Most products and services used by billions of people worldwide are slow to change, but then again, the internet isn’t a normal service–it’s a rapidly changing network accessed by nearly half of the globe. If you want to keep up to date as a digital marketer, you need to be quick on your feet and adjust to new trends as soon as they pop up. And this is especially true for social media, the largest online industry and distribution channel by far, with well over 2.46 billion users in 2017.
Some trends start faster than lightning, but fizzle out quickly–anyone remember Vine? Others simmer in the background for a bit until they completely turn the digital marketing world upside-down. Quick trends can be nice for a short-term viral advertising campaign, but it’s the fundamental changes in how we consume content that you really must pay attention to if you expect to keep your company at the top.
So what’s going on so far in 2017 that’s worth keeping your eyes on?
1. The Rise of Live Video
Video has been a growing medium for years as social networks try to create new ways for users to express themselves and communicate with others. In Social Media Examiner’s 2016 report, they found that 60% of marketers already use video and 73% plan to use it in the coming year. The increase in video content is probably not a surprise to anyone, but the bigger trend to pay attention to is the growing emphasis on live video broadcasts.
According to the same report, over 50% of marketers plan to start using live video for upcoming ad campaigns and 50% want to learn more about it.
Marketers are simply following the massive amount of users that have a growing interest in live video, just as they followed the trends for paid ads, influencers, and content marketing. With social media networks pushing live video as a new and exciting format for users, it’s only natural that digital marketers should also begin investing in the medium.
Facebook is one of the biggest drivers behind live video. In 2016, the company spent almost $30million advertising and pushing their live video service when it rolled out. It has a solid advantage right now, with 55% of marketers listing Facebook as their most important social media platform. But, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter’s Periscope are hot on Facebook’s heels.
As live video continues to grow, more businesses are starting to take advantage of the platform as a new way to significantly increase brand engagement. More users are turning to live video, so digital marketers need to start investing as well or they’ll end up getting left behind. Some forward-thinking brands and influencers have already started using live video to stream events and interactive Q&A sessions.
Live sessions tend to have strong engagement from users, making them an ideal place to launch new products, make announcements, or simply send out a quick message to your followers. Nobody wants to miss out, and many of your users will tune in to get the scoop before anyone else.
2. Optimizing Content for Algorithms
Trying to beat the algorithms is nothing new to online marketers, but it’s a trend that’s now spreading to just about every social media platform on the market. In the beginning, it was all about beating Google’s algorithms, but now marketers must pay attention to what they can do to get their Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter posts seen by more people.
Each network employs their own algorithms to keep content fresh for their users. If you want your posts to succeed, you’ll need to think about what you’re posting, when to post it, and how to encourage genuine engagement from your followers. In social media marketing, engagement is king.
Many of the posts that make it to the top of users’ feeds are those that have a lot of interactions. New posts get priority over older posts, but those with more engagement will still hang around for awhile and be visible to users with some sort of connection to the topic. Your chances of being at the top of people’s feeds increases as you get more shares, likes, and comments. That’s not just true with Facebook, but with every other social media network as well.
Instagram is becoming an increasingly valuable social network for digital marketers to learn. It’s growing at an incredibly fast rate, and the changes it makes to the industry seem to come even faster. The platform is constantly changing, which is a deliberate step by its leadership team to stay ahead the of competition and continue growing its market share. As an advertiser, learning how to succeed on Instagram is vital to keep up with your competitors. This means optimizing your posts with a call to action, relevant tags, and precise posting times catered specifically to your audience.
3. Messaging Apps and Chatbots Are All the Rage
We don’t always think about messaging services when we talk about social media, but it’s one of the most popular forms of online communication that exists today. A total of 4 billion users are actively using the top messaging apps every month. Messaging apps are the most personal form of engagement possible, allowing for individual conversations directly from person to person. However, tapping into that engagement isn’t quite as clear as it is on other social media networks.
Users are actively looking for new ways to use messaging apps for more services. The easiest example is customer service. Users appreciate having another way to reach out for help without having to drop everything they’re doing only to stay on hold for hours without getting an answer to their question. Companies that feature customer service chatbots provide higher quality service without needing to hire an internal support team.
Currently, more than 45,000 developers use Facebook’s chatbot building tool to make bots for both personal and business use. Many are used for simple customer service queries that help free up the human workers typically needed to solve your customers’ problems in a timely manner.
4. Shopping Directly from Your Feed
Online shopping isn’t all about Amazon or eBay anymore. A growing amount of shopping is now being done directly from the feeds of many popular social media platforms. Social media companies are strongly encouraging this model as a way to get users more involved in their platforms and drive engagement with the brands they follow. The more that can be done directly from their services, the more they cement themselves as a cornerstone in their user’s daily lives.
As a marketer, this is a fantastic trend. You can build your brand quickly by putting a product in the hands of any influencer who speaks directly to your target market. Ads and sponsored posts can be boosted and placed on the feeds of people who are most likely to be interested in them. You now have the opportunity to speak directly to potential customers and tell them why your product will impact their lives.
Many of the larger social media networks allow users to buy products directly from their apps or from posts on their feeds. Facebook and Instagram were pioneers in this effort, allowing users to make purchases through the apps without having to visit an online store. Both Instagram and Snapchat are starting to let users make purchases directly from the content they’re viewing.
As a digital marketer, it’s important to jump on these trends early if you want to stay competitive. These are growing trends that haven’t fully saturated the market yet, presenting marketers with a perfect chance to present something that feels new and unique to their target audience.