There was a time when social media was all about posting your holiday pictures and fun events.
Well, that still remains.
But, Brands have woken up to the fact that social media is an opportunity to create real relationships with their customers. Why so? Because from morning to night, people reach out to their mobiles and most of the digital time is spent on social media.
More users are venting their frustration with brands on social media. Last year's dragging of the passenger was called by the CEO of United Airlines as the "turning point" for the aviation industry. What caused this? Social media.
Social search is increasing in its importance for seeking new brands or experiences More and more consumers are using social proof, as demonstrated in the peer network, as the only basis for purchase. At the same time, delightful and stand out communication by brands like Wendys in US or Waterstones in the UK create phenomenal brand loyalty.
What are the significant trends which brands need to navigate?
Trend #1: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
Snapchat started this phenomenon of Ephemeral Content.
After a user has generated content, it vanishes after 24 hours into thin air and followers have only that window to see it.
While Snapchat pioneered it, Instagram copied it and introduced Instagram Stories, and within a few months, 200 million people are using Instagram Stories per month, which is 50 million more than those who use Snapchat. At this rate, nearly half of all Instagram users will be using Stories by the end of 2018.
This wildly popular format amongst millennials and especially Gen Z will be embraced more and more by brands in 2018. They have to.
Since the launch of Stories, average time spent on Instagram per day increased to 28 minutes. That's approx. 7 to 13 minutes longer than time just before Stories. Also, Instagram has more than 1 million advertisers actively using Stories each month.
You know what the best thing about Stories for brands?
Any Instagram user can see your brand's stories even if they are not following you right now. How cool is that?
Trend #2: Influencer Marketing
Already a rising trend in the past years, the age of micro-influencers is indeed here. Want proof?
Meet Ryan. Ryan is all of 6 years. You read it right: 6 years only and is estimated to have made $11 million in 2017 through his YouTube channel, Ryan ToysReview which has over 11 million subscribers at last count.
Why should they matter?
Gen Z is 2-3 times more likely to be influenced by social media than they are by sales or discounts. 81% say they watch at least one hour of video every day.
This level of video consumption makes Influencers more attractive to brands. 90% of marketers who use Influencer marketing are convinced that it is very successful. Why? Influencers deliver 11 times ROI over usual digital channels.
At the same time, influencers will likely become more selective about who they decide to work with given the increasing need for transparency from users.
Trend #3: Live Streaming
Last year, the first trend I talked about was Video. By 2020, that's right in just two years, research says video will make up 80% of consumer internet traffic.
YouTube is, obviously, the 800 pound Gorilla when it comes to video with over 500 million hours of video watched each day!
2017 saw not only the explosion of Video but also Live Streaming. Facebook videos receive 135% more organic views in comparison to photos.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others offer in-app live streaming to create more user engagement. Why engagement? By the very nature of live streaming, anyone seeing it has to be live to see it.
However, maintaining interest is a whole another game. It is expected that more brands will want to leverage live streaming video into their brand marketing plans as better smartphones and higher technology means better experiences are going ahead.
Trend #4: Chatbots
A chatbot is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Already, there are over 100,000 monthly active bots on Facebook Messenger. Gartner Research says that by 2020, 30% of our chats will be through chatbots.
Chatbots on Facebook Messenger have been shown to increase organizational productivity by up to 3.5 times.
Who do you think has embraced Chatbots? That's right, millennials. Over 60% say they already used chatbots and 71% say they would like to try a chatbot experience from brands.
Brands, anyone listening?
You may think that bots are robots sounding like, er, robots. Wrong. With machine learning, they are given human-like conversational skills. Brands can customize the bots to reflect the brand personality and send personalized messages to customers.
Most importantly, in a world where the call center is sounding more like robots, Bots give the rare opportunity to give a human touch to customer service. Ironic, isn't it?
Trend #5: Social Listening
It's the science of tracking user conversations that involve specific phrases, words or brands. Then you strong together those words or phrases to find opportunities to create content tailored for your users.
It's not just seeing who's commenting on your new Facebook post. Social listening tools allow brands to synthesize their user's digital footprints. This listening helps in dynamically tracking brand health, develop tailored marketing campaigns and significantly provide outstanding brand experiences.
Why should you care?
First, Consumers have become more vocal about brand experiences and use video and twitter with devastating effect. Having Social listening is like having a SWAT team which can respond to crisis moments immediately but with a caring and gentle touch.
Secondly, with Content Explosion and overload, designing content tailored to what the users emotionally connect with is the only way out.
There you are. 5 Trends. Focus on them and ride them to your success.