It would be easy to say the social media trend for 2017 everyone should be focused on is video. It is dominating the social media world and will continue to do so, but that is far from being the end of the story.
The landscape of social media is becoming more centered around creating content unique for the selected platform and while most of that will be visual in nature, it will also be need to be more personalized and engaging for followers.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Followers
Social media is filled with people who want to be social. This may seem like an obvious point but the way we are programmed to socialize is with visual and auditory input. The right images tell a story far better than sterilized text ever could and it allows for visual listening.
Be Ready to Do a 360
360-degree video is shaping up to be for 2017 what live video was for 2016. Many of the apps that helped video explode into social media marketing this past year are adding new innovations to help viewers feel like they are experiencing the location personally.
If you haven’t played around with it yet, the technology allows viewers to control where they look within the image. The potential is mind blowing.
Be Yourself – Your Best Self
Active members of social media communities want to engage with a ‘real person’. In the past many brands would use a logo and smaller solopreneurs would use a candid image of themselves.
2017 is the time to take your headshot to the next level. Whether that means investing in professional photographs or simply being more deliberate in choices of location, lighting, and appearance.
Go Live – Or at Least Be Recording
Video was clearly one of the defining social media trends for 2016 and that is only going to become more prevalent with 2017. The real push for the coming year, however, will be for more people and companies to offer live video on a variety of social media platforms.
For those that need further proof, recent statistics show of the businesses who used video as part of their marketing strategy felt it provided a good return on investment and helped customers understand their brand better.
Immersive experiences such as augmented reality and virtual reality are things consumers want. A blazing success of this technology in 2016 was Pokémon Go. Consumers loved the way the game was brought to life but the bugs made the success somewhat fleeting. The important takeaway from this is, if done properly it can create phenomenal success.
As the technology continues to advance and more consumers become comfortable with VR headsets and augmented reality apps, the potential for utilizing the social aspect will continue to grow.
One of the biggest bombshells of 2016 was the prevalence of fake news. It has pushed many companies to reevaluate the way they allow content to be ranked and distributed. In 2017 it will be more important than ever to create only that content which is authentic, reliable, and valuable to the members of the social media platforms on which it is being shared. Failure to do so will almost certainly result in losses as the platforms become more adept at weeding out irrelevant or fraudulent content.
Social media influencers are those individuals who have a large audience of engaged users on a specific social media platform. While some of these people are celebrities in their own right, the majority are average people who are captivating enough for the target audience to want to interact with on a regular basis.
These individuals have been slowly becoming more important and influential in the world of social media marketing and that trend is set to continue. In order to take advantage of this it will be necessary to identify the social media channel that has the greatest access to your target audience and then find an influencer that will best promote your campaign.
Originally, social media was a place for people to talk to other people about shared interests. Increasingly, it has become the place to go to learn new things and find new products. As that happened, businesses began seeing more traffic flowing to their sites and quickly realized the potential advertising power.
The main difference for 2017 is, instead of relying on organic traffic individuals and business who want large bumps in referral traffic are going to have to pay to play.
Measure Your Followers
Social media has been one of the more challenging metrics to quantify and track. It isn’t enough that people are seeing the desired content on social media if those views don’t translate into increased opt-in numbers or sales.
There are several ways to do this. Track active fans, total likes or shares, growth of your audience, and lead generation are a few options. Once you’ve determined what you want to measure you will need at least one analytics tool to get started. It’s important to play around with the options until the best fit is found because what you learn from your measurements should control your social media strategy going forward.
2016 has seen a much larger discussion on the importance of having a social media strategy that is fully integrated with the overall advertising plan. In 2017 this will be even more important as more people turn to social media sources before email, news, or blogs.
Social media has the potential to add significant value to customer relationship management (CRM). People are already attached to their phones and head to their favorite social media app to complain about bad service or to share pictures of amazing experiences with their favorite companies.
If it is done right it can make a huge difference in a consumer’s overall experience with a company. If they felt as though their complaint has been heard, understood, and addressed it can go a long way to mitigating the problem. To do this effectively companies must have clearly defined hours, a staff that is well trained to respond appropriately, and clearly defined parameters for all employees to follow that encompass all feasible situations they may encounter.
Social media has taken an even more personal and immediate turn with the growth of social messaging. Chat apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, and WeChat have more users than even some of the most popular social media platforms.
While chat bots are not fully optimized yet, many experts are predicting 2017 will see a growth in the field that will revolutionize the way companies are able to interact with their consumer base. Companies who have the ability to do so should seriously consider developing a company chat bot to stay ahead of the curve.
Facebook has made some serious waves in the social media world throughout 2016. Facebook Live has changed the way individuals, small business owners, and news services interact with the pubic.
2017 has even more in store. If Facebook is not a place to share links to your most recent content. It, and other social media channels, are where you want to deliver new and unique content for the users of the platform.
Instagram is one of the best places for visual brands to display their story. It necessitates understanding how to find and best use hashtags to ensure your images are seen by the people who are looking for them, but for those who manage to do so successfully it can be a great way to create a loyal and engaged group of followers.
Some experts are even betting that it is soon going to be one of the most powerful platforms for businesses in the field of social media.
Snapchat is not as well-known as some of the other social media platforms because it has not yet become fully inundated with marketing strategists. It is a video messaging app that has an auto-destruct functionality reminiscent of 007 technologies that has been avidly embraced by younger generations.
However, Snapchat has grown substantially throughout 2016 and as more brands embrace the technology and the user base that growth is likely to continue. With so many users it is quickly becoming one of the social media platforms businesses need to explore.
There has been some speculation in the media that Twitter has outlived its relevancy. But the company has been making strategic acquisitions and rolling out new features that will help boost its appeal. It also has one of the most engaged user bases due to the way it is designed to facilitate conversations between people from different areas and demographics.
Twitter is making a play with live video with the purchase of Periscope that will make it easier for production companies to utilize their expertise and produce content specifically for audiences on Twitter. New character limit changes, access to images, the newly released connect option, and native ability to search for GIFs all have the potential to boost the platform’s reach.
Pinterest has been difficult for some companies to fully optimize. The way in which content is shared and searched is markedly different from the methods used by other social media platforms. It functions more similarly to a search engine.
The company has introduced two new features that will make it easier for companies to reach their target audiences. Their Ads Manager feature allow products or services to be directly marketed on Pinterest rather than promoting content that is hosted elsewhere and intended to attract visitors through organic pins. The new Showcase allows users to customize exactly what visitors see when they visit a profile page. This has great curation potential that will make it easier to drive those interested in your brand exactly where you want them to go rather than to the last pin or those pins the Pinterest algorithm selects.
It’s interesting to note that while Pinterest hasn’t been the primary focus for social media campaigns in the past, the CEO has been working to ensure that it will be in the future.
LinkedIn was already the go-to social media platform for professionals. With the recent acquisition of the company by Microsoft it is likely that the latent potential will soon increase exponentially.
LinkedIn Pulse is especially valuable for social media marketing efforts of B2B companies. It provides a method for creating and distributing authoritative content that has access to an audience base within one’s field of expertise.
The platform is one of the best available for recruiting new talent and networking with those within a given field. Finally, when it comes to the ability of advanced targeting your ads to build brand awareness, generate leads, and reach clearly defined target viewers LinkedIn has perhaps the most advanced platform around for businesses.
YouTube is what has driven video content in the past. While newer social media platforms are now offering a variety of video services, YouTube has a huge following. They are the second largest social network, when they are included in social media statistics. They have about 1 million users on their platform each month and advertisers have been targeting them more aggressively.
According to some statistics millennials are watching as much as two-thirds of their premium online video content on YouTube while less than 9 percent of small businesses have made efforts to reach them there. The number of channels earning six figures continues to increase by 50 percent annually. Finally, viewers who watched ads on the platform had a dramatic click through rate.
The challenge of optimizing social media is substantial. Many find themselves spread too thin or avoid dipping a toe in the water altogether. The arrival of 2017 will usher in a greater reliance of individuals and companies on social media to engage with others. It’s time to make social media work for you.
What do you think the hottest social media trends of 2017 will be?
Photo credit: iStock
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