It’s that time of the year again—2016 is wrapping up and it’s time to look to the future.
It’s been a heck of a year for social media. Twitter launched Moments. Facebook jumped on the live video bandwagon. Instagram took a leaf out of Snapchat’s ephemeral book. Microsoft bought LinkedIn.
Across the board, algorithms upped their game and the line between social media platforms and search engines continued to blur.
All the major players tried to outdo each other in the fight to come out on top as the place to be.
So, where does that leave us for 2017? In the spirit of this time of the year, let’s look at some likely trends and how you can include them in your best social media marketing strategy yet.
1. Ephemeral content will continue to gain popularity
Snapchat started the ball rolling, allowing users to share images that disappeared once they were seen. Then, in August 2016, Instagram joined the party by launching Instagram Stories. As 2016 began wrapping up, Facebook started testing its own ephemeral messaging capability.
Short-lived content has a unique superpower. It’s exclusive at a time when everything else is constantly available. If you miss it, it’s gone forever. The feeling that you are seeing something special is incredibly powerful. Use this power to create a bond between you and your followers that keeps them coming back for more.
If you haven’t began using short-lived content as part of your marketing strategy, 2017 is the time to jump in and experiment. But which platform you should try depends on who your audience is and where they hang out.
If you are an Instagram power user, why not use Instagram Stories’ new swipe feature to run a time sensitive promotion? The swipe down feature allows you to link the image to a separate, off-platform page. Use it to link to a unique promotion that’s only available for 24 hours. With swipe through rates ranging from 15-25%, payoff may be high!
2. Video, especially live video will keep on growing
Periscope. Facebook Live. Instagram Live.
Live video enjoyed a rapid rise in popularity throughout 2016 and it shows no signs of slowing down. There’s something very authentic about raw unedited footage that captures your attention and doesn’t let go.
Live video is honest and, in a world of focus tests and hidden agendas, consumers are latching on to something that hasn’t been tampered with. Something that (like real life) is a little messy.
On a practical level, live video is easy to do. All you need is a smart phone, a couple of spare minutes and your favorite social media app.
In 2017 live video will be your lighthouse, cutting through the fog of rehearsed content to connect directly with your followers on a human level. It will allow your business to forge relationships by engaging in real time, answering urgent questions, teasing new content or surprising your followers with a backstage exclusive.
But, it’s not going to be all live, all the time. Intentional, staged video will continue playing an important role on social media.
You can try to bridge these two frontiers with plugins like ViewedIt that will help you effortlessly create personalised videos straight from your browser. That way you capture the feel of live but can re-record before hitting share incase something goes drastically wrong.
Whatever your ultimate goal, including some form of video content in your 2017 strategy is smart marketing. Cisco predicts that by 2020, 75% of mobile traffic will be video, making now a great time to start creating video content.
3. The need for attention grabbing social media images
The last decade of social media has been a battle for reach and impact.
Instagram vs Snapchat. Long form content vs short form content. Webinars vs videos. Blogging every day vs blogging once a week.
One thing most of us agree on is the power of a great image. So in 2017, make the creation of compelling images a priority.
Competition for consumers’ attention is heating up. Organic reach has continued to decline and the non-chronological algorithms used by Instagram and Facebook are making it harder to reach our followers.
To gain a competitive edge, create attention grabbing graphics that are:
- Platform specific. Optimize image size and format to fit the social media platform where you post it.
- On brand. Use your brand colors to accent the image and create a curated look and feel that subconsciously makes the user associate those colors with your content.
- Niched down. Avoid generic images just because they look nice. Use images that are related to your niche, complement your content and will appeal to your ideal client.
This state of content overload makes great, on-brand images combined with snappy, enticing yet honest headlines a great way to demand the attention of your followers as they casually scroll down that overcrowded feed.
4. Augmented reality and social media will blend together
For a few happy weeks this summer, everyone you knew was out in the real world, hunting cute, invisible monsters on the augmented reality game, PokemonGo.
Then, just in time for Halloween, Facebook released masks, letting you try a cute variety of masks while chatting in Facebook Live.
Modiface allows users to try on makeup and experiment with facial care products through the app. Inkhunter lets people try on tattoo designs before making a big commitment. Google Translate’s AR feature lets you snap a picture of text and translates it in 27 different languages.
AR can help potential conference attendees visualize themselves in the environment through a live stream app. Or, it can lighten the mood in customer service roles by using seasonal and festive augmentations to create a more friendly environment.
So, in 2017, jump in and brainstorm how you can use AR to create a delightful customer experience.
Niched down content on the move
In 2017, we’ll see companies amping up content production rates, increasing social media marketing budgets and competing for their slice of the market share.
Organic reach on social media platforms will continue to drop, as more users embrace the platforms and flood them with content. Competition for social media paid ads will heat up and the temptation to try “get engagement quick” schemes will be pretty high.
Smart social media marketers will keep an eye on what their ideal customers engage with and love, and adapt it. We’ll keep identifying our clients’ pain points and integrate new solutions with best social media practices.
Strong relationships, a great product, creative thinking and solving for the customer will see you through a prosperous 2017.
Here’s to your success!