Social media, like any other technology, is in a state of constant change. There is always a new feature, a new platform, or a crazy new trend to keep up with. As entrepreneurs and businesses, it's a never-ending battle to stay current and continue engaging with our followers and prospective customers in a way that resonates with them. Check out my list below for the 4 trends you can expect to drive social media in the near future. 1. Live video will continue to trump photo and text content.
Millenials surpassed Gen-Xers as the largest demographic in the American workforce sometime in early 2015. Marketing and advertising will become more and more geared toward this age group, and research has shown the millenials prefer live video and interactive content to traditional still media. This should come as no surprise, coming from the generation that grew up on reality TV and social media nativism. Millenials want real and raw content, not the finely-polished, painstakingly-researched images that have been so effective in the past.
2. Paid/sponsored content will dominate the conversation.
If you've been marketing your brand on social media for any length of time, then you're probably at least somewhat familiar with the dreaded 'algorithm.' Most notoriously used by Facebook and Instagram, the algorithms employed are used to prioritize and display a users content feed based on engagement, namely likes, comments, and shares. Users have devised many different strategies for "beating the algorithm" and beating out paid ads and sponsored posts, but the hard truth is that, for most of us, we simply don't have the reach within our own networks to compete with companies with the money to force their content to the front of the line. As social media ad revenue continues to be a billion-dollar industry (and rising), I only forsee the algorithm becoming more and more skewed to benefit paid content, and wouldn't be surprised to see Facebook and Instagram crack down on pods like they did with bots.
3. If you aren't on Instagram, you will be soon.
The percentage of U.S. companies using Instagram grew from 32.3% in 2015 to 70.7% in 2017. Businesses initially struggled to figure out how to communicate with their followers in this new way, and others weren't convinced that Instagram would be a significant player in the social media arena, but it appears to be here to stay. Instagram is outpacing both Twitter and Snapchat in new users, and doesn't show any sign of slowing down. The VAST majority of top businesses routinely use Instagram to provide behind-the-scenes content, contests and giveaways, and live or recorded video clips. If you haven't already begun using Instagram as part of your social media strategy, you should start now, before you get left in the dust. As an additional note, look for platforms to begin a more concerted push to get users to convert their profiles from personal to business accounts, probably by offering a greater range of free analytics and business tools for doing so. Conversion to a business account opens up the possibility of paying for ads, but could also lead to more difficulty gaining engagement without it, too. Convert at your own risk.
4. Instagram stories will render Snapchat obsolete, particularly for commercial use.
Snapchat hasn't taken off with business quite like other platforms have, but the on-demand geofilter feature offers a fun way to personalize the user experience and share your brand. Look for Instagram's story feature to adopt this and other popular Snapchat features, much like it did with the interactive filters that made Snapchat so popular in the first place. With the ability to add a functional hashtag and geotag to an Instagram story post, look for stories to play an increased role in the social media strategy of many top brands.
Regardless of what new features and trends the coming months bring, we can be assured that the arena of social media advertising will only get more competitive. Instagram recently moved to increase it's e-commerce functionality, and Twitter continues to play around with stickers and custom hashtag emojis in an attempt to increase personalization and engagement. Don't forget that I will be offering a social marketing boot camp next month, so if all this talk of content and engagement has your head spinning a little bit, then join us for SMART Boot Camp! In this FREE course, we'll talk about creating a profile that will draw your desired audience, creating content that will invite engagement, and methods for building a larger following. This is great for those just getting started with a serious social-media driven business or if you've been conducting business online, but looking to tune up or improve your strategy. To register, fill out this simple form. I will be in touch to welcome you and provide you with the next steps/expectations. See you there!