As you’ll know, social media is constantly changing and what worked well in 2017, won’t necessarily have the same impact this year. To make it work for your business it’s key to stay ahead of the curve and constantly adapt your strategy by being aware of all the latest changes and social media trends.
As we approach the second quarter of the year, we thought it would be good to take a look back on the social media trends that have been hot this year. We’re also going to predict what’s set to grow over the next few months to help you develop an effective social strategy.
Brands are embracing story platforms
Stories have come on leaps and bounds this year. Originating on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram now have story features which enable brands to share candid videos and insights with followers. Originally associated with influencers, stories are proving to be powerful platforms for businesses to really connect with consumers.
Subscription box company, BarkBox is nailing stories and proving to be a great source of entertainment for followers. Their “Doggie interview” between a cute pug and member of staff had a great response and showed a humorous side to the business.
As storytelling is a key element when it comes to marketing nowadays, this feature offers the perfect platform to do just that. Plus, we know by now that video outperforms all other forms of content so it’s a win-win.
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To get started, have a think how you can make the platform work for you. Whether it’s through tutorials, Q&As or product launches, the possibilities really are endless. Just remember to be authentic and show your brand in a personable, relatable light.
Live video is going down a storm
It’s no secret that social media users like to feel ‘in the moment’ and live video lets them do just that. Watching an event or interview as it happens gives people a real sense of involvement. Live interaction and commenting has also opened up a whole new level of real-time engagement which was never accessible before.
Dunkin’ Doughnuts took advantage of this with a live stream on Valentines day. The confectionary giant gave viewers a look behind the scenes to demonstrate the production process. The video ended with the creation of an enormous doughnut wedding cake and attracted 36,000 viewers. Although this isn’t astronomical – it’s still 36,000 people watching a cake being made…
This goes to show how interested people are in behind the scenes videos, no matter what the industry. Like anything, it’s important to really plan your live videos – there’s nothing worse than falling flat live! Remember that people are going to want to interact so be ready to answer questions and use the opportunity to really engage.
Virtual reality is changing industries
This is one to really watch as its popularity has soared in recent years thanks to the increase in accessibility for users. There are now approximately 170 million VR users globally which is a stark increase from 2014 when this figure stood at 200,000.
Yes, this isn’t necessarily mainstream yet but there are some early adopters showing how it can work for business. Hotel giant, Marriott has paved the way with by offering a “Teleporter” experience designed to provide customers with a 4D view of its destinations. By experientially transporting users to around the globe, the brand is actively changing the travel industry.
This type of immersive marketing is still in its early stages but pioneering brands that adopt it in 2018 will provide customers with another dimension.
Augmented reality enhances retail
We’ve all tried out Instagrams dog ear filter by now right? Or Snapchat’s face swap? In 2018, augmented reality is no longer just for entertainment purposes between friends, it is opening up new possibilities for businesses left right and center.
For retailers, in particular, augmented reality is offering a new dimension to the customer experience. Recent research suggests it could be worth £1 billion to the UK home decor market alone. Furthermore, 70% of consumers now expect retailers to launch a form of AR app this year.
Lacoste were early adopters and created an app which enabled uses to try on shoes. Aimed at its tech-savvy, younger audience, the app had 30,000 downloads and successfully put the shopping experience in consumer hands – literally. Similarly, beauty giant L’Oréal launched a successful app which enabled users to try makeup collections virtually. The Youcam Makeup App has 20 million users globally who actively share the results of their virtual makeovers on social media.
This is definitely one to bear in mind, particularly if you are an online retailer. Being able to try out products before purchasing – even virtually – builds consumer confidence and can help guide purchasing decisions.
What social media trends can we expect to see as 2018 progresses?
Social customer service will become the norm
Contacting businesses for help and support on social media is pretty common now. However, not all businesses have adopted it yet. As 2018 progresses, we’ll see a clear increase in brands making themselves more available on social media and actively interacting with customers.
Just make sure you have the resources to provide the level of service that consumers anticipate nowadays. According to Jay Baer, 42% of users expect a response within an hour.
JetBlue has proved its on it when it comes to social customer service with a quick response time and great solutions. When a passenger complained that an onboard tv screen wasn’t working, JetBlue responded by providing the customer with a credit for the out of service tv. Their quick action was met with a great response:
“One of the fastest and best customer service: @JetBlue! Thanks and a Happy Thanksgiving.”
The brand quickly and efficiently turned a negative into a positive and demonstrated a genuine desire to look after the customer.
Social customer service also presents brands with a great opportunity to go the extra mile. Morton’s Steakhouse presented a cracking example of this with their response to an unusual request. Before taking off, a hungry individual tweeted the following:
“Hey @Mortons – can you meet me at Newark Airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks :)”
To his astonishment, when heading to his taxi in Newark, the customer was greeted with a 24 o.z. Porterhouse steak as requested. The best part – it was all for free. Now if this isn’t customer service, what is?
Ok, so it’s not possible to pull of this type of service all the time but the moral of this story it that using social customer service to do something unexpected can go a long way. This story was shared copiously on social media presenting the brand in a great light as, after all, who doesn’t love a feel good story like that?
Social messaging will provide a powerful tool for businesses
The way we communicate with businesses has changed dramatically in recent years. As consumers, we now expect to be able to communicate with brands 24/7. This has paved the way for the increase in brands adopting instant messaging platforms as a means of communication.
It’s no surprise given that Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp now have around 1.3 million monthly users each. Now in 2018, there are already 65 million businesses active on Facebook messenger – a figure that is only set to grow.
The desire for speed and convenience are going to be key drivers for businesses to start using the channel. So if you want to provide your customers with this type of speedy service then it’s worth investigating these platforms.
To sum up
If one things for sure it’s that social media does not stand still. Something that’s clearly impacting it this year is consumer expectations. Thanks to the immediacy of the internet, customers now expect to be able to communicate with brands instantly and get quicker responses than before. To ensure your business stays ahead of the curve, it’s important to get involved and show that you’re adapting to how consumers expect to interact with businesses. It’s critical to keep up with all the latest social media trends and experiment to see which ones might work for you and your business.
Ryan is a Digital Marketing Specialist at the Bradford based Digital Agency Harrison Mann. Being in the digital marketing field for 7 years now, he enjoys keeping up to date with the latest in all things digital and search. As a silent type, Ryan expresses plenty of his thoughts through writing.