Social media is constantly changing—new platforms, new media capabilities—in short, with new ways to connect via technology. So we were curious—is social media changing so rapidly the predicted social media trends we shared in January are no longer applicable? We hit the web on a quest to see what trends we predicted correctly and if there are any new trends you need to be aware of to make the most of your social media marketing.
So who were the predicted big players in January? Let’s take a peek back at what was reportedly going to rule the social media world. Here’s what we said:
- Visuals. Not just any visuals, mind you—video. And even one step further—not the boring old recorded video you can post and hope it has an impact, even though it’s all of half an hour old. Live video is what is going to rock the platforms. Why? Well, as social media is an actual virtual reality (yes, that does sound like an oxymoron, but in this case it’s not), users want to experience events vicariously and to be in the moment. So much for after-the-fact videos (you may as well stack those in with your VHS and filmstrips). Live video is the way to go.
- Expiring Content. Not only is live the way to go, but content that is only available for short periods of time is topping the charts across the social media cyberwaves. Content that expires—such as Instagram stories, where photos or video posted can only be viewed for twenty-four hours and then is gone into the cyber abyss—creates a sense of urgency because it will soon be gone—forever! Why is expiring content all the rage? Well, the trend seems to be that social media users are concentrating on platforms that give them more in-depth, true-to-life content. A post that is live and can’t be seen again? That’s virtual reality.
- Social Media Is Social—and it will remain that way. The prediction is that although social media is a virtual reality, users want to have a more personal experience with those they follow, hence live content and content with a time limit are becoming increasingly popular. Social media trends will continually gravitate toward “live” and “real” in that there will be a concerted effort to post more content that requires timely—and more—interaction and engagement.
- Quality over Quantity. Speaking of content, the idea that a lot of content is better has never been less true. One top-notch piece of content will garner more followers than ten (or more) subpar pieces because users are looking to be emotionally, visually, and artistically drawn in and connected to your content by an internal response they have when viewing and reading your posts. There is a . . . well, trend in these trends. Social media is social!
- Influencer Marketing. One of the best ways to increase your followers and fan base is to reach out to those who already have a lot of social media influence. When you establish a good relationship with these folks, they’ll be more apt to share your posts and promote your brand.
- Paid Advertising. Organic visibility is no longer the way to be seen on social media. Experts are saying that the platform’s sponsored or paid advertisements are the best way to reach the biggest audience.
- Optimize for Mobile. Research shows that more and more users are turning to their mobile devices to access everything on the web from retail shops to social media. While this isn’t directly a social media trend, it is an indirect one in that users may find your business through social media via their mobile devices, so your website should be a breeze to read on a mobile device.
Did all of these predictions stand the test of time? They did indeed. While we said “visuals,” we could have focused on just “videos.” With the advent of Snapchat as a video-only platform and Instagram having quickly picked up on the idea, video continues to be the most popular form of content. In fact, Facebook executives have been quoted as saying that Facebook will become a video-only platform.
And as for those videos with a short lifespan? Content that expires will continue to rise in popularity. One study done by Snapchat showed that expiring content is more engaging because users engage now rather than view content, intend on engaging or commenting later, then subsequently forget about it. It’s more like real life—if you don’t seize the day, you may never see it again.
The fact that users are more drawn to live content shows that social media is and will remain a social place because users want to engage and feel involved. Additionally, a trend we didn’t list but that is building in popularity is social messaging, and not just between friends. Facebook released Messenger Conversation, which allows conversations to be started from a Facebook ad—so you’d better believe that paid advertising is going to grow! And, of course, quality ads—and quality content—are always more effective than a dozen ads that don’t speak to your followers. If you’re worried about social messaging and your personnel capability—whether in time or skill—you can always look into chatbots, which are robots that interact with your followers via the messaging app. And, yes, users will most likely be accessing the app—and any social media network—from their mobile device. It is being predicted by eMarketer that more than half of all Facebook users—59 percent—will access the app only through their mobile device. And will the users who see your ads and content be from organic traffic? Probably not. Social networks use algorithms to show users the content most relevant to them. That’s why businesses are paying for ads and connecting with social media influencers, those gurus of social media who are active, have large followings, and can promote your brand.
In all this talk about visual, live, and expiring content, one platform stands out among the rest. If you guessed Instagram, fist bump. You’re right. Although Snapchat started the live video and expiring-content phenomena, Instagram has considerably more users (600 million versus 158 million). It’s also important to note that Facebook (the biggest social media player in the field) acquired Instagram in 2012, and while Instagram remains its own independent product, it does have access to Facebook’s advertising tools and design and engineering. So if you’re overwhelmed by all the social media platforms out there, stick with the biggest players because they’re going to pave the way in future social media trends.
So tell us—are you using these different social media tools in 2017? Do you have any predictions for the rest of the year or for 2018? We want to know! Share with us in the comments below.