8 Really, Really, REALLY Big Social Media Trends for 2018

You don’t have to look too far to find at least a dozen articles by social media sages touting their predictions about the hottest social media trends for 2017. How many of those held true this year and which ones will carry their ‘hotness’ into 2018? Even though we’re still a few months away from cracking open the champagne, we thought we would get a jump start on our own prophecies, projections, predictions, and prognostications.  Here’s a list of trends we think will be uber-important in 2018.

Video will be BIG

Really big. Bigger than anything you’ve ever seen, I can tell you!

Don’t take our word for it. Here’s what Wyzowl’s 2017 video marketing survey revealed:

  • 43% of marketers planned to use live video content in 2017—a big jump from the 14% who experimented with it in 2016.
  • 83% of businesses believe that video gives them a good ROI.
  • 97% of businesses said that their explainer video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service.
  • 91% of consumers have watched an explainer video to learn about a product or service.
  • 78% of businesses that have used Facebook Live and said it was an effective marketing tool.
  • 82% of consumers have been encouraged to take action after watching a business’ marketing video.

Companies have also come to realize that live video is ideal for customer service. Many are hosting Q&A sessions, tutorials, and product demos. These sessions can boost engagement because viewers have to opportunity to interact directly with the business. Although video will be big, it will also be short…95% of the consumers in Wyzowl’s survey said a video should be less than two minutes long.

All Content Must be Optimized for Mobile

Apparently, nobody stays home anymore.

 We’ve been saying it for years, and most businesses have already optimized their websites for mobile users. But that’s not enough. ALL content must be mobile-friendly. According to Wyzowl, 90% of consumers now look at content on their mobile devices. According to Google, more searches are now performed on mobile than on desktop, and www.emarketer.com reports that 59.4% of US Facebook users will access Facebook solely via mobile device by 2020. With that in mind:

  • Whenever possible, make your content scrollable so that readers do not have to endure ‘death by a thousand clicks’ to reach your messages
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs that readers can digest quickly
  • Use a responsive template for everything, even emails
  • Use high-resolution, high-quality images that will not lose detail even when shrunk to mobile size
  • Make sure any on-screen buttons are easy to spot and easy to use

Older Audiences are Embracing Social Media

Even grandpa uses hashtags (#BabyBoomer). 

 Social media isn’t just for Millennials anymore. By 2020, 54.1% of social media users will be at least 35 years old, according to emarketer.com. That’s an increase from 52.8% in 2016. Baby Boomers—those born between 1945 and 1962—are also using social media to find and keep in touch with family and friends. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center:

  • 34% of Americans ages 65 and up say they ever use social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter—a seven-point increase from 2013
  • More than four-in-ten (45%) seniors under the age of 75 say they ever use social networking sites, compared with 20% of those ages 75 and older.
  • Social networking use is also relatively common among those who have at least some college experience and those whose annual household income is $50,000 or more.

We believe social media will be an increasingly important tool to reach seniors, who, by some estimates, have the highest level of disposable income to spend on products and services.

Social Listening and Social Monitoring—and Knowing the Difference

Social media listening has been a HOT topic this year and we don’t see any cooldown for 2018, but the key is to clearly understand the difference between listening and monitoring. Often confused, these are two separate activities whose purposes and processes are each unique but whose data should be combined and leveraged for maximum effectiveness.

Activity Description Business Value Response Type
Social listening Tracks conversations revolving around specific phrases, words, or brands; requires analysis Discover trends, problems, opportunities and differentiate isolated incidents/transactions. Looks at the big picture. Proactive; evaluate the customer experience
Social monitoring Tracks every social mention and action Take immediate action or respond to positive and negative mentions Reactive – evaluates the customer transaction

It’s important to realize that neither one of these activities is more important the other; both are critical for any social media strategy since each provides different insights. For example, with more than 25 billion Tweets being pushed out every day, it’s difficult for a company to analyze every single monitored transaction. What’s more, focusing on individual Tweets—or Facebook postings, Instagrams or Snapchats—makes it impossible to recognize larger trends.

Personalized Content is King

Are you talking to ME?

If you’ve ever received a “Recommendations for You” pitch from Amazon.com, you’re familiar with content personalization. Two years ago, market researcher Gartner published a statistic that said by 2018, companies that have “fully invested in all types of personalization” will outsell companies that have not by 20 percent. That’s a statistic that could give your company a competitive edge. And a Demand Metric study from 2016 found that 80 percent of marketers say personalized content is more effective than “unpersonalized” content.

One more thing: don’t assume that your audience is the same on all social media platforms. You might be talking to stop assuming our audience is the same on all social channels, or that a particular audience is using only certain apps. For example, many adults, as well as teens, use WhatsApp. The statistics below from the Children’s Hospital of Colorado show how many social channels children and teens use. And new apps are popping up every day. Think WeChat and Kik.

Chatbots for Real-Time Customer Engagement

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

 You may think that chatbots are a 21st-century innovation. In fact, the idea began with World War II codebreaker, computer scientist and mathematician  Alan Turing, whose life was explored in the 2014 movie, The Imitation Game. Back in 1950, he proposed what is now called the Turing test, which validates the ability of a computer program to impersonate a human on the basis of a real-time conversation between the program and a real human.

Today, chatbots are part of virtual assistants such as Google Assistant and are accessed via many organizations’ apps, websites, and on instant messaging platforms. They are being used more frequently for customer service applications and customer relationship management (CRM).  So far, there are around 12,000 bots created on the Facebook Messenger platform alone, and that’s just the beginning.

survey made by HeyWire Business revealed that:

  • 53 % of consumers ages 18-34 said that they’d prefer to use electronic media – email, web chat, text or social – instead of the phone for customer support
  • 79% are frustrated with their available customer support options
  • 31 % said it was important for text to be an available support option

Successful bots add value and can vastly improve the customer experience. If you’re planning to get in on this growing trend, here are a few recommendations:

  • Develop a chatbot content strategy that aligns with your business goals; state how you will measure effectiveness and ROI
  • Enhance, don’t replace the human experience; make it easy for customers to switch to a live representative
  • Be sure that customers know and understand that they are interacting with an automated tool. That said, make your bots friendly, personal and inviting
  • Begin every interaction with a friendly greeting
  • Create and use automated experiences for faster resolutions

Above all, be sure your chatbot is simple, uncomplicated, and serves your customers’ needs.

Cultivate Influencers

Persuasion in 140 characters or less. 

Leadership experts from Dale Carnegie to Stephen Covey and John Maxwell have preached about the importance—and power—of influence. In social media, an influencer is someone who has established credibility in a specific industry or on a specific topic and has access to a large audience that can be persuaded by virtue of the influencer’s authenticity. Successful businesses understand and cultivate influencers because of their impact on brand loyalty and purchase decisions.

In fact, research from Twitter shows that 49 percent of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers, and 20 percent said that a Tweet from an influencer inspired them to share their own product recommendation. Even more important for marketers, nearly 40 percent of Twitter users said they had made a purchase as a direct result of an influencer’s Tweet. And on Instagram, the amount brands are spending with influencers is over $1 billion per year, according to a study from Mediakix.

Using social media influencers in your marketing is the practice of building relationships with those who can build relationships for you and extend your brand. This can take place through the influencer’s blogs and social media networks, giving you access to channels you could not reach on your own.

Embrace Automation

Your job is not being taken over by a robot. 

If you plan to have a vigorous social media strategy, consider implementing marketing/social media tools that automate postings while also organizing listening and monitoring data. The most well-known of these tools include HubSpot, Hootsuite, Buffer, SproutSocial, Social Oomph and Social Flow. Marketing automation isn’t really new, nor is it a ‘trend’ per se but we’re including it here because of its importance and value. For example, according to statistics gathered by emailmonday.com:

  • On average 51% of companies are currently using marketing automation; more than half of B2B companies (58%) plan to adopt the technology
  • 91% of the most successful users agree that marketing automation is “very important” to the overall success of their marketing across channels
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of the “Very successful” use their marketing automation systems extensively, while more than a third (37%) achieved best-in-class status with limited use
  • Nearly two-thirds of companies surveyed (63%) expect to realize the benefits of their marketing automation system within six months of implementation

Companies that use marketing automation say these tools enable them to better target customers and prospects, reduce human error, improve the customer experience, and allow them to focus on new/more exciting projects by automating repetitive tasks.

If you’re planning to implement marketing automation as part of your social media strategy, heed these tips from Spokal:

  1. Understand when it is (and isn’t) appropriate to automate your social media presence
  2. Choose the right social media automation tools
  3. Find your ideal social media automation schedule
  4. Staying tuned into the conversation
  5. Test, test, test—your software, your campaigns, and your strategy

Now that we’ve told you what WE think will be important next year, we’d love to hear from YOU! Agree, disagree—tell us we’re brilliant or that we’ve missed the boat. What are the trends YOU think will be hot in 2018?