Biz Tips: The Top 8 Social Media Trends to Keep Tabs on in 2018

Biz Tips: The Top 8 Social Media Trends to Keep Tabs on in 2018

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The Top 8 Social Media Trends to Keep Tabs on in 2018

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Social media is one of the most important tools connecting humans and their ideas. What began as a trend has now become a comprehensive communication tool that can foster revolutions and even facilitate galactic communications.

In the last few years, newer innovations and technological reforms have facilitated a steady growth in the overall digital population across the globe. This growth is also reflected in the overall increase in social media usage.

By 2017, 81% of the U.S. population had a social media profile, representing a 5% growth from the previous year. Today, a majority of Americans use platforms like Facebook and YouTube — spending hours every day creating and consuming content.

Social media stat you should know: 60% of the 3.7 billion people active on social media are accessing it through their smartphones.

Consequently, marketers have flocked to social media because of endless opportunities to build a stronger brand. In fact, almost 35% of the total advertising spend is allocated to digital advertisers.

Digital advertising spend as part of overall ad spend

With even more commitment to social media advertising in 2018.

The rapid growth of social media has been fueled by trends that have spiked its usage and brought innovation. This has been done through updates to the platform/app or just figuring out new ways to use the platform itself.

If you want to stay relevant, it becomes critical to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and identify social media trends in their infancy or before they reach critical mass.

Here are the top 8 social media trends you need to keep an eye out for.

#1 Augmented Reality: An Opportunity You Can’t Miss

Microsoft Holo Lens and Google Glass are proof that big brands are taking AR seriously. Although Google Glass bombed in the market, it helped Google learn a lot about AR, which it has now implemented in its Android OS.

Snapchat popularly uses AR in its face-filters and monetizes it by allowing brands to make custom face-filters.

On the other hand, Facebook recently released AR studio — a platform with the objective to “empower creators to connect art with data to bring augmented reality into everyday life through the Facebook camera.”

Here’s what Facebook hinted at with its plan for Augmented Reality:

“One of our goals with AR Studio is to put the power of augmented reality in the hands of all creators. Over the last few months, we’ve expanded the AR Studio toolset for even more creators to build and share AR experiences with the Facebook community.

As part of AR Studio’s expanded availability, in the coming days, we will also enable world effect technology within AR Studio. Creators will soon be able to develop 3D digital objects for people to place onto surfaces and interact within their physical space.”

Augmented reality is new, and 2018 will be a landmark year for the technology as platforms build on it for enhanced social media experiences. Expect Augmented Reality to drive further innovation in social media.

#2 Chatbots: The Hottest Social Media Trend In 2018

The rise of real-time messaging has led to a tectonic shift in the way customers connect with brands.

Chatbots have helped intelligently automate conversations with hundreds of customers in real-time. Facebook Messenger went from 33,000 to 100,000 chatbots in under a year. The adoption paves the path to increased use of chatbots in 2018. Today, thousands of Facebook pages have bots enabled that drive conversations, recommend products, or solve customer queries.

iMessage, WeChat, Slack, and Viber have also deployed chatbots. Similarly, other messaging apps are in tow to bring chatbots to their platforms.

However, the rapid proliferation of chatbots does not mean that customers are ready to give up on human interactions altogether, just that when chatbots are used well they can help companies save money (up to $8 billion!) and enhance customer experiences.

#3 Instagram: The New Social Media Champion

Instagram has come a long way from its launch eight years ago. Starting as a photo-sharing app, it has matured into a social media behemoth. In fact, it is the most preferred social media network for U.S. teens, next to Snapchat.

Plus, when it comes to recognizing Instagram’s potential, brands aren’t far behind. Today, advertisers appreciate the opportunity, and it reflects in the increased spends on the platform. Instagram’s net mobile ad revenue has grown significantly over the years. In 2017, it made up 10.6% of Facebook’s total ad revenue.

Today, Instagram has kept its platform attractive to advertisers and customers with its many features, most important being Instagram Stories. It’s recommended for businesses to explore Instagram story as a storytelling and advertising format. The real winners in 2018 will be the ones who realize the immense opportunity that comes with utilizing the Stories feature.

Stories give you a way to beat the “algorithm” and give you prime real estate on one of the hottest features of Instagram.

Instagram Stories Highlights is also a great way to create a showcase for your brand, right on your Instagram homepage. This helps drive traffic and engagement to topics you care about as a business.

And Instagram isn’t stopping there. From being one of the pioneers in social commerce with their “shopping tags,” Instagram is set to up-end the retail industry! Brands and users have been frustrated due to the lack of clickable links in posts, so shopping tags offer a seamless and integrated way for brands to monetize their posts and for customers to make purchases with fewer steps.

In 2018, Instagram will continue growing and help both users and business spend more time on social media.

#4 Video: Motion Will Matter The Most

A picture is worth a thousand words; a video even more. YouTube as the 2nd largest social media platform regarding active users. Social media platforms are increasingly adapting their platforms towards video consumption.

Facebook has declared that video is king and is actively changing its news feed to promote video content. Facebook also launched “Facebook Watch” in August 2017.

“Facebook Watch offers personalized recommendations for videos to watch, as well as categorized content bundles depending on factors such as popularity and social media engagement. Facebook wants both short-form and long-form entertainment on its platform and has reported a total budget of $1 billion for content through 2018. Facebook monetizes videos through mid-roll advertising breaks, and plans to test pre-roll advertising in 2018.” Source: Facebook Watch — Wikipedia

Instagram is promoting user-generated video content with its Instagram Stories feature.

Increased and cheaper bandwidth, better cameras on smartphones, and a strong social media push are only preparing video content to overpower the media consumption.

https://medium.com/media/22d9edf7acbfe16a3ba728dabb018aeb/href

Now brands aren’t shying away from taking a social-first video marketing approach. In 2017 marketers spent 2x as much on online video than on TV ads. From a long-term perspective, videos are here to stay. The industry is already standardizing long-form digital video content for advertisers.

B2B companies are also utilizing social networks to launch a video-first strategy, with LinkedIn leading the way with the launch of videos in 2017. Most advertisers are waiting for LinkedIn to open up their videos feature to them. But this is not stopping influencers from reaching out to their professional connections using LinkedIn video.

In 2018, videos will continue to receive high amounts of traffic and engagement. No matter what size your business is, your overall growth plan should have video as part of your social media strategy.

#5 Micro-influencers: Not So Micro Anymore

Influencer marketing is nothing new to social media. It has been one of the most effective — albeit expensive if not done correctly — ways to get attention and endorsement for your product from someone who shares your target audience.

What’s surprising though is non-celebrity influencers are more likely to drive in-store purchases than celebrities, who drive only 3% purchases.

As follower numbers increase, engagement decreases. Keeping this in mind, marketers have started using a much more targeted approach towards their endorsement strategy.

Enter micro-influencer marketing.

Micro-influencers have followers who are more engaged (up to 22% more) with the content they produce, and they tend to cost much less than running an influencer campaign with a celebrity (6.7x more cost-effective).

In 2018, brands will need to build authentic relationships with micro-influencers who are invested in the brand rather than treating influencer campaigns as one-off transactions. This will help to not only create “two-way” mutually beneficial relationships but also generate more organic endorsements of the product.

#6 Live Video: Community And Conversations Come Together

Live video is now having its time in the spotlight. Facebook says that engagement on live videos is over 3x higher than on recorded videos and over 50% of marketers plan to use live videos this year.

Here are a few statistics proving the popularity of live video:

Live videos offer an unmatched level of engagement, excitement, and immediacy that recorded videos, traditional social media posts or even live TV can’t provide.

According to research by Yahoo, ads work more effectively when used in live content, driving more positive engagement.

Moreover, with online live-video, multiple users can interact and enjoy the live-stream together, creating a community of viewers that are sharing and driving conversations on social media.

Brands such as Tesla, Dunkin Donuts and Airbnb are already using live video as an effective tool for brand building. With algorithms playing against most of a platform’s organic reach, Live video consumption will help brands stand out in 2018.

#7 Paid Advertising Takes The Center Stage

Change in digital advertising spending worldwide from 2016 to 2018, by format.

TV has traditionally been the advertisers medium of choice ever since the advent of television. With the growth of social media and the varied options available to advertisers with advanced analytics, advertisers are increasingly jumping ship.

According to some analysts, 2018 will be the year of digital media, in that digital ad spend will overtake offline media and marketing expenditure for the first time. With the continued decline of TV viewership, mail, magazines and newspapers, this only makes sense.

Fun stat: Within digital advertising, mobile will rule the roost. Mobile advertising is expected to account for 75% of all digital ad spend.

Social media advertising helps brands get closer to their customer base with highly targeted ads. Moreover, the adoption has increased because social media ads are easier to measure and you can attribute sales and purchases to the point where you know which text drove more clicks in the first place.

In a recent report by Adobe, 42% of Millennials, and half of Generation Z identified social media as the most relevant channel–increasing your advertising relevancy. Compare this with a generation of TV viewers, who report that ad relevancy has declined.

In 2018, brands will develop a more focused social media strategy for paid advertising. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat regularly bring in new technology and ad products that can help a business reach the right people at the right time.

This innovation led approach towards paid advertising will continue in 2018.

#8 Social E-commerce Will Drive Growth

Social e-commerce is the ability to make a third-party purchase via a native social media experience.

This helps you to ease the customers buying process by reducing the number of steps required to complete the purchase and seamlessly integrated product discovery with product purchase on the social media platform itself.

Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest dominate the social e-commerce space with Instagram slowly gaining traction with the launch of their “shopping tags” feature we discussed earlier.

Social commerce on Twitter
Social commerce on Pinterest

Social e-commerce is expected to take off in 2018 in a big way and here are the top 4 social e-commerce trends you need to pay attention to:

1. Insta-brand yourself

Visual formats naturally work well for online purchases. Build a brand on Instagram that is not only authentic but also relatable to your core audience. Strive not just for numbers, but also engagement, as this will help with word of mouth marketing.

MVMT is one of the few digital native brands that has built its Instagram brand from the ground up.

2. Develop a micro-influencer strategy

Although they have fewer followers, those followers are highly engaged and better prepared to make a purchase. Micro-influencers usually have a community of like-minded people following them which helps spread the word about your product quickly.

3. Utilize Pinterest

Pinterest makes everything collectible, pinnable, and buyable. 87% of visitors make a purchase after seeing something they like. Pinterest’s amazing visual product discovery capabilities only adds to the platform’s social e-commerce potential.

Built for product discovery, Pinterest users conduct 2 billion searches every month to find things to buy. And Pinterest is monetizing its search to make the purchase decision even easier.

4. Customer-created Facebook ads

Using customer content in your Facebook ads not only makes them more relatable but your ads also don’t stick out like an eyesore with their sponsored post tag. Customers then become more receptive and more likely to purchase the product.

Blenders, an eyewear company, saw 2x the click-through rate and a 38% drop in cost per acquisition when they started using customer reviews in their ads. Although Facebook is the most used digital advertising platform, it is yet to be fully leveraged for its social e-commerce capabilities.

Creating content that resonates with your audience and, if possible, using customer-created content itself is an excellent way to, not only gain loyal followers but also drive purchases.

Social media trends in 2018 will redefine the way businesses build their strategy to get more ROI, develop more awareness, and drive more conversations on social media.

What are some of the social media trends in 2018 you are most excited about? How do you plan on leveraging them? I’d ❤ to hear from you!

This article was originally published at marketing.sfgate.com.

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