It’s December again, and per tradition I’m going to share the social media trends for the upcoming year. The trends actually span more than just social media, although they are all influenced by or affect social media in some way. Read on to discover what’s coming:
Everything is mobile
We all know that mobile marketing is important. But nobody predicted the speed with which people are making the switch from desktop to mobile (and tablet). Last year nearly all web traffic happened on smartphones – making your customer’s mobile experience that much more important. For marketers this means that campaigns and landing pages need to bring that “wow” factory to a tiny screen.
Virtual and augmented reality are starting to take off
I know… you’ve already heard a ton of predictions about virtual reality, and you think that probably very few of them will come true. But let’s consider last year, specifically last summer. You could hardly walk down the street without running into someone who was trying to catch a Rattata. The game Pokémon Go introduced augmented reality (AR) to the masses. What could we conclude? When AR works and is fun to use (with others), tons of people adopt it.
There was also quite an uproar about VR headsets, despite the fact that many headsets didn’t allow you to use the Pokémon Go app.
The practical applications of AR and VR are currently being worked out in the game industry, but brands with physical stores are still interested in AR. They’re considering how AR can be used for promotions based on loyalty and location or distance to the store. However we’re really just getting started with VR and AR, so I don’t expect them to take a leading role in the social media trends for next year. We’ll definitely see a few noteworthy experiments from brands. Stay tuned.
Automation in marketing is advancing
Social media marketing continued to grow in volume and importance in 2016, but this is just the beginning. Social is getting more professional and the pace is accelerating constantly. Automation of social media marketing is going through a growth spurt, forcing companies to think more creatively about content and how it’s distributed. Making everything by hand is no longer feasible. Advertising and conversion strategies will be automated by increasingly robust tools.
Chatbots (bots) are going to make their debut at companies, for example in Facebook Messenger. Customers will need to get used to talking with chatbots, but this trend in automation can’t be stopped.
The popularity of Twitter continues to decrease
Twitter isn’t doing great – it’s eventual demist has been predicted for the last few years. I’m not here to tell you if Twitter will be around next year (it probably will). I want to talk about the factors that cost Twitter it’s popularity and growth. People are tired of mindless tweets, fake followers and inflammatory soliloquies from politicians. Twitter grew quickly and hand-over-foot, updates that seemed random which led to a barrage of incoming and outgoing tweets. This was new and exciting, but we were quickly longing for something more, something bigger. Content with more detail, better quality, published less frequently, like what we see on Instagram.
Video gets even more popular, especially Live
This year video content had it’s social media breakthrough. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp continue to push video and we see marketers using live video more often. Think about what video means to your brand, whether that’s hosting or broadcasting workshops or events.
Snapchat is evolving
I can’t talk about social media trends without naming the huge evolution of Snapchat (aka Snap). Where are they headed? We thought we wanted beautiful quality content like Instagram, but Snap showed the promise of quick and raw stories. A-la-carte, live content.
As a result we’ve continued to see mobile-first development and the increasing adoption of vertical videos. But Snapchat is still looking for products outside of the realm of ‘quick and dirty’ content, like augmented reality glasses called Snap Inc. Spectacles. Users will help Snap document information by ‘filming’ their surroundings. I’m expecting more marketing opportunities from this revamped company in 2017.
Chatbots are continuing to surprise us
Artificial intelligence has advanced to the point of it being useful in our daily lives. Take Apple’s digital assistant Siri, for example, or Cortana, Viv and Google Assistant. Instead of using your fingers to look up the answer to something, people are starting to use voice instead.
Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Google Allo introduced integrated chatbots to help answer simple questions or book tickets, make reservations, or plan appointments. We’re getting used to communicating with machines. Chatbots can be very useful for brands that need to answer quite a few frequently asked questions. Having a chatbot automate the answering of these questions can save a lot of time for that brand’s customer service team. Then the team can spend more time on the more complex questions, or analysing the process or outcome of their work.
2017 is going to be a wild ride. I’m excited to see the innovation that will reveal itself this year. If I had to choose the trend from this last that will be the most impactful in 2017, I’d have to say chatbots… ;-)!