Social media makes it easy to connect with your customers, but keeping them engaged is becoming harder by the day. As more brands start to compete for attention across all of our social feeds, it’s crucial to stay on top of trends if you want to leave a lasting impression.

Ready to update your marketing strategy? Here are five of the biggest trends in social media we’re likely to see in 2018.

1. Influencer Advertising Will Get Even Bigger

The good news: producing high-quality photo and video content has never been easier. The bad news: all brands have the same ability and platforms to broadcast amazing content.

For that reason, /how/ you say something has become equally as important as /what/ you’re saying. Brands like MVMT Watches and Audi have shown off the true power and flexibility of social media by leveraging powerful influencers to build brand awareness in key communities.

Great content has become the standard. An effective marketing campaign isn’t about who can make the best content, everyone can do that these days — it’s about who can create the most compelling narrative.

Furthermore, your content is worthless if you aren’t getting it in front of the right audience. Influencers make it easy to reach targeted niches in a way that feels authentic and generates high engagement.

Want to launch a successful campaign on social media? Start by understanding who influences your target customers and what types of posts they’re likely to engage with. These days, people have an inherent trust in influencers — capitalizing on the way social media connects the general public with celebrities is still largely under-recognized in the marketing world.

2. Micro-Moments Will Become an Integral Part of the Customer Journey

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard of the term UX in context with a website or a digital product. But what about thinking about the UX of your business?

In a sense, the customer journey is really just one large user experience. If you want to engage users, you need to think about how they’re going to interact with your business digitally.

Social media obviously plays a huge role in your overall brand experience, so it’s important to make sure all of the relevant information is readily accessible from all of your profiles.

Google defines four different intentions in its [guide on digital micro-moments](https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/micro-moments/micro-moments-understand-new-consumer-behavior/):
* “I-want-to-know moments”
* “I-want-to-go moments”
* “I-want-to-do moments”
* “I-want-to-buy moments”

Growing your presence on social media isn’t all about posting daily and optimizing your hashtags — it’s vital to make sure your page actually provides users with whatever they’re searching for.

This means adopting a mobile-first strategy; in order to anticipate the actions your target customers are going to take, you need to understand what they’re going to be looking for.

3. Chatbots Will Dominate Customer Support

Facebook Messenger reminds us every day just how far we’ve come from the laggy support bots buried deep in the help section of a business’s website.

For younger audiences, chatbots are quickly becoming the preferred method of interacting with a business — from basic customer support requests to more complex tasks like scheduling appointments and making purchases.

With the announcement of Apple’s Business Chat for iMessage, the competition is starting to heat up. 2018 is the year of experimentation. Brands are going to start branching out from handling basic support to engage their customers in new ways.

60% of millennials already use chatbots, and over 70% would like to try a chatbot experience with a brand they already have a relationship with.

Chatbots have the capability to make brands feel uniquely personal, and with Facebook Messenger and Business Chat, the UX is often better than a traditional phone call. Conversation retention is increased significantly by the fact that users can pick up a conversation from any device, anytime they want, without having to worry about waiting on hold.

# 4. Ephemeral Content Will Continue Remain King of Engagement

After Snapchat launched stories, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t want to get left out of the ephemeral content game. Soon enough, Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp launched their own versions of stories, all following the same basic recipe as Snapchat: photo/video content viewable by your friends or followers that disappears after 24 hours.

Ephemeral content creates a sense of urgency and makes your social profiles feel more human. On top of daily feed posts, ephemeral content marketing requires a strategy all on its own.

Instagram is doubling down on stories — and for the most part, this is a sign that you need to as well. You can now access stories from almost anywhere: at the top of the feed, on every post in your feed, and now promoted in random spots while you’re scrolling.

If you’re not posting stories to maximize your reach, you’re missing out on a ton of potential engagement. Due to their ephemeral nature, they lead to extremely high conversion rates. Instagram allows accounts with over 10,000 followers to promote links using their stories — users can simply swipe up and access websites without having to leave the app.

A perfect feed might be important if you want to gain followers, but users don’t want to see “perfect” in your disappearing content. The more human and behind-the-scenes you can make your stories feel, the better.

5. Facebook Will Become Primarily Pay-to-Play

If you’re experiencing lower reach and engagement on Facebook, don’t freak out — it’s not your fault. As Facebook becomes increasingly cluttered with advertisers, organic traffic is becoming a scarce resource.

Facebook has gone as far as testing the complete removal of brands from the News Feed. Unless, of course, they want to pay a premium that is.

Facebook ads have always been great, and this is simply another measure to encourage brands to start paying Facebook to take advantage of them. While the implications are yet to surface, we’re likely going to see an increase in influencer posts, increased Facebook ad budgets, and less organic posts from brands on their pages. Along with lower overall engagement, we’re also probably going to see a decent amount of brands shift their focus solely towards Facebook’s golden child: Instagram.

In the world of blogging, Medium is the new kid on the block — and it’s crushing it. After launching in 2012, Medium has quickly generated well over 60 million monthly users, 90% of which have already graduated college.

Does the name Evan Williams ring a bell? If you’ve ever written a blog post or crafted a tweet, it should — he’s the founder of both Blogger and Twitter. After providing a way for anyone to publish long-form content on the internet through Blogger, Williams moved on to tackle the opposite end of the spectrum: giving people a platform to publish their thoughts in 140 characters or less.

Ev’s Been Around the Block Before

Blogger was great for getting your ideas out there, but as more people began to publish content on the internet, actually getting noticed became almost impossible. Blogger had no internal platform to circulate content, i.e. Twitter.

Twitter was essentially a platform built to circulate content. It was one of the first social networks that relied largely on the re-blogging of content.

As soon as celebrities caught wind of Twitter, the new micro-blogging platform based on quick updates took off. Twitter was great at personalizing celebrities and brands, but it wasn’t so great for content — it’s pretty hard to inject a ton of depth into 140 characters (now 280).

What Makes Medium so Special?

Medium combines the benefits of a social network with the ability to publish beautiful long-form content. Instead of hosting your posts on a domain only accessible trough external links, Medium gives users the ability to create profiles and publications — both discoverable by anyone using the platform.

For the first time, traffic to your company’s blog doesn’t have to come externally. Medium has its own content algorithm, and that makes it easy to grow your audience by publishing content that people enjoy. Plain and simple.

Customizable publications are the bread and butter of Medium for businesses. Like a blog, publications can feature multiple authors, sort content by category, and even display a completely customizable design.

A Custom Business Blog, but Better

Publications are free to use, and Medium allows you to customize the domain name so long as it’s preceded by medium.com (medium.com/yourpublicationname). For a fee, you can even add a custom domain — allowing businesses to match their website’s domain like a traditional blog.

Once your categories are set up and you’ve customized the design of your publication, writing is as easy (if not easier) than any other CMS. With the limitless benefits of a social network backing the platform, why wouldn’t you feature your business blog on Medium and get the benefits of both worlds?

Not to mention, adding in the social aspect to your publication makes your content feel more human and approachable than a traditional blog relegated to the back pages of a website.

With tons of updates and new features coming out all of the time, Medium is at the forefront of digital publishing. As a content marketer, hopping on new trends before they emerge is crucial if you want to set you and your brand apart.

Step 1: Optimizing Your Profile/Publication Page

Remember, your publication functions like a normal blog. Your design should be engaging, and your content should be easy to find.

If you’re trying to generate leads for a business, ideally you’ll be sending users to your publication’s homepage. Getting a custom domain that matches your brand is a great way to appear more professional.

Set aside a decent chunk of time for the design of your publication. Play around with the way posts are displayed, customize your categories, and if you have one, upload your business’s logo. Medium is super flexible — if you’re not taking advantage of it, someone else will.

Step 2: Test Different Types of Content to Find What Works Best

You’re never going to know what resonates best with your audience without trying multiple styles of writing, different topics, and changing the visual design of your posts.

Keep in mind that if you’re not interested in what you’re writing about, crafting something compelling is going to be impossible. It’s hard to truly sell a topic if you’re not passionate about it.

Readers on Medium like their posts short and sweet. Four to five minutes in length is ideal, and first-person tends to work best. As Medium is a social network at heart, users like to engage with content that feels human.

Step 3: Get Featured in the Big Publications

Start by monitoring your favorite publications and authors for a while. Take a look at which topics tend to get the highest engagement and experiment with putting your own spin on them.

If your content fits within a specific niche, identify the popular publications in your industry and get in contact with the editors. Large publications are a great way to drive targeted traffic back to the rest of the content on your profile.

Getting readers to follow your publication might be a little bit more difficult, but including a short snippet about the author with a link back to your page at the bottom of your post is a good start.

Step 4: Engage Your Audience

You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Anyone on social media knows that high engagement leads to more reach.

Blogging isn’t about crafting a monologue, it’s about creating a conversation. Always try to engage your readers with specific questions at the end of your post. Medium’s algorithm loves posts with a lot of thoughtful user responses.

You’re Not Going to Become a Star Overnight

Don’t get discouraged if your follower growth doesn’t quadruple overnight. While growing on Medium is way quicker than a traditional blog, it’s still a long game.

Your success builds on itself — the more engagement you get, the more your exposure will continue to grow.

Medium isn’t just another channel for your content marketing efforts. If you want to succeed as a writer on Medium, it’s vital to change your mindset before you get frustrated.

Medium isn’t designed to generate leads by giving your content massive reach, it’s designed to generate leads by building social proof. Stuffing your content with actionable value is key if you want to grow on Medium. You can’t fake good content.