We have come a long way in our acceptance of what social media is and how to use it for commercial purposes. The first question a company must ask is which platforms are the best to transmit their value proposition to the right people.
There are over 100 social media networks to choose from, ranging from general purpose to travel, photo sharing or business networking, and it is costly and challenging to be present on more than five. This is because each network has a particular sweet spot, and most of the time, content needs to be trimmed and repurposed to fit the rationale of the medium.
However, some trends are emerging for 2018, at least on the large, general networks like Facebook and Instagram, which continue to remain the primary traffic drivers. Here are the top 10 ideas to help you stay creative next year.
1. Harness the power of live content
As visual creatures, we are most attracted to moving images. Brands are starting to capitalize on that. Live videos are more popular than ever, and this trend will continue to grow, yet this new type of media is one of the most difficult to create.
The broadcaster needs to keep it short and sweet, introducing the audience to the atmosphere of the event, remaining relaxed and natural while highlighting the main points. Keep in mind that replays are more important than initial views. Try to engage regularly in this type of activity, varying your subject, from once-in-a-lifetime events to daily behind the scenes of your company to show a human side. Don't fool yourself and broadcast without a clear plot, based just on improvisation.
2. Ephemeral content is gaining traction
Not all content is created equally, and neither will it remain relevant a few months or years from now. In the spur of the moment, though, it could be exciting or create engagement. Enter stories and "leaks," like the most recent one from Samsung. The idea behind these and the whole Snapchat platform is to generate buzz around a topic and drive people to search for further information themselves, making them more engaged.
3. Introducing augmented reality
Snapchat and Instagram filters were a way for teenagers to enhance selfies, but the underlying technology could be used by brands to transform regular customers into brand advocates, much like Facebook did with frames and filters. Just imagine if you could allow clients to play with a 3D model of your mascot or wear a realistic T-shirt with your logo.
4. Get ready for virtual reality
Augmented reality is the little sister of virtual reality, promising to be a disruptor of social media. In 2018, Facebook is launching Spaces, a virtual hangout with the promise to connect friends with Oculus. You will be able to visit Thailand with a friend or chat over coffee in Paris without stepping out your living rooms. Currently, there is no commercial VR social network, but soon the trend could expand to LinkedIn for interviews or Instagram for a virtual fitting room.
5. More infographics and shocking visual content
The visual dimension plays a huge role in social media, and the tendency is to express everything visually as much as possible. Due to a shorter attention span, brands need to be as eye-catching as possible, use infographics instead of text and sometimes create provocative images to convey the message. For example, David Michigan, a personal fitness coach portrays himself as a Spartan to build his brand, which he uses consistently across social media.
6. Use brand influencers and advocates
Most companies who have hired influencers are happy with the results. However, since this niche is totally unregulated, it is worth paying extra attention to the actual reliability of your chosen accounts. This $1 billion industry attracts a lot of scams and fake promises. Mediakix created two counterfeit influencers and even got them paid contracts in a few months just to prove how dangerous it can be for brands to trust the follower number blindly.
7. Building communities can cut costs
Due to upcoming algorithm changes announced by Facebook, branded content will require payment to reach a broad audience. To save your budget, you can harness the power of social media and use the power of sharing and communities to grow further. It is best to ask for the services of a digital marketing agency to create content that is shareworthy and fun to engage with. Don't be afraid to associate with other businesses with shared interests and enjoy growing your client base. Tag them in your posts, ask them to reshare and make a joint calendar.
8. Evergreen blogs are still hot
Great content has been a way to increase your status in social media in the last ten years, and this trend is not going anywhere, but cornerstone content is more valuable than ever. Companies need to create posts that give helpful advice and work within thinking systems, not just the latest news.
9. Engage by conversational interfaces (chatbots)
One trend that is still in its infancy but has promising perspectives is chatbots. Companies can use these to answer simple customer inquiries, elaborate on product features or offer details on availability and delivery, without having to staff their technical support departments 24/7. The applications are limitless, and the democratization of natural language processing is making this technology accessible, even for small companies.
10. Quizzes/questions remain shareable
This trend is a few years old already and has been used extensively, but clients are still curious to find out more about themselves and their friends or to share knowledge and advice. A well-built quiz app can collect more than the answers to the questions in the test. Some developers are asking people for permission to share their friend lists and other personal details to get a better result. Marketers from Unicorns recommend using this data as the base for remarketing or creating customer profiles.