Another year has come and gone and as sure as the sun shines, social media continues its constant state of change and growth. Every year we survey the social media scene and look ahead for trends, innovations and areas for business owners to set their sights on.
Last year, I picked out a couple social media trends to keep an eye on. So, I got to thinking, “How did I do?”
Let’s take a look back on how my picks for last year shaped up and then set our sights on the new horizon of 2018.
Facebook Live vs Instagram Video
In 2017, I saw live video continuing to grow and grow as Instagram got into the live video game. Facebook Live continued to prove itself as a useful tool for businesses. Businesses taking part in conventions, trade shows, grand openings, press conferences, or similar live events found ways to utilize Facebook Live as a way to promote and interact with fans and attendees. With Facebook doubling down on video (we’ll get into that later) you shouldn’t anticipate Facebook Live falling off or going away anytime soon.
Instagram also tossed its hat in the live video ring in 2017, with much less success. While Instagram live video can be utilized for many of the same purposes, its potential is limited as it is a much more niche social platform. Let’s face it, just about every business can find success on Facebook. Instagram is not a slam dunk for everyone.
Instagram definitely appeals to much more visual-based businesses, like food or interior design. On top of that, Instagram’s live videos are erased immediately after the broadcast ends while Facebook Live videos can be re-purposed and re-used. Late in 2017, however, Instagram announced duo live streaming which could prove to be an interesting development to keep an eye on.
Google, trying to find an alternative to G+, the social media equivalent to the red-headed step-child, rolled out YouTube Community in 2017. This app was given to a few hand-selected content creators and allows creators and their fans to directly interact by uploading text posts, GIFs, and other content that followers could like, dislike, comment on, or share. It had a pretty positive reception and in November it was announced that the YouTube Community would be available to a much wider audience.
The only caveat? Your channel has to have 10,000 subscribers to be eligible. While this tool showed initial potential, this development makes it unlikely that business owners on a large scale will be able to utilize it. Unless, of course, you happen to have 10,000 subscribers to your channel.
2018 Social Media Trends
All in on video
Video was a big part of 2017 social media and the trend continues into 2018. Take a scroll through your Facebook feed and you’ll see now more than ever, videos are taking the top spot in priority. Why? Not only is it well-documented that the current Facebook algorithm is providing more love for video, but on a more basic level… people just freaking love little 15-30 second videos!
But it’s not just video: it’s video uploaded directly to Facebook. Is Facebook trying to rival YouTube as a place for creating and posting video content? Between this and the continuing success of Facebook Live, you better believe it. Because of the auto-play function that applies to videos uploaded to Facebook, not only will this kind of content show up on consumer timelines more frequently but will stand a better chance of engaging them and capturing their attention.
So, whether businesses begin to invest more in their own video creation or piggyback and share other’s content (a great way to cross promote and increase exposure) 2018 is going to be the year of video.
A threat to business Facebook feeds looms on the horizon. Facebook has begun a soft-launch of a new format that includes two separate feeds: one for friends and family and one for businesses. If this function becomes wide spread, it means that unless a consumer clicks over to the other feed, they won’t see a steady stream of business page generated content. And unfortunately, if you put yourself in the shoes of your average consumer, who is really going to be clicking over as often?
Since this announcement, the pressure has been on to find a way to adapt to the possible change. Experimenting with different work-arounds to get followers content on a regular basis is going to be important. While it’s a scary proposition, there are ways to prepare that will likely be the biggest social media trends in 2018.
We are going to see a rash of content creation that is designed to be “shareable.” Video will of course play a big part in this, but also human-interest content like employee bios, office photos, and “behind-the-scenes” content. If this kind of content is seen and shared by one person, it will then appear on the “friends and family” timeline, crossing through the barrier. Businesses would be wise to begin including this sort of content generation into their social media strategy.
Reaching customers through Messenger
Facebook Messenger has long been a tool used by consumers, but has yet to be tapped for use by businesses. With Messenger calculating up to 2 billion messages sent each month and the fact that around 56% of Facebook users would rather text than call, the potential is definitely there. Now, it appears Facebook is trying to make Messenger a more viable tool for businesses.
Ads can be designed to be placed in Messenger, similarly to how they would normally appear in a consumer’s timeline. Messenger can also now be used as a direct source for purchasing or ordering products. Messenger is also beta testing a website plugin that creates a direct messaging system that sends messages through Messenger and can provide visitors with immediate feedback as opposed to filling out a contact form.
For businesses that deal in ecommerce that are looking for better ways to provide customer service or just want to reach their customers in a new way, Facebook Messenger is a great tool to explore.
These are just a few of the interesting things that I’m keeping an eye on in 2018. What social media trends do you see developing this year?