Trends to Follow
It feels like a revolutionary time for social media marketing. Or, maybe it’s just the new year. Either way, our reflections on the industry throughout 2016 have us convinced that the breakneck speed of social media evolution and innovation has a stunning effect on how we live, work and spend our money.
After sorting through all that changed and all that happened in 2016, our team identified four trends that we’ll be leveraging as we embark on this new year.
1. Your Photos Are No Longer Enough
From videos to gifs, the more social media channels progressed, the more inventive users got when creating content. In years (even months) past, all it took to pause a scrolling thumb was a visually compelling image paired with a witty line of copy or two. This formula successfully helped our clients gain traction across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and became the basis of many brands’ social content calendar strategies. In 2016, we entered a new and more multidimensional era. An era of stickers, augmented reality, co-creation, text overlays and above all else – accessible video. As video content is now created and published faster and more easily than ever, a moving image is the de facto way to grab attention. Some brands have even opted for fully functioning, in-app video games in place of a “standard” video. In fact, Gatorade recently implemented a video game that could be played within Snapchat for U.S. Open, and KFC will be the first to implement a video game on Instagram, a football challenge just in time for the Super Bowl.
2. Everything is (and should be) "LIVE"
As social media continues to mirror the advancements made in the way we communicate, FaceTime being a prime example, users expect to have access to information the moment it is available. The addition of live video in social media not only means immediate information, but also immediate responses. In the same way FaceTiming with someone or participating in a group message makes one feel much more involved and likely to reply faster, users watching live content may feel the same, and compelled to share their feelings. For example: A rant which would previously have gotten you kicked out of family dinner now results in hundreds of thousands of online engagements. Beyond live streaming becoming nearly ubiquitous, community management examples set by consumer demand thrust brands into the spotlight – ready or not. Brands learned what to do when Kohl’s reacted swiftly to Chewbacca Mom, and learned what not to do when Red Lobster’s long-awaited response to Queen Bey fell flat.
3. The Line Between Tech and Media Companies has Blurred
We’re familiar with the adverse consequences digital and mobile adoption have had on traditional publishers, but few could have forecasted that ethical concerns once reserved for the fourth estate would eventually reflect back upon Facebook and Twitter. A heated election year paired with ad and user growth that exceeded expectations have cast ethical dilemmas onto social media companies, which are increasingly being held responsible for offering safe and transparent digital hubs for both brands and users. These ethical concerns call for both accountability and innovation, which we’re seeing come to life in recent months’ decisions by top players, such as Twitter’s early 2017 interest in recruiting employees with editorial experience, Facebook’s anonymous self-harm reporting and Instagram’s feature allowing users to disable comments on certain posts.
4. Social Ad Measurement Calls for Third-Party Verification
Facebook and Google together account for 76 percent of online ad spend, and that number is only going to increase in 2017, according to KPBC. With one in five mobile minutes spent on Facebook or Instagram, social advertising is no longer a risky gamble. However, several 2016 measurement scandals from top social platforms call for closer scrutiny of campaign reporting. The industry is ready to cast off vanity metrics for good, yet Facebook is still burdened by consistent analytic mishaps, such as December’s engagement metric error admissions. Since social advertising strategies are only expected to grow, look for the industry to heighten expectations for further third-party endorsement, such as Nielsen’s verified Facebook TRP ads.
We predict these four trends will cause a rapid ripple effect throughout the industry, not only due to swift user growth and increasing ad budgets, but also given the tendency of the larger platforms to acquire smaller specialty players at an ever-increasing clip. We’re eager to see what this media-rich, live, transparent and measurable year ahead will bring to our clients and partners. For more about how your brand can incorporate these social trends into your 2017 marketing approach, stay tuned to the Mindstream Blog for Part 2 of the series.