One of my favorite Christmas gifts as a kid was The Magic 8 Ball. You would ask a questions, turn it over and get an authoritative answer that was vague enough to sound plausible.
Now that the decorations have been put away, the relatives are back home, and we’ve had time to catch our collective breath, I peered into my Virtual 8 Ball to see what Social Media trends we should be taking advantage of in the coming months?
Content is King-er — Content marketing came into its own last year, look for more so in the year ahead. Consumers will continue to be more interested in a company’s culture than the quality of its product or service. Branding stories based on shared values will be essential in building long-term relationships with users/customers.
Use what you know about your customers to serve up targeted content that is of particular interest to them. Ecology, diversity, family, education — appeal to the issues that resonate with your target audience.
Real time will get “realer” — Expect to see more “life as it happens” campaigns. In addition to the continued popularity of Instagram, we’ll be seeing more viral videos. Snapchat and Twitter’s acquisition of Periscope show that the on-the-go, real-time sharing of video and content is going to get faster and better. Expect to see “realty” campaigns as more businesses integrate viral video into their marketing mix, like the ones we saw from Red Bull, EA Sports and Dunkin’ Doughnuts.
Paid Media — Twitter now Pinterest started offering paid advertising. As social media channels continue to try to monetize, the amount of ads will increase. They are getting smarter about the ads and where they display. Big data allows them to accurately target ads to user interests. On the downside they may be getting a little intrusive.
E-commerce — Buy Buttons are turning up everywhere signaling the entry of social media to the e-commerce space. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and especially Pinterest, which as long been a driver of traffic to e-commerce sites, have added buy features to their platforms.
Privacy concerns will continue to rise — The fall-out from the Ashley Madison hack has reverberated like the shock waves from the original Big Bang. One of the reasons for SnapChat’s popularity is that the app creates messages with an abbreviated shelf life, offering a more secure and private environment for communication and engagement. Just make sure you don’t ask your users to disclose any private information publicly.
Social networks morph into search engines — Up to 80% of consumers get their information about produce and services from their social media contacts, and make buying decisions based on what they find. Basically they are giving more credence to what they see from their friends and followers. Facebook, Twitter and especially YouTube and Pinterest are have become the places consumer look for gift ideas, special offers and product demos.
Use your social media channels to share discounts, promo codes and feature actual reviews and testimonials from your customers —these “success stories” add value to your brand. Most importantly, partner with social media influencers and brand ambassadors to tap into their network of trusting fans and followers.
2016 is an election year, so be ready for political ads everywhere. — Candidates now recognize that they need to use social media to target key demographics, so, unless you’re unfriending/unfollowing the entire planet, prepare for an onslaught of political ads on your social media channels.