Can anyone imagine a world without social media? Just a handful of years ago it didn’t exist. No one was in danger of being run over as they crossed the street hunched over their smartphones. No one was spending their downtime scouring Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat feed for the latest news from friends, celebrities and businesses. Also there were very few channels for brands to engage with the consumers. But that was then.
Now, people are all glued to our social media channels and companies are getting smarter and smarter by targeting brand related content and messages to drive us to take action. So what’s next? What have the various players got in store for us?
2018 is set to be an interesting one in the industry so we’ve put together a list of social media trends we expect to see in 2018. Here are our predicted social media trends for 2018. It looks like it’s going to be a year for change.
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Social Media Trends for 2018
1. Instagram Stories
I agree, Snapchat was first to let users share short videos that delete after 24 hours, but it worked! It worked so well Facebook decided to take a whack at it both on Instagram and in the app that bears its name.
With its huge audience, it should come as no surprise that within the first year of the Instagram story debut, it has surpassed Snapchat’s view count with 20 million views a day. At that same rate, nearly half of all Instagram users will be using Stories by the end of 2018.
This means brands trying to connect with their customers on Instagram must take the time to get on board with stories. Regardless of B2B or B2C, they are a great way to showcase your company culture or put your processes on display.
The stories are fun to use and to view, allowing you to add filters, tags, and text. One of the biggest brand benefits of Instagram stories is that they are discoverable, meaning that Instagram users can see your stories even if they are not your followers.
In addition, just like with any other post on the platform, you can hashtag relevant keywords to help users find you faster and easier. These tags are clickable, so brands can dive into their niche markets and target more effectively than ever. Brands are going to be trying new ways to engage with their story viewers by taking polls and asking questions with their posts. You can even tag your location.
Now it’s definitely a long shot for most, but any account with 10,000 followers or more can also add links to their stories, which is a huge advantage considering Instagram doesn’t allow links in posts otherwise.
2. Social Media Influencers & Micro-Influencers
Not long ago, the fastest and easiest public relations tactic was hiring a celebrity to endorse or promote your brand or product, but that can come with a hefty price tag (and now Kyrie Irving is joining the flat-earthers).
Nowadays, a more reasonable solution is social media influencers (or micro-influencers), who are celebrities in their own circles. This was one of the most sorted out social media marketing trends for 2017 and will continue to one of the leading social media trends even in 2018.
Micro-influencers can have an incredible amount of reach, usually with followings in the hundreds of thousands or millions. Brands are shifting towards paying these influencers to promote their specific products because they deliver 11 times the ROI compared to traditional digital marketing, and 49% of people suggest that they depend on influencers for their purchase decisions.
This is not just a trend, but a billion-dollar emerging industry. Many of these influencers walk away with six-figure incomes, all from promoting brands to their massive followings. Over 90% of marketers who employ an influencer marketing strategy believe it is successful. In 2017, brands struggled to connect with their audiences with traditional advertising tactics, so expect influencers to take off even more than they already have.
3. Augmented & Virtual Reality
Well augmented reality impacts the mobile gaming industry, it is likely that social media platforms will find more ways to incorporate the new technology as well, making it a runaway success among leading social media trends today.
Snapchat is already on board, teaming up with Bitmoji to allow users to project animated versions of themselves into the real world doing lots of random things. Not to mention Pokemon GO, which has let players catch the beloved pocket monsters in their real surroundings for a couple of years now.
Even the new iPhone 8 and Google’s Pixel 2 have incorporated augmented reality with talking emojis amongst other things.
Getting away from the novelty of it all, the potential of augmented reality for brands is immense. Augmented reality will enable companies to showcase their products in brand new ways to customers, like seeing how a piece of clothing looks on them or how a certain chair would fit in their living room.
Implementing AR into your marketing efforts can take some significant time and budget, but we expect a more manageable solution to AR customization to come out this year through social media.
In terms of Virtual Reality, most technologies have at least another year of development before they hit mainstream markets.
There is some hope for 2018, however.
Facebook, for example, has been working on a project called Spaces that is designed to allow friends to connect in VR. Since Facebook owns Oculus, a VR headset retailer and software company, it’s no surprise that they are making this jump and it’s an exciting move for marketers.
Facebook is planning to release Spaces in 2018 and when they do, it is probably going to be the first of its kind virtual reality social media experience. While still being way off, marketers should start strategizing around this groundbreaking opportunity.
4. More Live Streaming is Coming
While Facebook Live and other live streaming have been around for a while now, the way people and brands are going to use them is changing.
We are going to see a lot more of this social media trend in 2018, and the people who do it well will be reveling in the organic reach it will generate. The significance of live streaming is not from it gaining popularity, but rather the technology we have to do it is improving. This is a very useful social media trends for business as it empowers them to reach out with quality content.
We get better phones with better hardware every year, meaning better and more accessible video recording and processing.
In 2018, more brands will begin to harness the power of live streaming and will incorporate it into their monthly content plans. And like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and even LinkedIn even more social platforms are sure to follow as they try to capitalize on the trend.
5. Generation Z
Who are this Generation Z? Gen Z are millennials’ little sibling, born in the late 90s / early 00s. This generation is the first to grow up 100% online and their tech-savviness is unparalleled. According to RetailDive, Gen Z is 2-3 times more likely to be influenced by social media than they are by sales or discounts.
In other words, they value social media and what others are doing more than they do price itself. That’s a huge shift from the price conscious shoppers of the past.
Now, most marketers won’t worry about Gen Z for at least a few years, but the very first of them are about 22 years old now and graduated college in 2017. A Generation Z workforce is on its way, and marketers should stay ahead of this curve on this one, especially B2B.
Goldman Sachs says that Gen Z is more valuable to marketers than millennials in 2018 because their buying power is only going to increase, and we need to shift social media strategies accordingly. There will be a shift in social media investments to Gen Z-friendly platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, and away from those like Facebook.
6. Higher Engagement Rates Between Brands & Customers
The connection between brands and consumers has never been closer than what we see today. Consumers not only love sharing personal accomplishments on social media, but they also enjoy getting responses for the milestone by brands. In fact, the data showed 41% of millennials would include a brand on a life milestone just to say thanks.
Brands are suddenly realizing the impact of social media engagement and creating lasting relationships instead of just treating social as a platform to advertise their products. It’s absolutely essential to keep your followers happy by providing a network where they can reach you. According to Instagram, at least 80% of its users already follow a brand on the network. This social media trends today are going to get even bigger in 2018.
The 6 social media trends above (and likely many more as time passes) will impact users and brands significantly in 2018. with these trends in mind, it’s time to reconsider your social media approach to maximize your ROI. In order to hit the ground running in 2018, get your plans underway now so that you can stay ahead of the curve with these latest trends.