When it comes to reinforcing brand awareness, promoting a new product or connecting with existing or potential customers, social media still plays a key role in PR. However in this increasingly noisy online world, making yourself heard has never been harder.
So, what do experts suggest lies ahead for savvy businesses using social media in 2018? We look at a handful of the top predictions:
1. Keep telling your Stories
Real-time, ‘ephemeral’ content is massive – and brands look set to continue their love affair with disposable engagement. Think ‘Stories’ on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat – content shared for just 24-hours, yet with lasting brand impact.
A more authentic way to draw your audience in, followers know that this content is temporary – so they have to react to quickly or miss out. So by making sure your relevant Stories appear at the top of the feed on a regular basis, your brand is more likely to stay at the forefront of followers’ minds.
Such is the perceived power of Stories, that many brands are now adopting a stand-alone strategy for them – crafting high quality transient content that tells their brand story in a powerful and engaging way.
2. Raise the bar with Augmented Reality
As mobile devices become more and more geared up to Augmented Reality (or AR), it seems obvious that social channels will look for ways to build AR into their platforms, too.
The use of AR gives brands an even more interactive way to connect with their target audience. Allowing you to visualise a piece of furniture in your home, or projecting yourself into another world, for example. Snapchat was the first social network to explore AR, and Facebook has already developed AR-based advertising – it’s not surprising that experts predict that other platforms will jump on board.
Last year’s fad for face filters (Artificial Intelligence lenses) isn’t going away either. And where Snapchat led the way with allowing advertisers to customise face filters, others are sure to follow.
3. Influencers make way for experts
Bloggers and influencers are omnipresent on social platforms. And their success has been huge. But have they had their day? It’s predicted that real ‘experts’ will begin to replace the influencers, who have flooded the market and rendered their opinion less meaningful.
But as a brand, it will be essential to really get to know who your audience trusts and whose opinion they value. This will pay dividends when it comes to building relationships with the celebrities or experts you want to be your brand ambassadors.
4. Value your video
In 2017, 90% of all content shared by users on social media was video. But it’s not just the big thing in entertainment - in-stream video advertising also looks set to grow this year.
It needs to be short and snappy to grab attention: Three seconds is all you’ve got to capture your audience. Soon pretty much all the content will be video, so make sure your strategy focuses on high-quality output - research and test what your target consumers like for maximum impact.
And remember - 'design for sound off, delight with sound on' – some people will always watch with the sound off, but increasingly sound will be crucial for the best levels of engagement.
These are just a few ways social media is moving on. With innovations happening all the time, it’s important for your business to stay up-to-date with the trends. Keep a close eye on the direction the platforms are moving in, and watch how consumers engage with these powerful channels. By equipping yourself with this knowledge, you can focus your efforts on the features that look set to make the biggest splash.