By Nate Gadzhibalaev
Staying ahead of the curve has become really tricky on social media today. A simple social media algorithm change can turn good social media marketing practices to bad and leave you with an obsolete social media strategy in a matter of days.
If you want to stay in the game on social media in 2018, there is no choice but to commit yourself to staying informed about social media marketing trends and adapt.
Here’s our list of the ten most important social media trends that will dominate 2018.
1. No More Engagement Bait
According to Facebook’s December announcement, the company is going to devalue engagement bait content.
Asking your followers to “like if they have experienced this or that” or “share if they have a friend/cat/neighbor who…” has been an easy shortcut to more engagement, but it’s rapidly turning into a practice that can earn you some penalties.
Facebook practically announced a war on lower quality brand content, and expectations are that other platforms will follow soon. The future challenge for brands marketing on social media will be to inspire conversation with more meaningful, creative content.
2. Organic Reach Will Decline
Zuckerberg didn’t wait to give marketers time to breathe in the new possibilities of 2018 before he announced that Facebook’s feed is changing. It will give users’ friends and families greater priority, which will reduce the amount of branded content they see.
This is the final blow to organic reach, which has been facing gradual decline for quite some time now.
3. Social Media Ad Prices Are Rising
Facebook ad rates, which have risen by 30% in the last quarter alone, will continue to rise as businesses are forced to invest more in social media. The year of 2017 registered a 60% increase in social media budget over 2016, as organic reach in some industries dropped to only 2%.
There has never been a more urgent time to start advertising on Facebook — soon it might become a luxury.
4. Micro-Influencer Marketing Works
Less organic reach means that businesses will have to switch their social media marketing entirely to paid advertising in order to get in touch with their audience, but it also means that influencer marketing will soar.
Influencer marketing has been on the rise for what seems like forever. But there is an important distinction: what once referred to contacting celebrities to put in a good word of your product for a rather hefty price has now morphed into several distinct practices.
More and more marketers are turning to smaller scale micro-influencer projects for some peer-to-peer endorsement in the hopes that they will reach more targeted, smaller audiences. And it works, since 49% of people say that they are actually “influenced” by influencers before purchasing.
5. A Greater Focus on Stories
Attention is slowly becoming the most prized commodity on the Internet. Consumers’ attention spans are decreasing as we speak, and the outcome is the rise of ephemeral content.
Social media has tried to capitalize on this phenomena — and as soon as it was clear that the Snapchat story would work, Instagram introduced Instagram Stories. Despite the fact that the functionality is only a year old, it broke records by reaching 300 million users (and enjoying a 220% increase in year-to-year ad spend), leaving Snapchat in the dust.
The two networks, however, are slightly different in the type of content their users share, and the type of audience they cater to. But what’s important beyond the Instagram vs. Snapchat question is the fact that temporary content is definitely here to stay.
6. Using Face Filters and Augmented Reality
This is the year the Black Mirror Waldo episode might easily happen. Social media companies are investing in augmented reality, and some of them are actually rolling out new face filter features.
Face filters are already popular, but predictions are that it will be nothing compared to 2018, when technologies will get even more sophisticated. Face filters and temporary content go hand in hand, and marketers will certainly start to explore this relatively new digital marketing domain in 2018.
7. Live Streaming Is Taking Off
Video marketing is becoming a major branch of SMM, with an emphasis on short videos and live videos. Live videos are becoming the next hot thing, and it’s not merely due to popularity.
While the concept is far from new, video technology is finally making it possible for ordinary people to enjoy this feature, and it is definitely a trend that will continue on in the future.
What’s also interesting is that engagement rates are considerably higher with live content and businesses will start exploring this marketing potential even more in 2018.
8. Generation Z Is a Big Factor
Generation Z will be the first to grow up 100% online, and marketers need to be prepared for it by keeping a close eye on Gen-Z friendly platforms, such as Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube.
By 2020, this emerging community will account for 40% of all consumers in the US, and they will require new marketing tactics. Statistics show that 69% of them think that ads are disruptive, and they are 2 to 3 times more likely to be influenced by social media than discounts or sales when it comes to purchasing decisions.
As more and more of them are entering the workforce, millennial marketing is so last year. Brands that take this into consideration will have a competitive advantage in their respective industries.
9. Conduct Policies Are Getting Stricter
The controversy around the 2016 presidential elections is merely the tip of the iceberg. Social platforms have been battling misconduct and violation of terms for ages, but measures so far have been temporary. That’s about to change in 2018 however, as Facebook and Twitter, for example, have announced they will be tackling the issue with more seriousness than ever; Facebook in particular, as Zuckerberg announced investing in security teams in the following year.
10. Chatbots Are Here
Messaging apps are expected to play a greater role in marketing in 2018 with the introduction of more sophisticated chatbots and completely change the way organizations serve their customers.
Facebook has already launched an open-source research platform for chatbot developers and social media platforms in general are investing more and more into developing chatbot frameworks. In 2018, we’ll start seeing the effects in digital customer service.