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These are the social media trends for 2017 you need to know about

What’s in store for social media next year? Here’s a look into the top trends.

Social media networks have been around for just over a decade and the space has changed a lot in that time.

With more than 2.5 billion active social media users around the world, and that number increasing by 9% per year, it’s important to keep in touch with upcoming trends in this space.

According to Ad Age, advertising spend is increasing at an even faster rate, largely due to the growth in mobile usage. In 2015, social media spend grew 55% to $10.9 billion, up from the previous year’s $7 billion.

So, what’s in store for social media networks in the coming year? And what should marketers be thinking about in this rapidly-changing landscape?

In a recent webinar, Hootsuite shared these top 5 trends in social media for 2017:

1. Social media will catch up with search for discovery

This will be a major shift in 2017, and there’s no sign of it slowing down.

Social media is rapidly growing as a discovery and research tool for consumers to find products and buy from brands.

With 98% of digital consumers using social networks, these platforms have become the preferred space where people go to find information.

Cameron Uganec, Senior Director for Growth Marketing and Education at Hootsuite, said consumers were going straight to social media to talk to friends, research products, find brands and even make purchases.

“We’re seeing the decline of traditional websites, as people spend more time on social networks. A lot of this is driven by increasing mobile device usage,” he said.

For example, Vox is now publishing directly to social networks and apps. BuzzFeed has a team figuring out what their company might look like without a website at the centre of their business. Instant articles on Facebook are part of this trend.

The takeaway for marketers? Know your audience. Just because the trend is shifting towards social media, it doesn’t mean you should abandon your SEO and search-friendly audience, such as an older demographic. Focus on credibility on your social media channels and be ready for the growing audience that is seeking out your brand in this space.

2. Social commerce is showing promise

Recent developments are offering new ways to drive revenue from social media. For example, Pinterest is upping their game in offering a platform for people to discover and buy products.

“Pinterest is a discovery platform in the same category as Google. For brands, it’s about re-purposing content from their site and publishing their entire product catalogue as you might a sitemap for Google to aid discovery,” said Michael Yamartino, head of commerce at Pinterest.

Similarly, Facebook messenger can now accept payment from customers via chat, and Instagram’s ‘tap to view’ feature takes users straight to a brand’s online store.

There has been massive growth in this area, and social commerce will no doubt continue to expand in 2017.

Adidas is exploring micro communities on private messaging apps such as WhatsApp

Adidas is exploring micro communities on private messaging apps such as WhatsApp.

3. Dark Social is rising

‘Dark Social’ is known as the social sharing of content that takes place outside of what can be measured by web analytics programs. It means brands and marketers can’t track how their content has been shared or who it has been shared with.

With the rise of private messaging apps and services, the rate of content being shared via these mediums will only increase.

While this trend is challenging the traditional ways of measuring social media’s ROI, there are ways to combat it.

Some brands are tapping into these channels to ensure they can play a part in content shared in this space.

Adidas is exploring micro communities on private messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook messenger and Line. The ‘squads’ on these messaging programs are socially savvy football content creators living in 15 key cities around the world. Each group is managed by an Adidas team, who share exclusive content and new products with the group before it is released publicly on the brand’s Twitter or Facebook channels.

Time Inc. has also found a simple way to track social email shares, such as through a ‘share via email’ button which allows them to track user activity. According to The Light and Dark of Social Sharing report by RadiumOne, Time Inc discovered, in a typical month, there were 18,908 instances of users choosing to copy text from the Marie Claire website and share it with friends via email. This is compared with 1,747 instances of users sharing via Facebook and Twitter. The data reveals that 90% of sharing happens in Dark Social versus 10% on Facebook and Twitter.

4. Video ignites social advertising

Like last year, video continues to steal the show on social media platforms. However, in 2017, social video advertising will be a key strategic focus for brands.

Facebook continues to dominate on the video front, and is increasingly moving toward the silent video trend. This year, Instagram expanded its video options and allowed users to upload 60 second videos and introduced ‘Instagram Stories’. Twitter also released Conversational Ads which include call-to-action buttons and customisable hashtags that encourage user engagement.

Marketers have recognised the value of video on social media networks, too. According to The Future of Digital Video by Trusted Media Brands Inc, 65% of marketers prioritise social video platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter over traditional web video platforms like YouTube and Vevo. Additionally, 89% of marketers are considering using live-stream video advertising in the next year.

If you haven’t been focusing on video, 2017 is the year to do so. Experiment with short and visually engaging clips and create videos to suit the functionalities of specific social media platforms.

5. Organisations turn to connected workforces

It seems social media is finally infiltrating workforces, with everyone from CEOs to mid-level managers and juniors embracing the platforms.

Leaders are now expanding social media to tap into the power of connected workforces, with employee advocacy via social networks becoming more valuable. With 67% of consumers trusting recommendations from family and friends, organisations are now tapping into peer-to-peer influence as a way to extend the reach of their brands through social media.

Organisations are also recognising the value of ‘social selling’ by amplifying the sales people make offline on social media channels.

The key here? Organisations will still need to strive for reliability and resonance. While brands can pay for reach on social media networks, they can’t buy trust among their consumers.

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