest marketing potential.
A few key takeaways to keep in mind as we wrap up:
- Video is going to continue to be hugely impactful. Integrate authentic videos that show who your company is behind-the-scenes using live streaming video and temporary posting options.
- Plan how you can incorporate new technology innovations into your social media strategy including 360 video, virtual reality, and bots.
- Include paid social media marketing in your strategy using a tool like SociHub to integrate with the platforms that remost relevant and profitable to your brand.
- Focus on creating stand out content amongst the social media noise.
That’s all folks for this post on social media! Thank you to the social media experts who shared their insights. Furthermore, best of luck to you marketers with your strategy in 2017.
Do you have any questions or comments? Let us know in the section below.
To unwind after hours of writing code or perfecting a design, Natalie likes to go out swing dancing or stay home alone and solve jigsaw puzzles.
Also published on Medium.