By Karina Welch
There’s no denying that social media is setting the marketing industry on fire, with no hint of dying down anytime soon. What’s more, we all know that if a business wants to tap into this blazing hot market, its first got to establish a strong, yet malleable social media strategy. And the best strategies in the digital sphere are those that analyze and adapt. When it comes to social media, the power of adaptation seriously relies on taking the trends into account.
We also know that people are craving engagement and connection more than ever in this increasingly digital world. Social media platforms are delivering connection, while current industry trends are boosting engagement. Here, we take a look at five of these engagement-driven trends to strengthen your brand’s marketing strategy today.
SMS messaging is quickly becoming the preferred mode of communication for users in the digital era. In fact, messaging apps—such as What’s App, Viber, and Facebook Messenger—have now surpassed actual social networks in terms of monthly users. What does this mean for brands? Well, users are now proving to be more loyal to brands that engage them through SMS and chat platforms. In fact, 62% of millennials say they are more loyal to brands that connect with them through messaging apps. Messaging platforms are paving the way for more direct, one-on-one communication between brands and consumers. This type of dialogue is boosting loyalty and transparency. But as the number of consumers engaging in this type of dialogue skyrockets, there’s a need for more effective chatting.
Enter: chatbots. Chatbots are artificial intelligence systems that interact over text. Businesses are now incorporating these systems into their websites, in order to strengthen relationships and improve customer care. But with 34.5% of consumers now using social media as their preferred mode of customer service, the use of chatbots in the social media realm is expected to take off. We can take the 11,000 chatbots currently active on Facebook Messenger as a sign of what’s to come.
Messaging Apps have surpassed Social Networks in terms of global monthly users.
Continuing on with themes of trust and transparency, brands are now tapping into live videos to project real-life, down-to-earth, and humanistic elements of their identities. Moreover, by promoting live content ahead of time, brands are now heightening consumer emotions and increasing excitability.
Perhaps one of the most notable and more recent live video success stories is the BuzzFeed Watermelon Challenge video that aired live on Facebook last April. According to Facebook, more than 800,000 viewers tuned in for the 45-minute event, whereby two BuzzFeed employees tested exactly how many rubber bands it would take to make a watermelon explode. (It took exactly 686, in case you were wondering.) Since airing, the video has now garnered more than 320,000 comments and more than 10 million views.
The secret for success?—all in all, the live video proved to be an amazing avenue to heighten suspense among the audience, draw users in, and ultimately create a new level of intimacy between the brand and its consumers. BuzzFeed’s video streak continued, and in January 2017, the news and entertainment site broke a new record by generating 3 billion views on its YouTube, Facebook, Vine, and Instagram feeds, signaling to marketers worldwide just how powerful this live video trend could be.
BuzzFeed’s live video took users behind-the-scenes, enhancing the human side of the brand.
In 2016, the Pokémon Go craze took the digital world by storm. The augmented reality game exploded onto the global app scene, and while a series of technical and safety-related missteps led to its sudden demise, it quickly clued marketers into the possibility of augmented reality.
Since then, augmented reality has been creeping into the social scene with facial filters, including SnapChat’s original puking rainbows and Instagram’s puppy faces and flower crowns. Now it seems, social media giants are on the brink of a battle for the best facial filter experiences. Upon its recent buy-out of Masquerade (MSQRD)—a live filter app for selfies—Facebook has confirmed it’s now experimenting with augmented reality applications. But the augmented experience isn’t stopping at selfies. These filters are now being applied to live videos, brands to connect to consumers in a more enhanced and personal way.
Instagram face filters, courtesy of Instagram and CNN Money.
According to Sprout Social, 75% of consumers have made a purchase because they saw it on social media. Now more than ever, shoppers are looking to find reputable brands with massive loyal followings, and they’re looking to social media to find them. Likewise, ecommerce is a booming business, and most people are looking not only to do their shopping online, but they want instant purchases. As a result, social networks are now developing easier ways for brands to reach and sell directly to consumers right on the network platform, without having to navigate to another site. Instagram is now offering this direct-sell platform, but users can expect more of these instant purchase platforms to sweep the social sphere soon.
Instagram’s direct-sell platform, courtesy of Accessories Magazine.
New technology is not only sparking new trends in the social media world, but it’s also enhancing the use of analytics. In fact, there are now dozens of free software tools out there, allowing businesses to gather data from social media platforms to adapt and enhance marketing strategies. Tools such as Buffer, ViralWoot, and Followerwonk, are not only providing businesses with insight to consumer reach, interactivity, and engagement across social media platforms, but they are now helping to streamline content and delivery. Tools such as Viralwoot for Pinterest, are allowing businesses to see data on the best time of day to post content, as well as to schedule the release of content on the site. As social media platforms continue to develop, you can expect social analytics to do the same.
Viralwoot analytics for Pinterest.
Analyze and adapt. These are the secrets of any successful social media strategy, and the ticket to successful adaptation in today’s social sphere is trend watching. While we consider these five trends—chatbots, live video, augmented reality, instant purchases, and analytics—to be in the forefront of the 2017 social landscape, it’s crucial that you remember to broaden your scope and continue your watch as time goes on. And remember, of course, to always analyze and adapt your strategies accordingly.
Karina Welch is the corporate marketing manager for Blue Fountain Media.