They say the only constant is change. In no industry is that more true than social media.
One week, everyone’s pouring buckets of ice over their heads; the next, they’re arguing over the color of the dress (#TeamBlueAndBlack forever). It can be hard to keep up with the constantly changing tools, terms, and technology, but we’ve got your back.
Here’s our take on what’s next in social media trends and what’s officially old news:
Out: “Real-Time” Video
In: Live Video
Ask social media marketers to list the biggest challenges and opportunities of social media, and chances are social’s “always-on” nature would make both lists.
Somewhat ironically, “real-time” has always been understood to have a delay of a few minutes. For years, the best social listening tools have promoted their ability to capture content with only a minute or two of latency.
But now, real-time is being re-defined as social networks are emphasizing live content. 2015 saw the beginning of the live video revolution with the launch of Meerkat and, a few weeks later, Periscope. Neither, however, had the existing user base necessary to push live-streaming into the mainstream. Enter Facebook Live.
Launched April 2016, Facebook Live is quickly becoming the go-to source for news. Facebook has found that people spend 3x longer watching live video than pre-recorded video.
With its potential for powerful, spontaneous connections and two-way conversations, live video is truly the future of broadcasting, and smart marketers are sitting up and taking notice.
Candace Payne’s video of herself trying on this Chewbacca mask went viral on Facebook Live in May 2016, just a few months after the service launched.
Out: Text-Heavy Media
In: Visual Intelligence
Consumers are demonstrating a growing preference to express themselves through images, videos, GIFs, emojis, and virtually any form of non-textual media. Our brains process visual information significantly more efficiently than text-only information.
If you’re relying on social listening and analytics software that only understands text-based data, you might be in trouble. You need a visual listening tool that can mine rich media for insights to help you manage brand reputation, identify risk, and understand the place of your company’s products in the real world.
Out: Social Broadcasting
In: User-Generated Content
The best social brands have a way of creating an authentic voice — even when it’s not theirs. According to Nielsen, consumers are 92% more likely to trust peer recommendations over brand-first content (Tweet this!).
Can you blame them? Consumers aren’t on social media to connect with companies — they’re there to connect with friends, family, and influencers. Pinpointing influencers and surfacing their best content has never been more important to the health of your brand.
Savvy brands are tapping into the vast ocean of user-generated content to discover posts that features their products in the wild, re-purposing that content to reach new audiences without overtly selling and marketing to them.
Furniture company West Elm uses user-generated content, sourced through the hashtag #MyWestElm, on their website to show shoppers how other customers have styled the furniture.
Out: Geographically Generic
In: Social Goes Hyper-Local
What would make you more likely to buy coffee — seeing a Facebook post about pumpkin spiced lattes while sitting at your desk, or that same post popping up right as you’re passing a Starbucks?
Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable sharing their location, knowing that brands are listening and can provide a higher level of support and more relevant marketing when they have a lock on your exact coordinates. There is no shortage of this type of geo-spatial data since most networks offer some form of geo-tagging for posts or a “check-in” for a location.
Brands are starting to merge social media experiences with real-world environments like retail locations, sporting events, concerts, and more. Consumers are now using social as a way to optimize their experience at these events and help brands understand how they can create meaningful interactions.
With a tool like Tracx, you can see where conversations about your product or brand are taking place. In this heat map of mentions of the NFL Redskins within the city of DC, we can see there are more fans on west side of the city near Virginia.
Out: “Spray and Pray” Marketing
In: Real, Measurable ROI
Many marketers are still struggling in earnest to prove social ROI, but technology has come a long way since the first brands ventured onto social back in the early aughts.
Most CRMs already integrate with marketing data to tie social media to business results. The ante will increase in the near future, with B2C marketers pushing the envelope by integrating with POS applications to prove real revenue.
There’s also increasing support for tying social media data to business outcomes, as companies realize the value of listening efforts. According to analysts at the Altimeter Group:
“Social data, in context of other enterprise data, will become a standard input into business decision-making. The winning technology vendors will be those who seek to solve the whole business problem, rather than looking at social [data] as a silo.” (Tweet this!)
Is Your Social Media Strategy In or Out?
With these five social media trends changing the face of social media as we close out 2016, it’s an exciting time to be a social media marketer. More and more every year, your efforts are driving real business outcomes by bringing companies closer to their target consumers.
Social data is more immediate, comprehensive, and human than ever before. Are you using it to its full potential?