Social media evolves at pace faster than most of us can keep. What’s the current favorite of those trendy millennials? What are the new platforms and which are dunzo? What’s worth your time for your marketing strategy? Is Google+ really still around?
These are a few of the trends we expect to see in 2017.
- Networks as social players: This year, we expect to see how networks respond to changing cultures. In 2016, Twitter attempted to curb hate speech while Facebook was deciding whether it’s a media or tech company, and how it will deal with fake news. Changing news cycles, politics and increased globalization bring more challenges and tough decisions for networks to make about their roles as social players.
- Live video comes into its own: With Facebook Live, Periscope, and live video on Snapchat and Instagram, we have many options for shooting and viewing real-time videos. We’ll see higher user adoption and more brands jumping on board as marketers figure out how to capitalize on these networks.
- More paid promotion: Organic reach is declining on just about every platform (consider that of Facebook pages is just 2.6 percent). As this happens, brands will not only pony up the money to buy ads and further reach, but they’ll also look to influencer relationships to spread their messages. The networks need to monetize, but will it be at the cost of the user experience?
- Blurred lines and network competition: In a fierce competition for users, we’ve seen – and will continue to see in 2017 – networks “copying” features from others. Instagram added disappearing stories, and Facebook just recently added location frames a la Snapchat. Facebook also added new job-posting features a la LinkedIn. Acquisitions play into this, too. Think of Instagram and Facebook as Instagram continues to add more and more features routinely thought to be against the platform's core purpose of sharing photos.
- The search for communities: Twitter continues to face a battle against hate speech, and users are recognizing social media’s limits (think trolling, abuse and political anger during last year’s election cycle). If the networks don’t step up to address the issues, active users will drop. Social media will simply become unenjoyable. We could see a rise of organized, trusted communities that foster true engagement, or protected communities within larger platforms, such as the secret Pantsuit Nation Facebook group.
What does this mean for marketers?
Marketers are only successful when they can adapt long-standing marketing practices to fit new technologies and new audience preferences. That couldn’t be more true when it comes to social media, which practically shape-shifts by the day.
Marketers need to take a hard look at emerging networks and focus their efforts where it makes the most personal sense. If you can’t make the case to dedicate resources to go all in on a new channel, wait. Otherwise, you risk spreading your brand too thin.
Prioritizing image and video-based content will continue to be key. We’re a visual culture, and using images and video helps brands stand out. The networks themselves are emphasizing visual content, as well.
Finally, focus on engagement. Social media gives brands an amazing opportunity to speak directly with prospects, customers and influencers in real time and build a brand-consumer relationship. Twitter, in particular, lends itself to customer service, but there are many opportunities for brands to engage with audiences. It’s noticeable when brands ignore that opportunity, and it can cost them business. There are other benefits to social media – content distribution, for instance – but engagement must be part of the mix, and all other promotion needs to be balanced accordingly.
What are your plans for 2017? Tweet us @MetisComm and let us know.