The social media industry went through a number of changes in 2016. These included new features, customer preferences, and branding opportunities. These changes will continue to occur at a frenetic pace for the foreseeable future.
It isn’t possible to predict exactly how the industry will evolve but we can say with certainty that the following six social media trends will dominate over the coming months in 2017.
1. Artificial Intelligence Lenses
The rise of Snapchat’s facial filters had led to more interactivity of the network when compared to others. However, competitors are quickly catching up. Key among these is Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook tested facial lenses in 2016 and Instagram launched Instagram Stories. Within two months of Instagram Stories being launched, they were being watched by 18% of the active users daily, 108 million users.
Artificial intelligence and specifically the battle for facial lenses will continue to heat up and will be interesting to watch over the coming months.
As customers become more discerning and hence more demanding, customer service is of major concern to all businesses. Businesses cannot afford to have even the slightest delay in customer service requests.
Chatbots are making the business of managing customer service easier. Facebook Messenger and Slack chatbots are making it easier to reduce response times and increase communication with customers. This is going to be an interesting social media trend to watch in future.
3. Paid Content Trumps Organic
Without question, social media algorithms have made it harder and harder to promote organic content. Marketers have inevitably had to use some kind of content preferential treatment especially with rise of the Instagram algorithm.
Algorithms are created with one purpose in mind, user experience. Users must be happy with what they see on their feeds. This makes it difficult to only publish organic social content.
On the converse, paid content is growing in leaps and bounds. Adobe estimates that social media ad spend will hit and surpass $41 billion by the end of 2017. A lot of emphasis is being put on paid content and is an important trend to watch.
4. Business Features and Analytics
As more businesses continue to embrace social media marketing, there continues to be an increase in demand for business features and analytics.
Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics have been around for a few years now but Instagram launched Business Tools in 2016. The challenge is making sense of data in order to use it in the decision-making process.
About a third of small businesses make use of social media to engage and communicate with customers. Thus, they have a need to find and engage their audiences more effectively. Clear analytics improves decision making.
This trend is expected to continue in the foreseeable future as more and more businesses seek tools that help them improve their social media marketing efforts.
5. Automation is being shunned
This may sound like a contradiction, given that we have already stated that chatbots will be big in future.
However, chatbots are the exception it comes to automation. Marketers are increasingly avoiding automating other elements of social media marketing due to the real risk of PR blunders and embarrassment.
Even chatbots are limited to initial generic responses before a customer service executive can provide a more detailed and personal response.
6. Social Commerce
Trends indicate that there is a rise on social shopping and instant purchases. Instagram has this feature. In fact, research by Sprout Social indicates that 57% of customers have a high likelihood buying from a brand they follow.
Social media has proven that it can impact buyer’s positively and more businesses are shifting towards social commerce. It will be interesting to see how this evolves over time.
There are many changes taking place in the social media scene. The ground is constantly shifting and businesses have to be ever vigilant to ensure they are not overtaken by events.
What holds true today can easily become obsolete and outdated tomorrow. It is important to reflect on what has happened over the last 12 months.
A lot of changes are expected in the future but it helps to know what worked in the past and what hasn’t so that those lessons can be carried forward.