How do you plan on tackling social media this year? How do you plan on reaching your target audience? Is your social strategy up to scratch and are you cutting through your competition?
I’ve listed out my top five social media trend predictions for 2018 – this isn’t a definitive list but the things that I think are going to matter the most in the year ahead!
Augmented reality will finally take off.
About five years ago, Google came out with a pair of glasses—Google Glass—that promised to bring augmented reality (AR) to the mainstream and change how we live and interact with each other. It was a flop and I for one wasted quite a large amount of money on another piece of tech that is now cluttering up my home! However, time are changing and multiple companies—including Facebook, Google, and Snap—are competing to enter or re-enter the AR ring.
After a handful of highly successful AR apps, rising sales of VR headsets, and greater technological sophistication (including faster internet speeds and better visual rendering), 2018 could finally be the year that AR takes off. If it does, and stays in the mainstream, you can bet that social media will be one of the most popular applications for the technology, bringing people together over vast distances, and providing an entirely new UI for social interactions.
The brands that adopt AI as part of their social and digital strategy first are sure to lead the way in engaging consumers and adding to our ever changing consumer journeys.
Live streaming will continue its explosive rise in popularity.
You could make the argument that live streaming dominated 2017; about 80 percent of consumers would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82 percent would prefer live video to written social media updates.
Live streaming statistics exploded in 2017, thanks in part to all the social platforms and other companies supporting the format. But 2018 will be an even bigger year, now that both audiences and brands have settled into the format. This is no longer a cool new way to interact with audiences—it’s an expectation for your brand – the key is going to be how this is used as part of an overall funnel. Historically live streaming has had great success in supporting wider brand awareness, now I expect to see it used further down the sales funnel, perhaps in support of conversion rate optimisation and click to commerce!
Gamification will extend to social media apps.
Users love to interact with each other, but they also love game-like experiences—and because many companies have generated significant revenue from microtransactions and immersive gaming experiences, it’s only a matter of time before we see an app that tries to blend social media and gaming more organically. Time will tell what kind of app could result from this hybridisation, but it’s likely going to make a significant impact in 2018.
Brand fatigue will force changes to the current social media formula.
In 2017, there were more than 50 million small businesses using social media pages to interact with their customers. I cannot explain the amount of times I scrolled through my newsfeed only to see brand after brand based content – where did all my friends go?
Social media is incredibly popular for a reason, but an increased volume of businesses/brands is also leading to an increased presence of brand-written content. This is already leading to some signs of brand fatigue, making consumers less likely to engage with sponsored or branded content than content from independent sources. That’s going to put more pressure on brands to make better, more independently verifiable sources, its not just about thumb stopping content anymore!
Local and personal experiences will sharply increase in popularity.
Partially as an extension of the brand fatigue, 2018 will be a year for more local and personal experiences. With Google putting a higher emphasis on search results for local companies, and online consumers wanting more local, interpersonal interactions, I expect to see an increase in the number of local business owners reaching out to individuals, and doing more to engage with their respective communities. This is going to be a benefit for both entrepreneurs and consumers, as well as the communities in which they reside.
Micro targeting, hyper targeting, geo targeting – whatever label you want to put on the door – brands need to get smart and get relevant!
Are these trends going to completely change how brands and consumers use social media? I doubt it, but with the rate of social adoption in Malaysia at an all time high I am pretty confident that we are in for one interesting year.
If you want to remain competitive in the world of social media marketing, and prevent your competitors from getting ahead of you, stay tuned to the latest changes, and don’t hesitate to update your brand strategy to fit new trends, expectations, and opportunities, don’t get left behind!