No matter the size of your business, social media is your best friend when it comes to connecting with your target market.

For starters, it has a captive and growing audience:

  1. The average person has five social media accounts and spends close to two hours using them. In fact, social media interaction accounts for 30% of all online activity.
  2. Social media platforms like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, make it quick and easy for you, even as a small brand, to distribute content to engage your audience.

That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of the latest social media trends. After all, the social media ecosystem is constantly evolving, and you need to keep up. New platforms rise (SnapChat) and fall (Vine), new features are constantly tested and rolled out, and audiences continually change the way they consume content.

Not every single change will be relevant to your business; and you don’t need to change your strategy every time a new trend arises. But you do need to be aware of the latest social media trends so you can assess whether they will affect your content and your audience engagement.

So, without further adieu, here are the social media trends to expect in 2018

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Gen Z will become more influential

Unlike Millennials, born between 1980-2000, Gen Z (born in 1995 and later) are the true digital natives. They have been growing up on screens since birth and consume media at a much higher rate than generations before. Today’s teens, for example, spend an average of nine hours a day consuming media online. While they are much less active on Facebook, they love SnapChat and Instagram—so, if your business isn’t active on those platforms, it’s time to look into it. Maybe your target consumers aren’t teens. But it’s important to remember that, once these teens enter the workforce, they’ll have huge buying power. So start thinking now how you’ll use the social platforms they love most.

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Instagram Stories will become even more popular

Speaking of Gen Z, one of their favorite platforms, Instagram, is experiencing huge success with a feature called “Stories,” (which Instagram copied from the other Gen Z-favorite, Snapchat). With Instagram Stories, users and brands can publish daily content which lives for 24 hours before disappearing. It’s the perfect way to keep your followers engaged without over-posting photos to your Instagram profile (as a rule of thumb, no brand should post to their Instagram profile more than once per day). Since debuting the feature a year ago, Instagram now has over 200 million people using Stories each month (50 million more than SnapChat Stories, the pioneer). If you haven’t tried the feature yet for yourself, make sure to check it out ASAP.

Augmented reality experiences will rise

What do the iPhone 8 and X have in common? They both have technology that let users experience augmented reality (AR) of the real world through apps. We’ve already seen the successful application of mobile AR with Pokemon Go, the popular scavenger hunt game that digitally superimposes “Pokemon” characters on top of the player’s phone screen when the player points the screen at their surroundings. While augmented reality is expected to make a splash in the gaming world, it is also predicted to have applications for how brands market to consumers. For example, brands could start projecting their products into the homes of consumers through special social media filters or apps. Want to show your potential customers how your sofa will look in their living room? There might be an app for that in 2018!

Influencer marketing will continue to grow

It’s getting harder and harder for brands to reach audiences through organic social media content; and paid content is not only costly but not always effective at converting. For those reasons, the “influencer marketing” model has arised and will become even stronger in 2018. “Influencer marketing” is a partnership between a social media influencer and a brand. The influencers aren’t necessarily celebrities, but they have a captive audience that brands want to tap into. So influencers and brands join forces, which can come in various forms. A good example is the partnership between cosmetic brand Too Faced and the popular YouTube beauty blogger Kandee Johnson in which they created a co-branded makeup palette. By partnering with Kandee on the palette, Too Faced was able to tap into her huge fan base of nearly 4 million YouTube subscribers.

Of course, influencer marketing comes in much simpler forms as well—like an influencer mentioning your brand in their content (often called a “shoutout”). In 2018, expect to see more creative ways that influencers and brands work together.

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Video will continue to dominate content strategy

Brands across all industries are taking notice: Video content is outperforming other content formats. The statistics on video content are already impressive and are only expected to grow. Reports show that 87% of online marketers use video content and 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week. Video not only has a farther reach in terms of impressions but also drives higher engagement—i.e. more likes, shares and comments. In fact, because video has become so popular, Facebook is redesigning the way users can follow and consume video content on its platform, in order to compete with YouTube.

What does this mean for your business? Make 2018 the year that you start producing more video content.

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The TakeAway

Social media trends come and go, and it’s never wise to pivot your strategy based on the latest social media craze. At the same time, it is important to stay informed on consumer behavior with social media and the ecosystem’s latest features and tools. One thing is for sure: social media giants like Facebook and Instagram want to give businesses more ways to create content and easier ways to publish. Make sure you stay aware of these features (like Stories, for example) and decide which ones are worth your resources.

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