Are you also wondering what social media trends we’ll see in the future so you can prepare for them and stay on top of them?
Social media has increased dramatically in popularity over the years.
In fact, just a few years ago, in 2014, there were 1.91 social media users worldwide, and 4 years later, in 2018, it is estimated that social media 2.61 billion active users.
Safe to say, social media is completely revolutionizing the way we communicate.
In a matter of seconds, we can reach people from all parts of the world, and communicate with them effortlessly.
Moreover, the way brands market to people has dramatically changed too.
Marketers of brands are all after one thing: attention.
Where the attention of their audience is, that’s where the brands will be.
And as you can see, social media has absolutely no lack of it.
The single most effective way to market your brand is to build relationships with your audience, and social media allows you to do just that. After all, it is called social media for a reason.
As more and more brands understand the immense power of social media marketing, social media has become a natural part of many brands’ marketing strategies.
But the truth is that unless you have a clear strategy on what you’re going to do to generate results, and how you’re going to reach your audience, you won’t come near the results that you’re seeing in the statistics of social media marketing around the web.
In marketing, it’s important that you’re early with trends, and do things before the large crowd does it. Because when they do, the competition will be tougher, and the market will be more saturated.
Moreover, social media is a quickly evolving landscape, which means that what worked today might not work tomorrow, so you always need to stay on top of the latest trends so you don’t realize it too late when it is already saturated.
This is why it’s crucial to stay on top of social media trends that you can hop on. By knowing what is up and comping, you can optimize and fine-tune your social media marketing strategy, and ultimately generate better results.
In this article, I am sharing with you 7 Social Media Trends to Piggyback On in the Coming Years to remain relevant on social media and to crush your competition.
Social media trends to watch for
Social media is a quickly evolving landscape, that’s no secret.
If you go back 5 years on Facebook, you’ll soon realize that it was quite different from what it is today.
Equally, the strategies for generating amazing marketing results.
There were no live stream, no Stories, and heck, it was even beneficial to grow a large audience on the platform – because you could actually reach the people who followed you.
Now, it’s impossible to predict the future, but it’s not impossible to understand in which direction it is heading. This is what enables us to understand the major social media trends that we can expect in the coming years. Also, by looking at which directions the social media platforms are going, we can get a hunch of what we have to expect, and what we need to to to stand out from the crowd, and give the people what they are asking for.
1. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing, or in this case, social media influencer marketing is one of the social media trends that have been the most obvious in recent times, and that we can expect to continue to grow in popularity over the years.
People’s trust in brands is at an all-time low.
People aren’t as blind as they were when we accessed information about the world by reading a piece of paper.
Everyone knows that brands have one goal and one goal only: to sell more.
So obviously, everything the brand say and do will be done in order to support that goal.
And as a result, people are very distrusting to brands.
So what can you do?
You can partner with influential individuals in your space whom your audience looks up to and trust, and have them mediate and spread your brand’s message.
In other words, it is a way around the low trust that brands have, and a way to still reach and impact your audience much more deeply than you as a brand are able to.
And that influencer marketing is continuing to grow in popularity is no surprise when you look at the statistics it is able to show for.
- Influencer marketing content delivers 11X higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing.
- 6 in 10 follow advice from their favorite creator on what to buy over recommendations from celebrities.
- 86 percent of women turn to social media outlets for opinions and advice on what to buy.
As the statistics reveal, a lot of the power of influencer marketing lies in trust.
People see influencers as industry leaders and experts within their niche, and therefore, their job is to guide their audience.
Moreover, influencers build strong relationships with their audience, which leads to an engaged and loyal following – a following who will trust their recommendations.
But the influencer marketing space has also evolved over the years.
Back in the days, the only influencers were celebrities, which were the people who you looked up to, but today, social media has given anyone a voice and an opportunity to become leaders in their industry.
When influencer marketing on social media was new, brands only focused on partnering with the individuals with the most followers.
Now, however, brands have started to realize the importance of finding and partnering with influencers who truly resonate with the brand and align with the brand’s values, as well as building strong relationships with them.
This is, of course, a big challenge. In fact, 73% of marketers report that “finding the right influencer” is the biggest challenge of the influencer marketing process.
If you’re partnering with influencers who don’t align with your brand, and who aren’t really relevant to you, the campaign will come off as inauthentic, and as a result, it will come off as untrustworthy, making it have a very little impact.
The social media trends of influencer marketing are focused on authenticity.
People’s bullshit detectors are more fine-tuned than ever, and as a result, people are able to identify inauthentic influencer marketing campaigns from miles away.
Therefore, if you want to succeed with influencer marketing in the coming years, you need to focus on partnering with influencers who truly resonate with your brand.
2. Social Listening
People spend an average of 135 minutes on social media a day.
And in that time, a lot of them are talking about brands and their brand experiences.
Whether you know it or not, people are talking about your brand on social media.
Before the rise of social media, and even before the internet, people would talk to their friends about their brand experiences.
And for brands, it’s obviously quite difficult to hear what people are saying about them when they’re talking to their friends, right?
But now, when people are taking that to social media, and as a result, it has opened up completely new opportunities for brands to hear what their audience is saying about them.
Because the truth is, what your audience is saying about you is tremendously valuable information, and if you aren’t listening to your audience, you’re missing out on great opportunities.
People are taking to social media to talk about all sorts of things when it comes to brands. Some give praise to brands who are doing an amazing job, others complain about things, and some give tips on how you can improve as a brand.
On social media, what people are saying about you is right in front of you.
You just need to take the time to listen.
This is why social listening has increased in popularity the last couple of years and will continue to do so.
Because the things your audience is saying about you will allow you to improve.
Realize that people aren’t just talking about you when they’re talking with you.
They might share posts to rant about you without tagging you. And if you don’t actively listen, you will never access that information.
This puts a great importance on you as a brand to have strategies and methods in place for how you’re going to access the information that is being shared about you on social media.
Do you know what people are saying about you on social media?
With the right methods, it is possible to identify and extract the things that people are saying about your brand – directly or indirectly.
But with the increased popularity of social listening, there are now several third-party social listening tools at your disposal to help you understand the sentiment of what is being said.
3. Live Streaming and Video
Live streaming and video are two things that will be major content types on social media in the future.
Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have launched live video on the platforms, and a few years ago, Instagram also introduced the ability to upload videos to the platform- something that wasn’t possible earlier.
Live video is increasing in popularity as it portrays the reality in a raw and unfiltered manner.
People are getting tired of images that are edited to perfection, which ties into the importance of authenticity and transparency which I’ll go more into detail on further on.
According to Facebook, live videos receive 6X the engagement as non-live videos, so clearly, there’s a great interest in live video. Several brands have already been able to identify this trend, and the fact that live video is something that people are screaming is something that some brands have identified, including Starbucks, Sephora, and Kohls.
There are several reasons why live video, as well as video, is increasing in popularity, apart from the fact that it is shared on the spot – raw and unfiltered.
First off, studies have found that humans resonate a lot better with visual content than written content. In fact, humans process visual content 60,0000 faster than text. And with the evolution of social media platforms, sharing videos is now easier than it has ever been.
Lastly, live video allows people to come with instant feedback, and feel like they’re part of the conversation in the moment.
With live video, brands can interact with their audience in real-time, and in that way include their audience in the content creation process.
Several brands have understood the immense value of this and started using live video to run Q&As where they respond to their audience’s questions live.
Doing this allows them to engage their audience and build much deeper relationships with them.
This interactivity and sense community is one of the most fundamental reasons why live video has become tremendously popular and is increasing in popularity.
Luckily, it’s not just a few brands that have realized the immense power that lies in live video. In fact, according to Social Media Examiner, 61% of marketers plan to increase their uses of live video, and 69% are eager to learn more about it. Moreover, in 2017, the number of marketers incorporating live video into their strategies increased by 14%.
Those statistics make it quite clear:
If you don’t have any plans on adding live video to your social media marketing strategy, you risk falling behind your competitors.
The universality of live video is also an appealing factor of live video.
There are endless of ways you can incorporate it into your strategy – all based on what objectives you have.
If you want to improve your customer relationships, run Q&As where you make your audience a part of the discussion, and interact with them in real-time.
If you want to help your customers out, why not use it for customer service?
Video as a content form is also one of the social media trends you want to pay attention to.
As you now know, humans resonate a lot better with visual content.
And if I am allowed to be a little cliché, a picture says more than a thousand words, so imagine the power of a video.
It’s clear that social media is becoming more and more focused on video.
In fact, according to a study, 43% of social media users want to see more video content from marketers. What’s more, over 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
YouTube also has over 1 billion hours per day. Lastly, 80% prefer watching a live video from a brand than reading a blog post.
Needless to say, if you haven’t made video content a part of your social media strategy yet, you’re missing out.
Your goal on social media is to provide your audience with the type of content they’re screaming for. And so, you need to stay up-to-date with the latest social media trends to know what your audience is asking for.
If people want to see videos, then that’s what you should post. If people want to see live videos, then that’s what you should create.
After all, live videos on Facebook are watched 3x longer and get 10x more comments than recorded videos, and 82% prefer live video over any other type of social media post, which proves there’s a great interest in video content – both in pre-recorded and live form.
4. Customer service on social media
If you’ve been using social media for a while, you have probably noticed that your customers send all types of messages to you, subject to customer service.
Some might be disgruntled because they haven’t received their product, others might ask how they can order.
In fact, if you go to any brand’s social media account, whether it be Coca-Cola or Mercedes, and look at their comments, you’ll see that a lot of them are subject to customer service.
Moreover, the brands also get plenty of private messages from customers in need customer service, which you don’t see.
People are spending more and more time on social media, and as a result, reaching out to brands through social media becomes a natural choice.
The way people get in touch with brands for customer service is, therefore, changing rapidly, and if you aren’t keeping up, you’ll miss out on tremendous opportunities.
Nobody wants to sit in a phone waiting line for hours, nor do they want to go through all the effort of going into their email, composing an email, sending it, and then waiting hours and hours for a response.
If they’re already online on social media, why not just reach out to the brand that way?
This puts a great importance on you as a brand, because being on social media just for that sole reason is a good reason enough to hop on social media if you aren’t already using it.
Because the reality is, your customers are expecting you to be there and to answer their questions and messages.
And remember that 95.6 percent of consumers are affected by other comments on a brand’s social pages, so if you are on social media but not responding to your customers, you’re knowingly or unknowingly harming your brand.
Moreover, the people are expecting fast responses if they write to you. In fact, 60% of consumers who complain on social media expect a response in less than 60 minutes. And if you don’t, 88% of them are unlikely to buy from you again.
Social media is no longer only a promotional tool or relationship tool. It has become a customer service tool – and you need to treat it like one.
This is a social media trend that will only get bigger and bigger. People are spending more time on social media, and as a result, customer service through phone and email will continuingly decrease.
But this also puts a demand on you as a brand to have the resources needed to manage your social media customer service properly.
People expect fast responses and responses that actually give them the answer to their questions, and that helps them solve their problem.
What’s more, customer service on social media is an opportunity for you as a brand to build deeper relationships with your customers (more on that later), as well as prevent anyone from spreading negativity about your brand on social media.
In other words, through great customer service, you can protect your reputation on social media, as well as increase customer loyalty and retention.
And this isn’t just guesses, this is something that is happening right now, and it is something that brands are starting to paying attention to, after having listened to what their customers want.
In fact, brands like H&M and Zara have created separate customer service accounts on Twitter, solely devoted to customer service questions.
5. Instagram Stories
Instagram released Stories in August 2016, and at its launch, it was accused of being a complete rip-off from Snapchat’s Stories.
But people seem like they couldn’t care less, because Instagram Stories has quickly increased in popularity, and is continuing to do so.
Just months after its launch Instagram Stories reached 100 million daily active users, as a result of the already established user base on Instagram. And within a year, Instagram Stories reached 200 million active users.
Instagram’s launch of Stories has been met with great praises, and brands are coming up with unique ways they can include them in their Instagram strategy.
In fact, roughly half of all businesses on Instagram post at least one Story each month. Stories are a great way for brands to share other types of content than the content that is edited and fine-tuned to perfection. Stories allow brands to share more real, behind the scenes content which helps make it more transparent and engaging, without having to worry about cluttering their feeds, as Stories disappear after 24 hours.
A while after the introduction of Stories, Instagram also introduced polls, which allowed brands to further engage their audience. Since stories also allow accounts with more than 10K followers to include a link with which you can lead your audience to your website, Stories is becoming ever increasingly popular, as the ability to include clickable links on Instagram is fairly limited.
Instagram is constantly changing and improving the Stories feature, and a lot of the things they do is to improve the user experience with brands, making it even more appealing for them, for instance by incorporating Stories statistics.
If you aren’t yet using Stories, now is the time, because its popularity will only increase, and its benefits are many.
6. Augmented Reality
A social media trend we cannot neglect is augmented reality.
While it is not yet here to a huge extent yet, it will sure be in the future.
Who knows, in the future, maybe we’ll spend 20% of our day inside a virtual reality.
But it’s important to know the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality, though.
An example of an augmented reality is Pokémon Go, which gained huge traction as it mixed real life with virtual life.
The augmented reality space is quite wide, and therefore, it’s difficult to know in which direction exactly it will go.
For instance, Snapchat face filters, as well as Instagram Stories, face filters are examples of augmented reality, and those are things that are not “potentially” coming in the future.
They’re here, and they are tremendously popular.
And we see more and more of it coming.
If you want to stay on top of social media trends, the augmented trend is something worth paying attention to.
When social media was new, and something completely new for brands as a marketing tool, marketers saw social media as they saw every other marketing source. In other words, shove as many ads you can in your face and generate amazing markeitng results.
But fortunately, today, more and more brands are starting to realize what social media is all about and start using it accordingly.
In fact, the way you generate amazing marketing results on social media isn’t by shoving as many ads as you can down your audience’s throats.
Because if you do, the unfollow button is just centimeters away, and people won’t hesitate to click it.
Because the truth is, there are billions of other pieces of content that they can consume instead.
So how should you use social media for marketing?
The answer is using it for what it is made for: being social.
Those brands that have identified social media as a relations tool rather than a promotional tool are the ones that succeed.
And this ties back to what I talked about earlier with building strong relationships with your audience.
Never in the history of this earth have marketers had a tool where they can reach and interact with their audience in a matter of seconds.
This is also the reason why the relationship between customers and brands haven’t been that great – except for brands that are physical locations and build their relationships face-to-face.
If you’re going to succeed in the new future social media landscape that is evolving, you need to understand the immense importance and power that lies in communication, interaction, and engagement.
Imagine two competitors:
One has an amazing relationship with the customers, and the other one doesn’t.
Who do you think will succeed best?
As you now know, more people are turning to social media for customer service.
But you also want to have in mind that customer service on social media is not just an opportunity to help your customer solve their problem, but it is also an opportunity for you to build your relationship with them, and make them more loyal to you.
This is also a reason why you cannot afford to ignore your customer service messages.
Because every message you ignore is an opportunity to build and strengthen a relationship gone to waste.
Unfortunately, not all brands realize the importance of this, because, in a 2016 sprout social study, it was found that 89% of social media messages go ignored.
Never before have brands had an amazing of an opportunity to engage with their audience as on social media, and this is also why customers’ relationships with brands are better than ever – with the brands that leverage this, of course.
Continuing on what I talked about earlier about influencer marketing with people being better than ever to identify bullshit and inauthenticity, authenticity will become even more important in the coming years on social media.
People can sniff lies from miles away, and they can tell when you’re not telling what’s true.
Moreover, it has never been easier than today to access information, making it possible to actually see if you are telling the truth.
In fact, authenticity on social media is becoming lesser and lesser of an option. Soon, being authentic or not on social media will translate to surviving or not.
Remember that what social media has done is it has given people a voice.
This makes authentic social media the modern day testimonial.
Because what social media does is it exposes brands, and if you have anything to hide, it will be revealed, and news will spread rapidly.
If someone is having a negative experience, they can just write to you on social media, and people can also hop into the conversation when and if necessary.
Today, people aren’t too interested in the edited and perfected image, but more so, they’re interested in the raw and unfiltered version. They’re interested in what is happening behind the scenes, and who the people who are making the brand they love so much possible are.
This is also the reason why more and more brands are running live streams where they are showing behind the scenes content, its co-workers, as well as showing parts of their production.
People will continue to expect it more and more from brands, and those that provide it to them will succeed.
By being authentic and transparent, you make yourself more approachable and inviting on social media, which further helps you build your relationships.
Many brands are afraid to be authentic because of fear that they’ll love their sense of professionalism, but as more and more social media tools such as stories and Livestream has appeared, brands can be authentic and transparent without cluttering their feed. Plus, the content disappears within 24 hours – if you’re using Instagram or Snapchat stories.