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The 5 biggest social media trends for 2018

As we look to the year ahead, it’s clear that social media will continue to dominate in 2018.

Consumers are spending more time on social media and quickly adopting new features on the platforms – they’re tuning into live broadcasts, researching products, interacting with bots and watching an increasing number of mobile videos.

Amber Naslund, Senior Director of Industry Leadership at Hootsuite, recently shared some insights into social media trends predicted for 2018.

These are the five key trends:

1. Social ROI will evolve

This year will see a shift away from short-sighted vanity metrics. Rather than traditionally using social media for top-of-funnel engagement, organisations will explore the value of social media in other phases of the customer journey.

In addition to brand awareness, social media will allow organisations to achieve business objectives like lowering customer service costs, tracking changes in brand perception, mitigating risk, attracting talent, and using social media insights to analyse supply chain.

Recommendations: Aim at your easiest target first – invest first in what you can measure, then move onto more complex social ROI tracking and analysis. Also, nail the basics with UTM codes – use tracking codes that can measure your activity, allowing you to reduce time spent on manually tracking social ROI.

2. Mobile will drive social TV growth

As mobile usage increases, so too will video content on social media platforms. Smartphones, shorter attention spans, binge-watching, and the thrill of novelty will accelerate video consumption. Digital is also predicted to overtake traditional TV advertising spend.

In 2018, social media platforms will encourage brands to become broadcasters and independent media networks of their own, forging the path for new types of entertainment available exclusively on social platforms.

We’ve already seen social networks heavily shifting towards video and TV-style content – Snapchat launched premium partnerships with their Discover feature, Facebook has invested $1 billion in their Watch tab and launched new multi-broadcasting features for Facebook Live broadcasts, and Twitter has introduced personalised video recommendations. The emphasis on video is clear.

Recommendations: Social video needs to advance your marketing strategy. Remember, video is a tactic, not a strategy. Also, connect your video metrics to real business outcomes to measure its success.

“As more consumers watch videos on mobile devices, social networks offer new opportunities to augment traditional TV content and create new forms of entertainment and news programming.” – Amber Naslund.

3. Peer influence will rise

Real customer communities, micro influencers and ‘people like me’ (peers) will take centre stage as consumer trust in authority continues to decline.

Peers (including friends, family, bloggers in a person’s community) have become more relevant than academic or technical experts as sources of information for consumers, especially when it comes to making a decision about a product or forming an opinion about a company. As such, people value peer-to-peer recommendations more than ever.

Tech company Apple has taken a community-first approach to Instagram (the account features images and video created by members of the public), blending the lines between product advertising and peer influence.

Recommendations: Think beyond reach and traffic. Set long-terms goals to create real customer and employee advocacy, rather than chasing quick fixes to boost organic traffic. Another tip is to build advocate communities with Facebook Groups – a significant opportunity to boost engagement, study customers in their natural habitat and build real advocacy.

4. Brands will adopt AI

There has been a lot of interest in and adoption of AI (artificial intelligence) but brands need to make sure their AI strategies stay focused on being human, helpful and relevant at scale.

By using both humans and bots, AI will be used to elevate customer service on social media platforms. Messaging apps will become much more personalised channels, AI will make targeting and analytics much more refined and it’ll become easier to segment customers. AI will make social media insights more accessible and understandable to everyday marketers.

Recommendations: Get your own report robot. Narrative Science’s free Quill Engage Google Analytics tool will automatically analyse your traffic in a report written by a robot. Also, consider finding a solution partner that can augment your existing social media strategy (such as customer support on Facebook) with AI technology.

5. Social data will have potential

It’s not easy to unlock social data but there’s a lot of potential if you do. Collecting the data is the easy part, but integrating it with other analytics systems or extracting usable insights requires a lot of work and resources.

Marketers will be able to use true customer intelligence to demonstrate the strategic value of social channels – not just tactical brand awareness or customer service value. Social data will allow marketers to move away from reactive listening to uncovering new sources of business and brand growth.

Recommendations: Learn how to comfortably navigate incomplete or disparate sets of data to extract as many insights as possible so you can make better decisions and guide new strategies. Additionally, think about combining social data with traditional market research. Run a research project, such as identifying new areas of product growth, and combine the data you collect on social channels with traditional surveys, focus groups, and other forms of market research.

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