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.