The world has never been into social media as much, as it is now. There are more than 3 billion active users on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social platforms. This is almost half of the worldwide population. Many businesses continue to find social media is the most effective way to reach audiences.
We realize it perfectly at Chanty. Building a simple AI-powered Slack alternative, our team has just started sailing in the rough waters of social media. This is how I got curious about the top social media trends for businesses to pay attention to.
I’ve dived into dozens of articles and expert opinions on the topic, picking up the most important social media trends. I’ll briefly review them in this article, providing some case studies. Have a read at the 7 social media trends to pay attention to this year.
1. Videos are good, live streaming is better
We all know videos rock, right? According to Cisco forecasts, 82% of all consumer internet traffic will be video by 2021. Pre-recorded content works well, but the benefit can be even greater if you incorporate live streaming into your marketing mix. Live streaming makes up 66% of all internet usage, and this number is growing. The options for live broadcasting are endless.
A live streaming case study.
Dunkin’ Donuts’ live tour of the DD test kitchen. Video source.
In 2016, Dunkin’ Donuts, a US coffeehouse company, debuted with its first Facebook Live video. The presenters gave a sneak peek to their “test kitchen” and created a big donut-themed wedding cake. This behind-the-scenes video attracted 48K viewers so far, which is quite an impressive number considering the unpretentious topic of the video.
Here’s a tip. Going “viral” won’t help much if you’re not reaching your target market. Be sure to use content marketing tools, such as Google Analytics to measure ROI.
2. Micro-influencers can work magic
This social media trend might be your safest bet. Influencer marketing is one of the most trusted forms of advertising. Influencers tend to have higher user engagement than content generated by brands. But guess what? Way too often, star campaigns didn’t cover the expenses.
The thing is that celebrities may seem a too far apart from their fans, so they don’t get enough empathy from their audience. However, bloggers who have fewer followers (approximately 10K) are perceived as more authentic and relatable. This helps them to engage more people in their promotional campaigns. So, sorry, dear Kardashian family, we’re turning to everyday people.
A micro-influencer marketing case study.
Banana Republic influencer campaign. Image source.
Banana Republic’s Instagram campaign can serve as a successful example of the micro-influencer marketing. The American clothing retailer works extensively with bloggers who try on its clothing in a variety of settings. By seeking fashion influencers known for their sense of style Banana Republic claimed to reach a large and targeted audience.
There is another advantage of turning to micro-influencers. Having a smaller group of followers, they can afford to keep things personal, responding to comments and messages.
Here’s a tip. Make sure that the influencers you choose fit your target audience. If you work worldwide, remember that the popularity of social media platforms varies by region. For example, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are banned in China. Instagram, however, doubled its user base in India last year.
3. Tell your story (using ephemeral content)
Ephemeral content tops record levels. Instagram Stories grew up to 400 million daily users. So why do people love the short-lived content? I would say, it’s because of love and fear. First, it plays on the FOMO (fear of missing out). We don’t want to miss any news about summer discounts of our favorite brand, right? Second, people (especially millennials) love authentic connections to brands, which is exactly what ephemeral content offers.
An ephemeral content case study.
The Instagram Story of the Beyond Yoga brand. Image source.
Here’s a typical example of how a retail company uses the ephemeral content. In this Instagram Story, Beyond Yoga features a woman getting through her workout in the branded clothes. This is an effective way to create buzz for a new product.
The ephemeral content provides plenty of possibilities for marketers from unveiling a product line to the behind-the-scenes coverage of a company’s workflows.
Here’s a tip. It’s a good idea to keep your content personal and casual. It shouldn’t take visitors away from the main feed of your social media account.
4. Get a friendly chatbot
Here’s the thing: your customers would love to talk to you. In case you’re busy, they won’t even mind a friendly bot. Since marketers became aware of this, live chats have been an integral part of sales. When customers engage with a brand via chat, they are 4.5 times more likely to make a purchase and far more likely to become loyal clients. The hyper-personalized customer journeys make visitors feel they are special and worth attention.
A chatbot case study.
Kia Motors chatbot. Image source.
Many brands design Facebook Messenger chatbots to answer questions and requests from their potential customers. Above is a common example. KIA, a South Korea automobile manufacturer, introduced a chatbot. It can answer car buyers’ questions and guide them to the vehicle that fits their needs. This feature resulted in 3 times higher online conversion rates.
Chatbots have a bright future, especially since they are entering the financial sector. Reportedly, Citibank is rolling out the first Facebook Messenger-embedded chatbot that will allow customers to access their financial records and conduct transactions. This is considered to herald a new era of mobile banking.
Here’s a tip. Chatbots should be skillfully crafted and work seamlessly on a variety of devices. Be sure they provide good linguistics and are bug-free. This will excite your customers, so they will come again and spread the word about you.
5. Embrace augmented reality
Nearly all talks about augmented reality start with a clause, “It’s not fully there yet.” Indeed, AR seems a lot like a promise. But a very fulfilling one. It has been slowly conquering apps, games,
global positioning systems and… social media. We already feel at home with AR selfie filters
– bunny ears and mustaches used in Facebook or Instagram Stories.
However, in May 2018 Facebook introduced a more advanced AR feature – the camera effects in Messenger. The idea is the following: when users are chatting with your company’s bot, they can click “try on looks”. The command opens up the camera pre-populated with filters and AR effects specific to your brand.
An augmented reality case study.
AR for the Facebook Messenger Platform. Image source.
At launch, four brands introduced AR effects for their Messenger experiences: ASUS, KIA, Nike, and Sephora. As an example, Nike is using Messenger to promote a new pair of sneakers. The brand provides users with an exclusive sneak peek at their product. Reportedly, after launching the feature Nike saw higher engagement from users who interacted with these AR experiences.
Though not publicly available yet, AR camera effects in Messenger are to become a common solution for businesses. Meanwhile, Facebook moved on to the next tech endeavor – AR advertisements. The pilot brand partners testing the feature include Sephora, Bobbi Brown, and Pottery Barn.
Here’s a tip. For now, consider incorporating the embed branded AR camera effects into your Facebook messenger bot. The platform works in beta as of August 2018. But you can request access to it, by adding your company to the waitlist. There’s much more to come in AR technologies, so be prepared.
6. Incorporate social advertising
Your social media ads budget can be tight, as in most companies. But as Facebook continues to slash organic reach for businesses, the paid promotion might be your healthy choice. Luckily, Facebook has pioneered some of the most precise ad targeting tools ever. Do you want to target fifty-something, well-to-do, Texas farmers, who like dogs and rodeo? No problem. However, there’s a nuance you should be aware of. 53 percent of people want to see more video content, so make sure video ads fit into your social media strategy.
A social advertising case study.
Kay Jewelers’ video ad. Video source.
This video ad from Kay Jewelers, an American jewelry company, tells a quick but touching story, using just a few seconds of your time. You don’t even need the sound to get the message the company is sending.
Here’s a tip. If you are going to use video ads, be sure your ad has a clear (and, preferably, happy) ending. People view videos more passively on Facebook than they do on YouTube. They won’t have time to interpret your ad if it’s too long or complex.
7. Build communities, connect offline
People have built communities from time immemorial. This human tendency has never been so important for us, marketers, as it is now. Surfing the web, users get tired of automation and being sold to. They want real experiences and interactions. That’s why a loyal community can be a lifesaver for businesses.
Facebook Groups can be powerful for building communities. At Chanty, we started one recently, and it seems like a long and exciting journey is ahead. There are multiple ways to engage people in your community: from asking them for some feedback to building a creative promotion your customers are interested in. Ideally, it all comes to connecting in real life. If possible, take your communities to an offline setting.
A case study online to offline.
This is an Instagram post from Kylie Jenner, the owner of a cosmetic company. She founded her business online, and it exploded in popularity thanks in part to social media. In 2016, when the company announced a pop-up store, fans were ecstatic. They finally got a chance to handle the product in-person, try out the colors, and even meet their fashion idol in real life.
Here’s a tip. Create a community for your passionate customers, but don’t try to control it too much. It’s better not to delete posts (unless it’s spam) or sanitize negative feedback. Keep in mind that your community is an extremely useful reality check and feedback mechanism and whenever possible try to find a way to connect offline as well.
Wrapping up today’s top social media trends
We’ve listed the seven top social media trends that you can’t turn a blind eye to. To recap:
- Post high-quality live videos. Craft messages you send to viewers and use analytics tools to measure ROI.
- Collaborate with micro-influencers, but make sure they are in touch with your target audience. Keep in mind that popularity of social media platforms varies by region.
- Use ephemeral content to show the human side of your brand. Keep your stories personal and casual not to distract your visitors from the main feed.
- Adopt a friendly chatbot to create a real-time engagement with prospective customers. It should be bug-free and work reliably across devices.
- Be prepared for the best AR technologies coming to the social media. Consider joining Facebook AR camera effects beta program or placing an AR advertisement.
- Utilize social advertising and paid promotions as the organic reach in social media has extremely declined. Experiment with using video ads, as they tend to resonate better than static image ads.
- Build communities, online and offline, and provide them with great content. Consider connecting with your potential and actual clients offline whenever possible.
Did I miss anything from this list of top social media trends? Feel free to leave your comments below. And if you found this article helpful, please share it on your favorite social platform.