Almost every internet user can now be reached via social media with 78% of the internet population aged 16 - 64 surfing from a mobile device. As a business, you probably already know that you need a strong presence on social media. However, it's no longer good enough for businesses to simply be "on" social media. You need to engage with your audience, build genuine relationships with them and understand the social media trends that will influence their behaviour.
Gone are the days of reaching your audience with any old content in any old way. Social media users are savvy, and many of them are starting to suffer from brand fatigue. In 2018 using social media strategically will be key to the success of your business.
Here are five social media trends that you should take note of to ensure you build a solid brand.
Goodbye organic reach, hello social advertising
While it remains to be seen if organic reach will disappear completely, it's safe to say that your content is unlikely to be widely seen without an ad budget supporting it. By the end of 2017, only 2-3% of your Facebook audience saw your posts and the chances are that number will decrease even further in 2018. If social advertising isn't a part of your 2018 marketing budget, you need to add it. According to The State of Paid Social 2017 report, Facebook continues to be the leading social platform for advertiser dollars, but Instagram is growing rapidly, and LinkedIn and Twitter aren’t far behind. It's worth noting that Facebook advertising is nearing saturation so ad prices are likely to rise.
Ironically, with the rise of social advertising, the latest research from Pagefair suggests that 11% of the global internet population uses ad blockers when surfing the web which means brands need to focus on building genuine relationships with their audience on their social channels or risk being blocked altogether.
Video, especially live video, needs to be relevant
No doubt you already know that video is taking over so it should be a firm staple in your 2018 social media strategy. Facebook video receives 135% more organic reach than images, and it's estimated that video will account for 80% of content online by 2020. According to Wordstream, social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined.
Live video dominates. It receives 10x more engagement than pre-recorded video, and 80% of internet users say they'd rather watch a live video than any other type of social content. However, when the novelty of live video begins to wear off, consumers will grow tired of brands posting tedious day-to-day content for the sake of going live. To stand out from the crowd, social videos and live broadcasts will need to be relevant to your audience.
Don't forget to combine SEO and Facebook Live. When your live broadcast is finished, it will be indexed by Google. Be sure to target high-volume keywords and include a summary of the video, so it's picked up by the Google bots. According to HootSuite, you'll soon see more video in Google search results when they roll out silent six-second previews for videos that autoplay.
Video content should be mobile optimised and designed to stop viewers in their tracks as they scroll through their feeds. Follow the rule of 'design for sound off, delight with sound on'. If you're producing video, make sure the quality is good enough that you'd be happy to put an ad budget behind it and ensure you develop a strategy for promoting it and re-purposing it across your social channels.
Peer to Peer influence is on the rise
According to GlobalWebIndex, 50% of global internet users post reviews online each month which has led to a sharp increase in peer-to-peer influence and advocacy. Additionally, research from Edelman states that 50% of global internet users trust individuals over corporations and think a company's social media channels are more believable than brand advertising. With that in mind, businesses should focus on turning their community - customers, employees and influencers, into brand advocates to promote peer-peer engagement and brand recognition. 2018 is the year that CEOs and other C-level executives should step out of the shadows and make their presence known - especially on Twitter - by engaging with customers openly and regularly. It's also the year that companies should encourage customers to leave reviews which can be shared across social channels.
Consumers are not interested in partnerships with the most popular online influencer or a big name celebrity unless the relationship is genuine and the content that's produced is authentic. Research suggests that messages are shared twenty-four times more frequently across social media when they are sent by employees rather than the brand itself which goes to show that you should add a human element to your brand, so you're more than just a logo to your audience. Produce authentic content and highlight your brand’s personality. Engage with your customers. Build a community.
LinkedIn is the place to be
LinkedIn used to be that place on the internet where you posted your CV then left it to collect dust while you hung out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but it’s safe to say that times have changed.
Since Microsoft took over back in 2016, they've rolled out a number of new features that have helped the platform grow to over 500 million users with two new members joining every second! LinkedIn has evolved dramatically and is now an engaging community of professionals and industry thought leaders.
Studies show that 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn, and 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content. If you are serious about your career and especially if you are a B2B company you need to have an active presence on LinkedIn in 2018.
The ability to prove social ROI is key
Despite the availability of numerous tools to measure social media metrics, there is often uncertainty when it comes to calculating the business value of social media.
According to a study by Altimeter, 84% of businesses state they track and measure the effectiveness of social media efforts against defined goals and objectives, and yet 29% are still trying to prove its value, a discrepancy that suggests a degree of uncertainty about the value of social as a business driver. One thing is certain: businesses crave clear ROI, yet for social, there is no consensus on how to calculate it.
Traditional metrics such as tracking impressions, reach and engagement is still important, but in 2018 there will be a shift to understanding business priorities and creating social media targets that are mapped to business outcomes. For example, how do consumers feel about your brand and has social media changed their perception?
Social Media is no longer a fad or an item that can linger at the bottom of your to-do list. It's evolved over the last few years to become a vital component of any successful marketing strategy. 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year in the world of social media - especially with the rise of AI and the arrival of Generation Z on the scene. However, it's worth remembering that the key to success, regardless of the latest trends, is to review data regularly and adjust your strategy depending on what your audience responds to.
What do you think will be the biggest social media trends in 2018? I'd love to hear your thoughts!