31 Dec Trends In Social Media Marketing
The unique aspect about Social media marketing as it moved from erstwhile Web 1.0 to its present much advanced avatar, has definitely been the rise in interactivity, lead generation capabilities and now social commerce. With social media apps taking turns to reach the podium (from ICQ to Orkut to now Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) this landscape has witnessed an incredible change based on the nature and type of social interactions consumers have thrived for. Globally there have been many interesting trends which are helping propagate social media platforms and revenues. The most common among them include:
1. Experiential and native experiences : Social media marketing is moving from image to video to real-time experiential content which is highly native to the platform. Gone are the days of passive content and creativity for the sake of it. Brands these days need to start combining mobility, augmented and virtual reality, location-based updates to both intrigue and connect audiences across their social media presence.
The future of social media hinges on experimentation and high Adrenalin akin to the excitement of online gaming. In the not-so-distant future social networks will be able to both chaff and integrate social media activities of multiple individuals with common interests and showcase it to those who have an affinity for similar themes. Platforms which are already suggesting us posts we might like will also be able to guide us and connect to brands which we would have an intent to buy from (based on our earlier brand interactions across specific categories). Firms need to think deeply on creating such native experiences which are meaningful and at the same time can guide social commerce to make social media marketing a top channel for monetization.
2. Changing course of organic traffic : Social media is going the paid way, similar to all other traditional platforms which started in an organic manner. But the lure of executing social media marketing strategy on social platforms is only rising. With Facebook’s latest announcement on promoting posts across an individual’s social group (friends and family), it is placing a premium on brands to incorporate more social media advertising in their mix. Brands now need to think how to best integrate their organic and paid social media efforts in the most productive manner.
While we believe we are doing our best to generate organic posts, which are high on creativity, the glut of Facebook pages and content posted on them is also impacting this shift. Brands thus need to put in not only higher efforts to increase organic effectiveness but also invest in paid social media advertisements so that they are able to target audiences in the most integrated manner. Brands need to go back-to-basics and develop not only incredible content but also test their audiences for specific preferences to make the most of their investments.
3. Rise of “the disappearing content” : Also known as “Ephemeral Content” or content which disappears in 24 hours (on Snap-chat), this has been one of the most interesting additions to social media platforms. Such visual content became a trend which Instagram also adopted (along-with the option to share live ephemeral video).
Also known more popularly as “Stories” these days, this content format is trending heavily owing to high consumer engagement for such authentic, cutting-edge, unscripted content. Stories typically have a fun element and allow addition of multiple filters, text and tags. In Instagram, discoverability is a key feature which means users can view and interact with brand stories even if they are not following the brand. Major types of stories include:
(a) Live events
(b) How-to videos/behind-the-scenes looks
(c) Contests and giveaways
(e) Takeovers (different user decides what content to share)
(f ) Daily or weekly video series
(g) Announcements or product reveals
4. Influencer as the new celebrity : Influencer marketing, is one of the fastest trending areas across social media marketing. With a lot of advertising dollars chasing multiple influencer types across multiple vertical and hobby-related areas, it is essential for firms to get on to the bandwagon to leverage the large followership across this channel.
While it is a growing trend, there are also major challenges which brands face in terms of identifying influencers who are effective and can be trusted. Influencers need to provide the right face-lift for brands in terms of authenticity. While a lot of money is targeted in an effective manner, a lot of it is also thrown around in the name of a large followership, which does not exactly yield desired results. Brands need to make sure they are associated with the right experts and should have a clear plan on how to best engage them for successful campaigns.
5. Prominence of video and live content : While video as a category has been trending heavily since the past two years, attention is now shifting on how to make videos really count. Also, the changing nature of video itself is a feast to track. There is live streaming, deferred videos, expiring videos and most of all silent videos (which are trending strongly). According to Digiday, more than 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound which talks a lot about how people want to consume video content sans sound in an already loud environment. Captions too are getting importance in this context and are a must have.
Live streaming is another important social media advantages trend in video-based marketing. With tools like Twitter’s Periscope, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live gaining importance, marketers can now showcase live product demos, stream live events, execute Q&A sessions and even generate buzz through live contests and giveaways in a targeted manner.
6. Messaging apps becoming critical : The biggest social media trend apart from video is undoubtedly the universal acceptance of messaging apps. What grew as just popular interest in terms of Whats App has now grown into a phenomenon, wherein most of the social interactions today are growing across this platform. While messaging apps are also termed as the “Dark Social” (because brands are not able to trace conversations to monetize them), there has been strong interest of late in utilizing messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, We-Chat and even Whats App for brand marketing innovatively. Some common ways include missed calls, specific groups, customer assistance, real-time reservations/bookings, etc.
7. Regional and local connect : With vernacular opportunity knocking doors, the time is ripe for regional players to venture into local social media network platforms. With regional language stickers and filters being launched for multiple festive occasions by brands, multi-lingual content has proven to be highly popular. According to an article in Economic Times newspaper, the potential market size for non-English social media and digital content platforms is 300 million currently and is expected to grow to 700 million by 2022. Few examples include Mooshak which has 20,000 active monthly users and supports Hindi, Kannada and Marathi languages. Others include Share-chat with 17 million monthly active users and Gutrgoo with 5000 registered users.
8. Rise in social media e-commerce : According to Shopify, “Facebook dominates as a source of sales and enjoys the highest conversion rate for all social media e-commerce traffic at 1.85%. In addition, an average of 85% of all orders from social media comes from Facebook”. With Facebook launching its Marketplace and Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest following suit, social commerce is turning out as one crucial trend which is pulling social-media up the holy grail of digital commerce. According to a survey from Aimia, 56% of consumers said they followed brands on social media to browse products for sale, and 31% of online shoppers say they are using social media specifically to look for new items to purchase, which means that the trend is here to stay.
9. User-generated content (UGC) promotion by brands : Another very interesting development is the promotion of user-generated content on brand’s own handle. Brands these days are encouraging highly active followers to share pictures and videos with their brand names/products embedded within. For the ones which are good, brands share the messages across their social audience, which not only gives authenticity to the brand but also uplifts the user who generated the content in the first place.
10. Social media getting younger and older together : The most interesting trend is how social media at one hand is generating engagement across Gen Z (born in the late 1990s/early 2000s) and at the same time getting older. It is all thanks to Facebook where 53% of U.S. social media users are now 35 or older. With older generations taking social media in their stride and younger audiences flocking to newer platforms, brands investing in social media need to keep close track of their audiences across the platforms being targeted. More importantly, social media platforms need to be aware of specific features to target both kinds of demographic lest they entirely lose the plot with one of them.