Currently, over 2.5 billion people worldwide are actively using social media and this number is increasing, at the rate of 9% per year.
Their battle for our attention has grown ever fiercer, as the amount of money and resources social networks have spent has risen to a whopping $10.9 billion. This is a little over 55% increase in the last year’s expenses, which were around $7 billion.
The reach of social networks is projected to rise over the years, and being aware of the social media trends, which we will be discussing in this article, has become a real necessity for businesses who want to stay ahead of the competition.
Social media’s giants unyielding rise to power
According to an article published in The Telegraph, the average user spends around 25% of their online time using social media.
The social media giants want us to spend more time using their networks instead of the competition’s, or even our own blogs and websites.
As the number of active users grows and we spend an ever-increasing number of hours on social media, it’s safe to assume that their reach can only grow over the following period of time.
Experts predict that the big companies will focus more on disrupting the flow of information in order to put the average content creator out of business. This is going to be achieved best by using artificial intelligence, improved algorithms, bots and even real people, all under the veil of clutter reduction and showing the users only what’s “important”.
Google has been doing it for some time now, by serving content which is in compliance with their rules and regulations and Facebook already decides which content will be reaching you in its newsfeed.
Fight against the fake news epidemic
The topic of fake news has marked the end of 2016, particularly for Facebook, as they have faced the full force of the public backlash.
Social media networks provide an enormous amplification to the content they serve, so tackling the issues of fake claims, facts and news will become a real priority in 2017.
Although Google has already done some work trying to combat the problem by changing their algorithms to focus more on content accuracy, the issue of false information amplification will surely be in the spotlight in the following year.
Staying vigilant and regularly monitoring the online news outlets and social medias for fake information that could negatively affect a brand or business is imperative.
The best way to do that is to have the marketers and social platforms verity every information and news piece before it gets shared, figure out the repercussions for spreading said news and information and to directly refuse to deal with and to work with those who continually spread false info. This isn’t only a prediction for social media, but also for all media and news outlets around the world.
The inevitable rise of social messaging
WhatsApp hit the 1 billion users mark back in February of 2016. This means that the social messaging app now has more users than the largest social network.
Even though companies have channeled their efforts through social networks, it’s becoming more obvious that this focus will shift towards social messaging apps.
This is due to the fact that these apps have a really wide audience in all corners of the world and brands will likely be taking the advantage of such a large audience to push their products and services.
Target messaging using smart technological innovations
As the number of people who use social media grows, so do the levels of informational noise on social media. It makes it harder for brand and business messages to reach their target audience.
This will result in a bigger demand for targeted messages, which can only be accomplished using improved social media strategies and by integrating smart technologies.
We’ll see an increase of use of APIs and dedicated services to integrate the social media marketing automation and prospecting, customer relationship management and ad platforms used for retargeting purposes.
New and improved marketing strategies
The trend of spending large amounts of money on individuals with a large social media following is coming to an end. It’s expected that their place will be filled with smaller influencers which can actually help them reach their target audience and meet their specific objectives.
This is especially crucial for SEO practices, as targeting big shot Instagrammers and Snapchaters is actually far less effective than focusing on low-profile bloggers with a dedicated following.
Forming mutually –beneficial, long-term relationships with brand advocates has a lot more potential for revenue than the traditional, financially oriented influencer relationships that are currently being used.
Use of employees and brand and business marketing
Another trend we’ve been witnessing as of late, and we’ll definitely continue to witness in future is the use of employees as a part of brand marketing.
Most tech companies encourage their workers to share business updates and promotions. This is a logical step, once you consider that those employees already have a following on social media, in the form of colleagues, friends and family members.
We’ll see more tools being used to additionally utilize the workforce and turn it into a group of social advocates and promoters.
Advancement of visual content
Although written type of content isn’t going anywhere soon, it’s slowly becoming a commodity for big brands and businesses. This is because they often focus on quantity instead of the quality of said content.
However, visual type of content, such as custom images and videos are certainly not a commodity and brands will certainly invest more of their time and resources into the production of visually-pleasing, quality content.
Whether it’s high-budget videos, live streams or even campaigns generated by the users themselves, we’ll definitely see an increase of the visual type of content in 2017.
Virtual reality and social media
In 2016, augmented, mixed and virtual reality has taken the entire world by storm. Widespread adoption of virtual reality and its subsequent integration into social media is only the logical step forward in the evolution of social networking experience.
Have in mind that in 2016, Facebook has acquired Oculus, a startup VR in an effort to extend the reach of social media into virtual space, a move which will likely be adopted by other social media giants in the not so distant future.
Engaging the audience in real time
One of the key aspects that have grown through and with social media is the capability of running efficient client support programs.
The average user has an innate expectation that their favorite brand or business has a dedicated team of professionals ready to resolve their issues or answer any question they have. For example, over 70% of active Twitter users expect quick responses from the brands they’re following.
This will lead to an increase in demand for cross-platform customer support teams ready to respond to the rising number of daily social media queries. It’s safe to assume that eventually, all brands and businesses will completely shift their customer support services onto their social media accounts.
Use of chatbots
In April 2016, Mark Zuckerberg has announced that all Facebook users could use chatbots in the Messenger app. Soon after that announcement, Mastercard has allowed its users to view and manage their accounts and even shop online with the use of Messenger chatbots.
Even Google realizes the importance of chatbots, having one integrated into their messaging app, and reports state that they plan to completely integrate them into their Android mobile platform.
This all has to do with the users wanting an immediate response to their inquiries, but until now, businesses often took their sweet time replying. With chatbots, the task of responding to a growing number of users becomes automated and customer service itself becomes disburdened and a lot more efficient.
The obvious trend in 2017 is social networking giants such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat becoming an integral part of our everyday life.
Whether it’s browsing for content, socializing with friends and colleagues, or even online shopping, brands and businesses will rely heavily on the social media industry to provide users with their products and services.
Whether they will succeed in their intent, or simply spam the living hell out of our social media experience, remains to be seen.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.