When social media first emerged, many digital marketers dismissed it as a “trend” that wouldn’t last. Going into 2016, it’s clear that social media isn’t going anywhere. It’s also clear that, due to the nature of its existence, it changes every day. Complementing a few of the digital marketing trends we pointed to in an earlier post, here are some social trends you can expect to see emerge in 2016.
- Expect a rise in live social broadcasting: People are more apt to trust live settings where there is no chance of editing things out. By giving people an inside look at what your organization is up to, you will further develop that trust, which leads to more people listening, talking, and eventually buying from you. With programs like Periscope, SnapChat, and Facebook’s new Facebook Live Broadcasts, this is a strategy to explore for 2016. If this in-the-moment trend sticks around, businesses will have to re-evaluate the old approach of scheduling social media posts and focus more on live and as-it’s-happening events to report.
- More powerful search results: Have you ever wondered why Google got to be so popular? It’s because their search function is so powerful and accurate. Nine times out of ten, I find exactly what I’m looking for when I use Google’s search engine. That kind of functionality is always coveted, so it makes sense that social media platforms would look to increase the ease and breadth of their search features. An example of this would be Facebook adding an in-post search functionality or Pinterest announcing their new visual search feature. With the Pinterest feature, you can click within an image to start a new search. The sample they show on their blog includes a photo of a living room, stating that you can click on the lamp in the photo to find similar pins JUST on that lamp.
This is a much more complex search feature but a much simpler way of searching for the visitor.
- Plan for more inbound messages via your social media platforms: With more people than ever on social media platforms, receiving messages or inquiries about your business via social media will become commonplace. Last year set the stage for this, with Sprout Social reporting that across industries, brands received 32% more inbound messages in 2015 than the year before. Knowing this, it is imperative that you discuss and plan for who will review and respond to these social messages. Leaving these messages to sit without a reply is more than likely resulting in money left on the table.
- Buy buttons will become a necessity: Introduced in 2015, major social media players Facebook and Pinterest paved the way for the takeover of the “buy” button in social platforms. Without ever leaving the app, mobile users of Facebook and Pinterest who see a product they like in a sponsored post can now use one click to buy it. Instagram has already applied this feature, and it’s assumed many other platforms will jump on board with this trend. Leveraging this feature catches the consumer “in the moment” and also reduces the steps involved to make a purchase.
- User privacy policies will make or break social platforms: With multiple security breaches in the digital world last year, users are more apprehensive than ever about the security of their information. With the frightening realization that a user’s data could be retrieved and used in a malicious way, social media platforms have been forced to devote a lot of time and energy to this concern. In 2016, users will flock to platforms that offer more protection over their personal data. In turn, businesses should be aware of this rise in privacy concerns and consider backing off on more intrusive forms of advertising.
- Competition for organic visibility will increase.When social media first emerged, marketers had a hard time evaluating if the time and money invested on these platforms was really worth it for their clients. Now, with companies like Forbes publishing articles entitled 100 Ways to Maximize ROI on Your Social Media Campaign, it’s clear that social media has become established enough to prove it’s worth for any business, not just the ones that have a multi-million dollar marketing budget. However, with that understanding comes more competition.
Now that social media platforms have established their worth, there will be a lot more players in the market vying for organic visibility. But with greater demand comes a number of different options. Instagram has opened up running video and carousel ads with call-to-action links and Facebook has added a “call now” button for mobile devices as well as a carousel ad feature. Expect more choices on how to spend your marketing dollars on social media along with a general rise in costs to advertise across the board.
Keeping an eye on trends will help you plan in advance and anticipate the coming changes now instead of trying to catch up. After all, last year’s trends usually have an influence in this year’s strategy, so stay ahead of the curve instead of behind it. Companies who adapt now will benefit the most.
Ready to amp up your social media marketing strategy but not sure where to start? Download our free guide on How to Monitor Your Social Media in 10 Minutes a Day!