Social media is one of those things that is forever creating new disruptions in the digital marketing sphere. This year alone, we’ve seen mammoth changes such as native video added to LinkedIn, video cover images popping up on Facebook profiles, and the ability for Instagram users to now reply to Stories. For brands, this has meant a ton of new innovations to capitalise on in order to boost user engagement.
Come 2018, however, there will be plenty more shifts for social-savvy digital marketers to embrace. Here are the top six social media trends predicted to sweep over the digital space next year.
1. Augmented reality
It’s no secret that augmented reality is powering ahead, with Apple recently launching the iPhone 8 and iPhone X – both of which incorporate a new chip that provides users with pretty impressive AR experiences.
Up until this point, AR has more or less been constricted to the realm of mobile gaming (throwback to Pokemon Go). However, the experts over at Entrepreneur believe this kind of technology will soon infiltrate its way into social media, stating: “It’s conceivable that Snapchat or Instagram will soon support filters that allow users to take a selfie with a friend or celebrity projected via augmented reality. Similarly, brands could soon project their products into the homes of social media users through special filters.”
Imagine being able to show customers just how that new sofa will look in their lounge room by simply uploading your product photos to Facebook? If the Entrepreneur guys are right in their forecasts, the opportunities provided by social media in the near-future will be undeniably exciting for brands and users alike.
Yes, social media influencers are huge right now, with some of the savviest marketers making sweet coin thanks to external forces promoting their products or services. In fact, according to The State of Influencer Marketing 2017, 94% of marketers found influencer marketing to be effective in 2016, leading to a push for budgets to double in this area over the past 12 months.
Whilst there will most likely be continued investment in influencer marketing next year, there’s a good chance the focus will shift from mega-celebrities and public figures to micro-influencers; in other words, “individuals who work or specialise in a particular vertical and frequently share social media content about their interests”, according to Hubspot.
Unlike your typical big-scale social media influencers, this breed of content producers has a more modest number of followers (usually in the thousands or tens of thousands, as opposed to in the millions). The difference is these influencers have hyper-engaged audiences. Think of it as quality versus quantity – sure, your stuff might reach more people if you enlist the assistance of a big-shot influencer, but with micro-influencers, you have a better chance of actually tapping into users beyond a surface level.
At the crux of it, micro-influencers provide a bevy of healthy benefits compared to their traditional counterparts; namely higher engagement rates, better affordability, collection of hyper-targeted audiences and the idea that they are ‘more authentic’.
With more and more brands beginning to recognise the value of micro-influencers, it’s fair to say we can expect much more of this kind of social media activity in 2018.
3. Focus on Generation Z
Last year, we posted a blog on the need for businesses to shift their focus from millennials to Gen-Z. Indeed, this demographic wields huge buying power these days, meaning brands need to laser-focus on those 16 to 22-year-olds currently flooding the market.
According to Business Insider, Gen Zers are “hyper-connected, fluent in meme culture and armed with a competitive nature”. Adding to this, Connor Blakley, a US Gen Z thought-leader whose company specialises in youth marketing, asserts that his generation have such enormous power right now because they “are defining what’s cool” – not just for themselves, but for virtually all demographics.
So, how do you, dear business-owner, tap into this generation of highly-entrepreneurial, digitally over-connected beings? Well, you need to invest in platforms loved by Gen-Zers, such as Snapchat and Instagram, and you need to get on-board with the latest changes to grace these channels.
4. Rethinking Twitter
Twitter is slowly dying compared to its ever-thriving counterparts, having failed to significantly grow its followers this year. Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn each boast much richer growth in follower numbers, giving a good indication of where social media audiences are flocking to.
Herein, there are predictions that Twitter will potentially sell to private investors, implement some form of subscription services, or revamp its advertising options next year. Whichever direction the platform takes, it could very well be time to re-evaluate your brand’s presence on Twitter and possibly consider moving that focus to another social channel, such as Snapchat.
5. Instagram Stories
Okay, this isn’t exactly a new trend per se, but it’s certainly one that you need to climb aboard (if you haven’t already). While only a year old, Instagram Stories has already reaped in more than 200 million people – that’s 50 million more than Snapchat users. If this rate is anything to go by, nearly half of all Instagram users will be using Stories by the end of 2018.
Hence, brands should sit up and wholeheartedly embrace Instagram Stories. If you’re a bit of a noob and have no idea where to start when it comes to creating content for your Instagram Stories, the following pointers may help…
6. TV-style content
Given that video marketing is heavily on the rise, perhaps it’s no surprise that 2018 is expected to fuel the growth of mobile-optimised social TV. Hootsuite’s third annual Social Trends Report states that “in 2018, TV-style content will be king, and brands will need to consider how they can become mobile-optimised broadcasters as traditional TV viewership continues to fall.” Stats have already shown that video views tend to translate to higher engagement and conversion rates, making this type of content highly valuable for brands. Moreover, it opens up pathways for businesses to get innovative and creative with their content, paving the way for bold new social advertising formats next year.
If you’re ready and willing to integrate video into your marketing strategy, this post I previously wrote should help guide you on your merry way.
So, to sum up…
If you want to make sure your brand is up-to-date with the social media cool kids in 2018, pay heed to the following key areas:
- Watch for ways augmented reality might start appearing on social channels, and take note of how you as a business owner can use such features to your advantage;
- Rather than splurging your social media marketing budget on big-name influencers, seek out micro-influencers who operate in your niche;
- Curate social content that appeals to Gen-Z;
- Reconsider your Twitter efforts – you’re probably best off pouring this energy into another avenue;
- Make the most of Instagram Stories, coz it ain’t going anywhere;
- Try mixing up your pictures and text with video posts.