In the rapidly changing changing world of social media marketing, it’s important to stay informed about the latest and upcoming trends. To learn about how social media marketing is changing, I recently attended a Hootsuite webinar called “Social Media Trends to Put Into Practice in 2018,” hosted by James Mulvey and Amber Naslund of Hootsuite.
Mulvey began the presentation by discussing the major social platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn), the recent updates that have been made to the platforms, and how brands will use them differently in the future. I’ve highlighted the three platforms we support for retailers at AWG.
- Mobile Video: As more consumers watch videos on mobile devices, social networks offer new opportunities to add to traditional TV content and create new forms of entertainment and news programming.
- Messenger Ads: Facebook now offers brands the ability to create ads that are sent directly to a customer’s inbox.
- Facebook Groups: Facebook created Brand Groups and they’re going to be a key marketing opportunity for brands. Brands can create groups on their business pages where audiences can go and interact with the brand and each other.
- Engaged Communities: Instagram added 200 million new users in 2017. Brands continue to have success with organic and peer-to-peer engagement.
- Advertising: New ad and story functions will be added, including the ability to include hyperlinks in the ads and stories.
- Video: Twitter is continuing their push on video discovery. They’ve also included in-stream video ads that can help you build a broad audience.
- Advertising: Twitter is adding new direct-response ad formats
Another trend Mulvey discussed was the challenge of finding sustainable solutions to declining organic reach. This has always been an issue but, as he pointed out, brands need to focus on long-term approaches to this and not just short-term gains.
Mulvey also highlighted social user behaviors that will determine how effective social media marketing is for brands. For example, 1 in every 3 minutes on mobile is spent in a social app. He noted that as consumers spend more time on social networks, new behaviors are emerging. Consumers tend to passively consume content on Facebook and Twitter, while discussing, sharing and engagement are moving to more specialized platforms.
However, consumers are integrating social media more into their purchase journeys. Younger demographics are leading these shifts but even among 55-64 year olds, 20% say they’ve used social networks when researching products and services. Social media is beginning to overtake search engines when it comes to product and service recommendations. Consumers are going straight to social.
The evolution of ROI
- Organizations continue to struggle with social media marketing ROI. Naslund pointed out that organizations are finding success by broadening the value of social media across the customer lifecycle. Naslund suggests measuring beyond content performance metrics and connecting “activity” metrics with customer journey stages.
Mobile fuels the growth of social TV
- As Mulvey discussed, mobile video is on the rise and this is giving social networks new opportunities to add to traditional TV content and create new forms of entertainment and news programming. Naslund reminded the audience that video offers a lot engagement but it should be treated as a tactic not a strategy. She also recommended partnering with other brands and influencers if you’re unable to create a lot of your own video content.
Trust declines, while peer influence rises
- Customers trust brands, CEOs and even brand spokespeople less and less. They now look to their own communities or “people like me” influencers to inform their decisions about brands. Peers are now as credible as experts. Naslund said that 2018 will reward businesses that put their people (employees, advocates, customer communities, and influencers) at the center of their marketing strategy.
Artificial Intelligence is already here
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already here and it’s already a part of social media marketing. Naslund suggested that brands make sure artificial intelligence strategies stay focused on being human, helpful and relevant at a scale. Facebook is already providing AI in the form of auto-messaging for company page private messages. It allows you to automatically respond to a customer with a stock answer and then come back later with a real person to go into more detail if they need it.
The promise (and reality) of social data
- Marketers often underestimate the time and resources it takes for social data projects. Naslund encouraged social media marketers to go from reactive listening to uncovering new sources of business and brand growth. 96% of online conversation is unbranded so you could be missing opportunities using social monitoring only for your brand mentions.
The pair ended the presentation with encouraging organizations big and small (but especially small) to keep things simple. The temptation is to do a little bit of everything. Pick one platform where you’re really going to excel. Then put your time and effort into creating quality content that’s going to educate, inform or entertain your customer.