Social media technology is evolving faster than ever. There are more and more platforms available, and their usage is expanding into new, uncharted territories. It seems as though marketers just get the hang of using one platform, or its features, before they change yet again.
Looking back at some of the more recent developments, as well as 2016 predictions, can help savvy marketers cut through the noise and stay up to date on what new social media trends will truly help brands succeed.
To help things along, below are five predictions for social media trends in 2017.
1. Expiring Content
While this goes against most marketers’ instincts, allowing content to expire produces a sense of urgency. Snapchat was able to burst onto the scene with that very unique concept, and has been successful enough to turn down Facebook’s $3 billion buyout offer. Since then, other platforms have taken note, most recently Instagram with its Instagram Stories feature.
By encouraging users to act faster, brands can potentially take advantage of this trend in new and unexpected ways. Many have begun working with Snapchat campaigns, but as competitive platforms arise and new features develop, brands and marketing experts should experiment to find which variety of expiring content works best to motivate their audience.
2. Live Video
Last year, Facebook more than doubled its daily video views to 8 billion, reportedly overtaking YouTube. In addition, Facebook launched a live streaming video service, Facebook Live, to compete with Twitter’s Periscope. YouTube also remains a strong competitor, now with high-definition 4K live streaming capabilities.
These go beyond the edited and produced videos many users now watch, to live, raw footage. Video already shows higher engagement than many other channels, so live video makes sense as the next iteration. Smart marketers should be keeping an eye on this trend for potential opportunities as it develops. For example, live video around an in-store event will allow brands to showcase their best products in real time.
3. Virtual and Augmented Reality
Seeing virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) on this list is likely no surprise. It’s already happening. Take, for example, the Pokemon Go craze earlier this year. Users latched onto it in massive numbers, showing the way AR can be used and the appeal it can have. Industry leaders have been heralding the arrival of VR for years, and yet it hasn’t quite taken root. So what makes 2017 different? Most are still waiting to see the impact Facebook’s acquisition of VR technology leader Oculus will have on the industry.
Beyond gaming, the practical applications of VR and AR are still a little amorphous for many brands. However, the opportunity for engagement with VR and AR, particularly within physical stores, will likely be explored. Because of the relative newness, there may not be extreme movement in VR or AR, but brands will certainly begin to experiment with its usage – and it is certainly one to keep an eye on in 2017.
4. Mobile First
Mobile is not new. Social platforms optimizing for mobile certainly isn’t new either, but even so it’s not an area to be ignored. This year, mobile usage overtook desktop traffic. Mobile will continue to be valued, and that value will continue to grow even more rapidly.
It’s more important than ever for brands to look to mobile as not just an add-on, but as a foundational aspect of their business’ marketing strategy.
5. Automation Goes Mainstream
Digital multimedia and social platforms have transformed how marketers must behave and message their target audiences. Managing that transformation with a whiteboard, or even a team of human workers, is inefficient and certainly not scalable.
Marketing automation software companies are growing, and will continue to grow, as an essential tool for marketing experts. They are growing smarter, providing more data, and allowing marketers to do more with that data, creating better experiences for customers. And that, as expected, can lead to greater sales.
As marketers look to 2017, social media trends may ebb and flow in importance, but can be instrumental to a brand’s success. It will take experimenting, pivoting, and constant learning to get it right, but it is possible. So, here’s to the future and the technology it brings!
To see how social media trends have evolved from the previous year, check out our 2016 social media predictions.