As much as social media marketing and social networking are popular, we have yet to scratch the surface with social media capabilities. As social media evolves, so do our interactions on those platforms. Stay ahead of the social media curve with the major trends that are defining the future of social networking. They are:
1) New Channel
In 2012, social media was primarily the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. That’s it. The goal was to engage and grow communities on these channels via desktop. The idea was to gain enough likes and followers so that you had a reliable distribution channel for your content.
Today, your audience may still be there, but there are many other places as well in just as many industries and niches. Social media usage hasn’t slowed down one bit since 2012, it’s only grown and diversified.
You must know your audience and you must focus your efforts on the networks that are most relevant for them and your business. To make this happen, the role of the social media marketer has expanded since its introduction. You need to understand your target market, and whatever social channel they spend time in. These days that probably includes Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but it’s now expanded to networks like SnapChat, Reddit, YouTube, Instagram, and more.
A modern social media marketing strategy doesn’t try to drive people out of these sites, you turn these sites into their own conversion funnel. You create amazing content that brings attention and use ads and other technology to convert those users in your network.
Instagram was one of the first totally visually focused social networks, at first it was almost all pictures. Its massive success served as a spark for the rest of the industry. Quickly other social networks started leaning away from text into images, and that trend continued to evolve towards video.
We now all have super computers at our fingertips with strong Wi-Fi and cellular networks. This makes hosting, sharing, and serving video a fast, enjoyable experience.
The result is that video has become the new currency of social media.
People want video. You may have noticed how much more video you’re seeing in your Facebook and LinkedIn feeds. This may have impacted you, but for even younger audiences, social video has totally replaced TV and has truly become their primary point of contact. They still want to consume video and now you can turn directly to YouTube, Instagram, Periscope, and Facebook to get it. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone under 18 who their favorite YouTuber is? Or how many “snaps” they posted today?
All of this has already happened. It’s not new. This means if you haven’t figured out how your company or brand can produce relevant video you must act or risk becoming irrelevant. Producing video should be something you add to your personal repertoire. If you can’t do it yourself, get help. Lean on good freelancers or agencies to guide the way and help you build your video strategy and production department.
Video should be part of all your marketing campaigns. It can be live, pre-produced, casual, or polished. You’ll figure out what works for your audience, but you must get started now if you haven’t already.
You, me, and everyone else in the world have relatively cheap, extremely powerful, mobile devices within our reach. Wi-fi is now everywhere, and 4G networks can be found in many corners of the globe. This has made accessing the internet and consuming content on mobile much easier. And it turns out that as long as the experience is good, people prefer using their mobile device for everything.
A result of this is that social media is now almost all mobile. An estimated 80% of social usage now comes from mobile devices. Social media is growing like crazy and almost all of it is coming from mobile first or mobile only users. Whoa!
Understand the importance of mobile now? Obviously, it’s important to know your own audience’s trends, but your marketing should now also be mobile first. Assume that most people you engage with or want to reach in social are coming from their mobile phone.
Step one is encouraging users to start conversations via messenger. There are lots of reasons why a customer or prospect would want to chat with you via Messenger. Maybe it’s to aid communications at an event you’re hosting, or perhaps to deal with a customer service question.
Whatever the reason, it’s a good idea to start doing it. Having access to people via messaging means having a direct, mobile first channel to people.
4) Social Ads
Most people would agree that a modern social media marketing strategy must incorporate video and mobile, but do you have to use social ads? The answer now is probably yes.
You don’t have to always be running ads or use them for every campaign. But if you can’t effectively use paid media to amplify your inbound marketing strategy, you’re going to lose to the competition.
A good social ad strategy will make you way more money than it will ever cost you, and will help you compete with much larger businesses. You also don’t need to have a massive budget to be successful. Ads can be easily scaled up or down, so when you figure out the right conversion path and are profitable, increase your ad spend.
Facebook and LinkedIn both now have great lead generation solutions built for a mobile audience. This is a big opportunity — and one you don’t want to miss out on.
5) Artificial Intelligence
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are ideas that marketers are chomping at the bit to put to work. But the question that hasn’t been answered is how? Social Media and Social Ads are the answer.
No other marketing channel has grasped A.I. like social. It defines what content you see, what ads you’re served, and how you engage with your friends. In many ways A.I. defines social, and it’s important to keep this in mind when creating content. Everything is defined by a machine learning algorithm specific to individuals.
No technology can replace the feeling someone gets when they feel like you’re talking only to them. It’s important to root everything you do in those concepts.
6) Engage Influencers
Collaborating with an influencer has become one of the most effective ways to get a brand in front of a massive targeted audience. Influencers have proven themselves to be incredibly valuable to marketing campaigns, drastically increasing conversion rates and retention.
Build collaborative relationships with influencers. Successful influencer marketing takes an effort between the brand and the influencers. When developing relationships with influencers, it’s crucial to find avenues that benefit both them and your business. When both parties are getting what they want out of a campaign, success is inevitable. Establish an influencer marketing program rather than treating it as an occasional project to ensure the most effective strategy is being put forward.
7) Quality Content Is Key
The convergence between content and social media is continuing to become more frequent. It’s important that your business is rolling out quality content for your social media strategy to be successful. Content that resonates with users will prompt them to share it, which will only work to increase engagement.
Analyze the engagement your content is generating to understand what your target audience is responding to. This will help you learn to develop content in the future that further parallels the audience’s interest.
8) Increased focus on privacy
Privacy concerns have plagued social media since its inception, and are only getting more pronounced. Expect future social media companies to offer more advanced network and profile privacy than ever before.
9) Legacy building
As has been said many times in this book, the internet is written in ink. It cannot be erased, and in the future, people won’t want it to be. Users will want their social media to exist as an ongoing time capsule, a living record of their lives. Smart platform builders will realize posting shouldn’t be a burst about a single moment in time, to be consumed in a few seconds and forgotten about immediately, but as an interactive diary involving many writers, all telling pieces of their own and others’ stories.
10) Open to experimentation
Future models will have seen platforms of the past try different things to different levels of success and will be open to exploring. They will try out wildly different ways of managing contacts, befriending people, and organizing interface layouts.