Happy New Year! Now that 2017 is in the books, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to do with your business in 2018, and that includes taking a look at where your social media efforts will be aimed.
Should you grow your likes on Facebook, or should you devote most of your time to Instagram? What kind of content is going to capture followers’ attention, and what type of posts are most likely to be glossed over? Will 2018 be the year you seriously invest in social media advertising?
While we don’t have a crystal ball, we’ve scoured the web and come up with the top predictions for social media this year. If you have a good idea of what’s coming, you’ll be better able to focus your efforts on the platforms and content most likely to resonate with audiences and put you and your business on the cutting edge of social media savvy.
Prediction 1: Be Prepared to Pay
This will be the year most businesses find they are no longer able to reach their audiences organically, and marketing dollars will go toward social media advertising. Facebook recently introduced a new “Explore Feed,” which, if you think visual, is a kind of newspaper side column for company-only updates. Rather than your posts going into a user’s news feed—the one they are scrolling through and most interested in—2018 may be the year company updates don’t appear in the News Feed at all and will only be shown in the Explore Feed.
But the increase in advertising won’t be just limited to Facebook, because all social media platforms are now looking to grow monetarily, and the way to do it is by having companies foot the bill. Social media built the platforms that attracted the audience, and in order to advertise to that audience, companies will need to dedicate dollars to ads. If you’d like a head start on advertising, at least on Facebook, head on over to our post about the basics of how to market on social media’s biggest platform.
Prediction 2: Farewell to Twitter
Say goodbye to the platform as you know it. The app recently increased its tweet character limit from 140 to 280 due to reported complaints that it wasn’t easy to tweet with such limited space, especially in certain languages. The new, welcomed doubled limit allows users to say more in a single tweet, but more troubles cropped up for the app in 2017; namely, it lost the battle with Amazon to live-stream NFL games—a misfortune that briefly caused the app’s stock to fall. And with that defeat, it also lost one if its strategies to increase both followers and revenue. Compared to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, Twitter’s follower growth has stagnated. Could it be 2018 marks the year Instagram knocks Twitter off the Big Three podium? It’s possible, but what’s most likely is that we’ll see more changes from Twitter, with some speculating it will be sold to a variety of investors and its approaches to and options in advertising will be reconfigured.
Prediction 3: Video Kills the Text Star
If you’ve shied away from the camera in the hopes that video would be a fad and eventually phase out, we have bad news for you. Video is going to be the star of content in 2018—and not just social media content, either. In its forecast for 2016–2021, business IT leader Cisco believes internet video traffic will grow “fourfold” by 2021. A whopping 82 percent of internet traffic will be video. Clearly, audiences prefer video to any other type of content, and that means you need to get on board. If you’re already streaming video, you’ll want to start looking for new ways to make your videos stand out. This will be the year social media platforms race to find the next new tool, the coolest new feature, the best new way to watch videos. But don’t worry about your videos going viral because according to Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite, the number of people watching your videos doesn’t matter as much as who is actually watching. Those genuinely interested in your content and your product—aka leads who could turn into actual paying customers—are the ones you need to reach in your posts. But don’t panic. We can help you with some great ideas on what kinds of videos to make for your blog or membership site.
Prediction 4: Go Live or Go Home
Although it seems like 2017 was the year of live streaming, it’s probably more accurate to say it was the birth year of live-streaming and that 2018 is going to be the year it grows up and situates itself as a must-have in your content arsenal. Forbes social media experts are saying live streaming isn’t just a fun, cool, unique way to get clicks; it’s a social media expectation. And as with video content, if you’re scared of being in front of the camera, it’s time to buck up and throw those fears away (it could be your New Year’s resolution!).
Along with live content, its cousin, expiring content, is not only going to grow but be expected. Although this type of content started with Snap (previously Snapchat), Instagram’s Stories is leaving the once-popular app in the dust. Over 200 million Instagram users are utilizing the Stories feature, and it’s barely one year old. At this rate, 2018 will see the rise of not only Stories but also an increase in the number of new Instagram users who want to get in on the scoop that’s available for only twenty-four hours. And if Instagram is crowned one of the Big Three this year, it would behoove brands and companies to be on Instagram and start using this increasingly popular feature of the app.
Not only is live streaming not going away, there is more that could potentially happen in the virtual arena in 2018: Facebook has a new project in beta called Facebook Spaces, a virtual-reality feature that allows users to connect with friends in a whole different . . . reality.
Prediction 5: Let’s Get Personal
All this demand for video and live streaming can mean only one thing: people are craving a more personal experience amidst all the technology. After being hidden behind their screens, users are starting to want a more human-like experience and to know there’s a real person on the other end. Additionally, Google has put more focus on putting local businesses and companies as the top hits for search engine queries—and what could feel more personal than patronizing a place of business close to home?
Another way brands and companies are getting more personal is through messenger apps. Even though the respondent on the other end of the app could be a chatbot or voice assistant, messenger apps allow consumers to feel like they’re having a more personalized experience because the assistant is focused on a conversation with just them rather than on a post or announcement addressing a crowd of others.
What Do You Predict?
What do you think will happen with social media in 2018? Are there a few predictions we’ve missed? Some you’d like to share? Here’s the most important question, though: Are you ready to meet the future of social media in the right-here-and-now and get ahead of the game?