Digital and online marketing are changing every day as technological advances are revolutionizing how we socially interact and how we make purchase decisions. In today’s digital world, players have to keep up, or get left behind. Today, we’re sharing the 10 latest trends in social media to keep an eye out for as you develop and fine tune your social media marketing strategies.

  1. Live Video

With Facebook Live, Twitter Periscope, and Snapchat Stories, live video is more popular than ever. Video is already the most effective type of social media content (versus content like written text and visual images). Users feel more engaged with live video. Brands can use live video to deliver event coverage, product demonstrations, address audiences in a timely manner, interview influencers, and answer users’ common questions.

Buzzfeed, two employees managed to burst a watermelon by covering it with 686 rubberbands ­­

800,000 views and 315,000 comments, see screenshot of the Facebook Live Video below from Buzzfeed.

Photo Credit: https://www.buzzfeed.com/tasneemnashrulla/we-blew-up-a-watermelon-and-everyone-lost-their-freaking-min?utm_term=.boXWrg9bp#.scKRBd7Y3

  1. Similar Features Across Networks

As social media continues developing and evolving, different social networks are competing to offer the same features. Live, non-permanent video was first pioneered by Snapchat, and now it’s being added to other popular networks like Facebook and Instagram.

In response, users tend to prefer one network’s version of a feature over others. For example, it seems likely that users who enjoy Stories on Snapchat are going to discontinue using it on Snapchat and adopt the feature on Instagram. The jump make sense, since Instagram has a bigger following and user-base. Brands must figure out where their audience is primarily using the most popular features and work to develop a presence on those platforms.

  1. Power of Messenger

Metrics are showing that Messenger apps are being used more than the networks that host them. In other words, users are spending more time on apps like Facebook Messenger than on the Facebook social media platform itself. Chats in messenger apps are engaging users more than the newsfeeds and sponsored posts.  In response, Facebook is offering Messenger Conversation, a new type of Facebook advertisement. Now, users can click on an ad and automatically start chatting with a company in Facebook Messenger.

Networks are also adding additional features to their messenger interfaces. Filters are no longer just for Snapchat. Friends in Facebook Messenger can add filters and facial lenses to their interactions and send GIFs and emoji’s just by tapping their fingers on their mobile screens.

Photo Credit: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2017/06/28/facebook-messenger-new-video-call-features/

  1. Customer Service Bots

As artificial intelligence is continually improved and advances over time, it will become harder and harder to tell whether we are speaking with a human customer representative or an AI.

As mentioned previously, customers will be chatting more frequently with companies in messengers (some of who will come to the chat directly from social media advertisements). However, companies just don’t have the time or the staff to answer users on messengers as quickly as they would like to get help. Customer service bots make it possible for a customer to be helped without the need of someone at the company sitting at a computer and troubleshooting issues every time a message comes through. More and more companies are adopting these tools as they work to maximize customer service efforts and customer satisfaction.

  1. Social Media Ads & Sponsored Content

Nowadays it’s extremely difficult to get by on organic content alone. With the updates to network algorithms, brand content is not pushed as much as organic content from personal profiles and pages. Brands will have to increase their social media advertising spending to keep themselves in front of their social media audiences. More of these efforts will be expanded on mobile platforms as users use their mobile devices more than any other to access their social media accounts.

  1. Authentic Interaction with Consumers

Today’s consumer has more influence and control than ever before. Their opinions and reviews posted on social media and websites have real consequences on brand image. Brand communities will make or break products and start-ups online. To better engage and interact with consumers, companies are using more personal modes of communication and framing their social media posts to appeal to customers’ willingness to participate in discussions.

Photo Credit: https://www.instagram.com/starbucks/?hl=en

In the photo above, Starbucks regrammed a consumer’s Instagram post and tagged them to promote user-generated-content and appreciate its community.

Brands are also reaching out and asking consumers to join the conversation and participate in the brand story. In Skittles’ “Mob the Rainbow” campaigns, users were asked to participate in “Valentine the Rainbow.” Users made cards that were delivered by a cupid to a parking enforcement officer on Valentine’s Day, and Skittles covered the event on its social media.

It’s also becoming commonplace for companies to ask users a question or poll them. In their second campaign, “Poll the Rainbow,” Skittles asked audiences what they would want to see most between an elevator mariachi band, a moon-walking tubesock, or the ultimate winner of the poll, a Skittles Gifting Tree. The Skittles team filled a tree with the rainbow candy and people in the area came to partake. Again, Skittles shared video coverage on social media. Go here for more information on the Skittles campaign.

Brands should practice asking consumers to share and comment on content, participate in the conversation, and voice their preferences. Furthermore, brands can make great use of user-generated-content that is authentic and shares their love for brands and experiences with them.

  1. Social Shopping

Anticipate consumers wanting to do more shopping through social media channels than through other traditional retail channels. Have you ever clicked on a Facebook ad for a product and ended up purchasing it? Retargeting consumers and getting more in touch with what individual segments want will be how brands will make the most sales through social media. And these strategies will become easier as social media platforms improve their analytics.

  1. Mobile Environments Dominate

Mobile is the biggest player now in the social media world. People check their social media apps from their mobile devices, like smart phones and tablets, more than they do on any other devices. It only makes sense that these apps now streamline their features with mobile interfaces and mobile device capabilities.

Snapchat runs on a mobile camera function, people check in on Facebook, Tweet their activities throughout the day, and shop on their mobile devices. Consumers price check and research products on their smart phones while standing in store aisles. They follow QR codes with scanner apps. They visit restaurants with friends and then check in and tag each other on their newsfeeds. Establishments now advertise their social media accounts on flyers in store fronts, on front desks, and next to guest books. Don’t neglect social media advertising on mobile platforms or you may miss out on the most traffic.

  1. Virtual Reality

You probably interact with more virtual reality in your daily life than you know. Augmented reality technology like facial lenses in Snapchat and in Facebook Messenger and in the popular app Pokemon Go engage consumers in fun, interactive activities and experiences. Millennials especially have come to expect and demand interactive and immersive experiences.

These immersive technologies continue to grow and engage customers in new and creative ways. Companies put together virtual reality product demonstrations for social media sharing. Customers even buy real estate after taking virtual tours and book venues after visiting them digitally. Furthermore, Oculus Rift and Masquerade now operate under Facebook.

TOMS’ VR campaign is one example of how brands enhance engagement with their audiences. The shoe company shared a VR video to allow consumers to see children who received shoes from TOMS in Peru. The screenshot below is an example of how TOMS shared the story on YouTube.

Photo Credit: https://www.instagram.com/starbucks/?hl=en

  1. Influencers

As communication technology evolves, advertisers are finding that old school methods don’t work on contemporary consumers. For example, a lot of consumers today shut out ads with ad blockers on their computers. Some do not watch TV commercials anymore, because of DVR technology that allows them to fast forward through sponsored content.

Consumers are much more likely to purchase a product when a content creator they know, trust, and relate to recommends it than they are to purchase a product after looking at a company’s social media advertisements. Influencers share their own reviews, experiences with a product, walk consumers through opening and setting up the product, the pros and cons of using it, and how they integrate the product into their lifestyles.

When Influencers share their collaborations with brands across their blogs and social media accounts, the brand is put in front of the influencer’s audiences and the brand’s reach is extended.

Influencers create and share content on food, tech gadgets, toy reviews, home improvement projects, video games, makeup and cosmetics, clothing, and more. The possibilities are endless.

Each and every year, you’ll have to update your online marketing strategies to fit the needs and behaviors of consumers. Stay up-to-date and keep brushing up your skills. Don’t fall behind as social media becomes more and more important in today’s business world.

Square 1 Group is a web development firm that prides itself on producing high quality and efficient web design for clients from a variety of industries. We have years of experience assisting both small businesses and large corporations with online marketing strategies, lead generation, content creation, and online branding. Feel free to contact us for a consultation.