Social media is constantly evolving as audiences become increasingly accustomed to building networks and sharing content. The companies already involved in this ever-changing digital world are constantly striving to keep up with user trends, while many new businesses wouldn’t survive without the communication and marketing opportunities presented by the likes of Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and Snapchat.
With Adobe predicting companies will spend $41 billion on social media advertising this year, here are nine social media trends to watch out for in 2017:
- Social messaging. Posting content on Facebook or Twitter is being replaced with app-powered successors to the 1990s’ SMS phenomenon. Messaging services like Viber and WhatsApp have huge numbers of subscribers, and one-on-one communication is being embraced by companies to develop more personal relationships with customers.
- Augmented reality. Heralding the ‘year of VR’ has become a cliché, but the breakout success story of 2016 was Pokémon Go’s augmented reality app. Retailers are likely to be at the forefront of AR advances, as increasingly powerful handsets enable them to deliver immersive experiences to consumers who want more than photos and text.
- Live streaming. The fact that photo-sharing platform Instagram is heavily pushing live video reflects how YouTube’s mini-movie principles are becoming widely adopted social media trends. Platforms like Periscope and Meerkat offer immersive content that is growing in popularity thanks to its unedited realism and now-or-never allure.
- Fighting fake news. With growing threats of state-imposed fines for fake news carriers, the social media giants are belatedly accepting their role as proxy news agencies. As audiences demand more accuracy and honesty, expect solutions from ‘fake’ or ‘dislike’ buttons to algorithmic attempts at identifying false stories.
- Ephemeral content. You either ‘get’ Snapchat’s self-deleting messages or you don’t. While it’s of marginal benefit for marketing campaigns, disappearing content is likely to grow in popularity this year as other platforms adopt it. It offers privacy and adds a sense of urgency, dovetailing with social media trends and encouraging ad-hoc sales.
- Mobile-first design. With Google developing a mobile-first web index and the majority of internet traffic now carried via smartphones and tablets, social media is evolving from desktops towards mobile devices. For evidence of mobile’s dominance, consider how Instagram’s desktop interface doesn’t even permit photo uploads.
- Chatbots. Next time you send a live message to a call center advisor, you might be talking to a robot. Chatbots are AI algorithms pre-programmed to resolve standard queries in plain English, while delegating more complex issues to a person. Like Siri and Alexa, these self-service software platforms offer instant assistance at all hours.
- Native adverts. Sponsored content and timeline advertising is already with us, and it’s going to grow as Snapchat and Instagram go up against social media trendsetters Facebook and Twitter. This is especially significant as ad-blocking software and audience cynicism continue to erode the traditional banner/hover/HTML ad markets.
- Social media ecommerce. The social media giants are already offering in-app purchases in an attempt to prevent customers leaving their portals. With the majority of consumers now following brands on social media, and 2FA security building consumer trust, 2017 may see Facebook and Twitter becoming Amazon rivals.
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