Social media has established itself as one of the fastest moving media platforms. In 2016 we saw how easy it is for new social channels (like Peach) to rise-and-fall within a matter of moments.
In 2017 many brands will be increasing their social media budget. This puts greater pressure on marketers to invest in the correct tactics and prove ROI.
While there are many emerging trends for brands to bet on, we’ve picked three that could substantially impact social media marketing.
Live social video was initially popularised by Periscope and Meerkat in 2015. However, only recently has it blossomed.
Similar to Peach, Meerkat was short-lived. However, after being bought by Twitter, Periscope has been able to thrive. Last year we saw the importance of Periscope as Twitter began integrating it’s features into the fabric of their app.
Even more significant was the launch of both Facebook Live and YouTube Live. As two of the most popular social networks, Facebook and YouTube have bet on live streaming being a desirable tactic for marketers. As has Instagram, who just recently began rolling out their own live feature across the globe.
Video as a whole is estimated to account for 82% of global internet traffic by 2020. However, live video is getting on average 3x the volume of engagements than pre-recorded content. This demonstrates a desire for a greater sense of authenticity and immediacy in video content.
Influencer marketing has become an increasingly popular tactic for brands to adopt. By transferring the concept of celebrity endorsements into the blogosphere, brands have been able to exploit high-ranking social users who have a loyal fanbase.
However, while Zoella, PewDiePie and Essie Button may have a wide reach, they have been increasingly charging brands more for their service. With this increased expenditure, brands are harder pushed to prove ROI.
As such, the time is now to shift focus to micro-influencers. These individuals often have a intensely active and niche audience. They also embody a sense of authenticity that many high-tier influencers have arguably lost.
Due to having a smaller following (approx. 10,000 - 100,000 on a particular channel), micro-influencers are often inexpensive and more cost effective than their high-tier counterparts. Furthermore, as they often have specific interests and hobbies, brands can optimise them to target a precise audience.
Through a carefully constructed influencer campaign, brands can position themselves at the heart of a close-knit community.
The question of whether social media is an effective eCommerce platform continues to plague marketers.
However, social networking services are now learning from past mistakes and are introducing improved social commerce functions.
Facebook have expanded the peer-to-peer payment functions they introduced into Messenger in 2015. Brands will now be able to use chatbots via Facebook Messenger to automise the purchasing process. The use of bots and messaging apps for eCommerce will evolve further with new opportunities from WhatsApp and WeChat.
Elsewhere, both Pinterest and Instagram have upped their commerce capabilities. Pinterest has accomplished this by launching shoppable pins. Similarly, Instagram has begun testing shoppable tags - a feature which will allow brands to drive traffic to a product page directly from an image.
If these companies continue to progress in this manner, then the role of social in the purchasing stage of the customer journey will undoubtedly increase in significance.