Let's face it, we're all guilty of spending hours staring at our screens on social media. In fact, we spend an average of 2 hours and 15 minutes on social media each day - which accounts for one-third of our time online. That's twice as much as any other online activity.
With everyone spending so much time on social media, it's become one of the most effective ways to reach and engage audiences.
This is why keeping up with the new trends in social is so important. Remember when Facebook was just a 'trend' a few years ago? Or Twitter, and Instagram? These platforms have now become an essential part of any digital marketing plan.
So try to resist your Facebook feed for just a few minutes, and take note of these social media trends we think you should keep an eye on in 2018.
1. Social Listening
Although this trend isn't completely new, it's sure to take on increased importance in 2018 and beyond. Businesses are now expected to do more than 'just' have an active presence on social platforms. You'll need to listen to what people are saying about you, your competition, your brand, and your products, and respond to them accordingly.
The most common way people express themselves these days is through social media. Complaints, praises, reviews - either way, if they're talking to or about you, they're going to expect a response from you.
According to Social Media Today, 60% of consumers that post a complaint on social media expect a response in less than 60 minutes. That means you’ve got one hour to notice and respond. If you don’t, 88% of them are unlikely to ever buy from you again or recommend your product or service to friends and family.
Hence - Social Listening.
You’re going to need systems in place to monitor any mention of your brand online. You can use Google Alerts, to easily set up email notifications for words and phrases you want to monitor.
For those of you really serious about social listening - there are multiple tools that specialise in it. For example, Brandwatch, Hootsuite Insights, Mention & ReviewTrackers are just some of the big ones out there.
They’ll help you respond quickly to complaints, manage crises, analyse your competition and ultimately understand your audience better to enhance your customer service and engagement.
2. Live Streaming & Video
Video - whether recorded or live - has quickly become the top form of content on social media. According to Hubspot, 53% of people want to see more video content from marketers. And 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.
So not only is video undeniably popular, but it works in converting those people into leads.
Viewers are known to respond positively to live video streams because of the immediacy and engagement it creates with their favourite brands.
The most popular types of video are product demos, how to’s, and testimonials. But there’s so much opportunity to do more than that. Get your creative juices flowing to stand out from the crowd - live events, product reveals, behind the scenes, Q&A sessions - the list is endless.
3. Influencer Marketing
This one has been around for a while now, but the main trend within Influence Marketing in 2018 is less focused on reaching out to those most popular at any given moment and more about building a meaningful relationship and partnership with influencers that reflect your brand ethos.
Many problems companies have been facing is partnering with influencers who they have later discovered not to be the right fit for their brand.
Take YouTuber PewDieDie for example, who landed major partnerships with Google And Disney because of major popularity. That was until he was fired from both companies after he posted objectionable and anti-semitic material. Not exactly the kind of publicity Google and Disney expected to get out of their partnership with him at all. The fact is influencer marketing works. But to avoid the mistake Google and Disney made, choose your influencers carefully.
Don’t let it be about the number of followers or fans. Focus more on their relevancy to your industry, products, and target audience. They will be an extension and reflection of your brand, so you want it to be a positive one. Once you’ve identified one, reach out and connect. Influencer marketing works best as a true partnership, so work to build a relationship with them that’s meant to last.
4. Increased Engagement on Messaging Platforms
The popularity of messaging platforms has been growing faster than ever. From Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, to WeChat - 54.5% of social media users are starting to prefer these channels over email, phone, and online chat.
And with the easy integration of both artificial intelligence and chatbots, you can automatically increase engagement and the whole customer experience.
Chatbot Messaging is on the rise, and can be more effective than traditional touch points. You can deliver messaging sequences, automate conversations, create a sales funnel, and push out announcements, resources and new content.
It allows you to communicate with your customers on their preferred channel, with ease and immediacy.
5. Instagram Stories
After being introduced in August 2016, Instagram stories have taken off like lightning.
Stealing Snapchat’s concept did wonders for the social platform. According to Kissmetrics, half of all businesses on Instagram post at least one Story each
month, and 20% of those stories generate at least one direct message.
Similar to Snapchat, the story feature allows you to post both videos and photos that disappear within 24 hours. You can add text, filters, and drawings, and even polls to ask your followers questions and opinions.>
They’ve also got a new Instagram Shopping feature that allows you to tag up to five items within an image with a clickable link to more information - helping you increase engagement as well as sales.
6. Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) is all the rage right now, allowing people to bring virtual elements into the physical world. It has especially had major influences on the gaming industry.
Take Pokemon Go for example, its huge success has now led to the same company releasing a Harry Potter: Wizards Unite game later this year.
On social media, AR allows online personalities and products to be brought into homes, photos and videos. All you need is your smartphone, so basically everyone is equipped to access the AR function.
Those Snapchat filters you love so much? They come under AR too. These let your followers and fans play with your brand and product, making it a more fun and exciting experience.
Although all of these 6 trends seem to be on the rise this year, not all of them will be a right fit for your business. Choose and test out which ones work well with you and your customers and go from there. Social media is constantly changing so to stay on top of the game, you’ll need to stay on top of the latest trends.
Want to know more about the ins and outs of social media? Check out our article on how to optimise your social content .