5 Social Media Trends to Watch This Year

Social media continues to dominate marketing as brands seek new and better ways to connect with their audiences. As competition increases, attention spans shrink and social apps evolve, it’s imperative to get your message across as quickly and effectively as possible – where and how your audiences want them. Which is why we’ve identified five key social media trends to help you do it.

1. Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories use SnapChat’s original model in which users create short video and photo montages that disappear after 24 hours. This capability has seen rapid growth since its induction in 2016, becoming one of the most popular ways to share social media content.

The increased popularity of Instagram Stories has led Instagram users to spend an additional 7-10 minutes on the app per day while creating new advertising opportunities for businesses (one-third of the most popular stories have been produced by brands).

Look at how J.Crew used Instagram Stories to offer followers an exclusive opportunity to get their Jane in Pink sunglasses before they went on sale to the public. Only 50 pairs were available during the pre-sale, which combined with the limited-time format to drive a strong sense of urgency, selling out in only six hours.

j crew jane pink instagram story - social media trends

2. Influencer Marketing

Influencers are defined as people with a large following on one or more major social media platforms, making them an especially desirable partner for brands. Some influencers are well-known actors and athletes, but some are simply popular within their social media platform of choice (think YouTube and Instagram stars).

The principle here isn’t new. Celebrity endorsements are almost as old as advertising itself, connecting public affection for a person to a brand’s products or services. According to Forbes, people follow influencers more than they watch television or read content. This swift rise in influencer marketing can be connected to a rise in influencers with specific niche followings (i.e., beauty, fashion, travel, food, etc.). These influencers carry an aura of independence, which enables their brand endorsements to appear more authentic.

3. Live Streaming/Social TV

Last year, we saw live streaming take a huge jump forward with Insta Live and Facebook Live offering users the ability to live stream videos – to great effect. Live videos on Facebook receive nearly double engagement compared to videos shared on YouTube and Instagram, and they have a significantly higher organic reach. Facebook also reports that users watch live videos three times longer than non-live video.

The benefit of live streaming is similar to that of reality TV. Even when the content is planned or scripted in advance, the real-time format makes users feel more authentically connected to the brand.

BuzzFeed, a brand known for its fun, quirky viral videos, used Facebook Live to show two team members attempting to break a watermelon with rubber bands. The idea may seem silly, but toward the end of the 45-minute live video, Buzzfeed announced that 725,000 people were watching. And the momentum continued; to date, the video has attracted more than 11 million views.


4. Chatbots

Chatbots are not new to the Internet or social media, but they are getting smarter in how they respond to queries. As a result, they can provide a sense of instant connection with customers as they help people with a variety of things – from resolving service issues to ordering pizza.

As chat bots become smarter and more human-like, brands are using the data and technology to customize their brand voice to send personalized messages to customers. In January, Facebook reported that 20 million businesses message with people every month.

Check out how the Golden State Warriors used a chatbot to deliver immediate stats for the 2017 Playoffs, resulting in an exchange of 4.3 million messages in the first 2 months.

Facebook Chatbot GS Warriors social media trends
To no one’s surprise, millennials have been the quickest adopters of chatbots, with nearly 60% having used them. This year, we expect to see even more businesses use chatbots to build awareness, drive customer acquisition, increase transactions and provide customer care.

5. Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is when a mobile device superimposes computer-generated images on a user’s view of the real world. This capability is clever, quick, highly interactive – and on the rise. With Apple’s iPhone 8 and iPhone X both enabling AR functionality, it’s likely that more brands will integrate it into their campaigns this year.

Ikea has already released an AR app that enables iOS users to preview furniture in their homes. It’s an ingenious way to increase conversions by showing customers how their products will look in their home before buying.

Ikea Place App Augmented Reality social media trends
You can expect these trends to impact users and brands significantly in 2018. Which means it’s probably time to revisit your social media strategy to ensure that you’re reaching your target audience in the most effective way and maximize your return on investment.


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