As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, social media is in constant flux. Technologies and platforms change as quickly as the time it takes our short attention spans to hop over to the newest trend. And in the first month of 2018 we’ve already seen major news about changes to social media that will affect the way marketers are strategizing for months so come. In January, Facebook announced changes to its news feed that will directly affect businesses, leaving many scrambling to rethink their approach to marketing on that platform. And that’s not the only change on the horizon. So buckle up, because businesses will be navigating new and tricky waters when it comes to social marketing this year. And if you aren’t on top of the changing tides, you’ll miss out on a core audience of potential customers. Here are 4 ways social media is changing in 2018.
1. Facebook will focus on meaningful interaction between friends and family
With Facebook’s priorities shifting to more “meaningful” interaction, there will be fewer public posts from business pages showing up in the news feed — which could be a blow to marketers who rely on Facebook for their businesses. Or it could be an opportunity to rethink the way in which businesses are using Facebook. According to Facebook’s Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri, the changes are being made in an effort to encourage active interaction by cutting down on the passive nature of scrolling through feeds. Going forward, marketers will need to put more thought behind creating posts that foster organic conversation and engagement as Facebook cuts down on posts considered to be “engagement bait.”
2. Live video content will dominate
A byproduct of Facebook’s feed changes is that only posts with the greatest engagement will show up in the news feed. There can no longer be a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” mentality when it comes to Facebook, so identifying which posts will garner the most engagement should be the main focus of marketers going forward. But where do you start? Recent statistics show that video is currently a game-changing marketing tool. And it’s a tool marketers should use to their advantage when building engagement on Facebook, where live videos receive six times more engagement than non-live videos. So if it’s not already, live video needs to be at the top of the list for those who consider Facebook an important platform for their business. But Facebook isn’t the only option for live video — YouTube Live, Periscope, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram Live, and Twitch can all make an impact, too. And while statistics show that Facebook continues to hold its throne of King of All Social Media, Instagram — which has 800 million monthly active users, more than Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest combined — is positioning itself to have the greatest potential to be a dominating platform for businesses. So businesses need to identify where their customers are hanging out, and invest the most time and energy into that particular platform.
Live video best practices:
- Announce the live video before it happens — don’t surprise people.
- Create a schedule and stick to it so people know when to expect your videos.
- Encourage engagement. For example, ask for questions from the audience during live demonstrations or Q&As.
3. Messaging apps will become a preferred form of communication
More and more businesses are choosing to communicate directly to customers through messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat. And more and more customers are also choosing the apps as their preferred form of communication. Just think of the messages you receive on your business’s Facebook page. Not long ago, these questions would have come through email or a phone call to your business. But the ease and speed at which these apps allow customers to get the information they need is completely changing the face of customer service. And many marketers are agreeing that in light of Facebook’s recent news feed changes, social marketing is starting to move from social networking to messaging for more instant connection with audiences. So what does this mean for small businesses who rely on social channels such as Facebook for their marketing? Don’t ignore your messages — and respond quickly! Let this sink in: 89% of consumers would like to use messaging apps to communicate with businesses, but only 48% of businesses are able to do so.
4. Influencers marketing will get more selective
If you thought the Social Media Influencer was approaching the end of its time in the spotlight, you were wrong! Influencers continue to drive the conversation on social media, especially Instagram and YouTube. But in 2018, it’s no longer about finding the influencer with the most followers, it’s about finding someone who aligns with your brand and core values. It’s important for businesses to spend time vetting the people they choose to work with, because the last few recent months have been a wake-up call about the importance of knowing who you’re working with, as more and more controversies continue to pop up. And influencer marketing can be even more successful for businesses who target a younger demographic, considering recent statistics such as 70% of teenage YouTube users trust influencers more than traditional celebrities.