For social marketers, 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year. No one can afford to stand still in a competitive market, and as a result we are seeing many platforms come out with new features and changes. As more brands adopt these new platforms and features, your social media strategy should evolve to be there too.
As we look ahead, here are 4 social media trends to consider incorporating into your social strategy going forward.
1. Live Streaming Video
Live streaming video is taking over our social media feeds. We knew video was going to be a major opportunity for brands on social media, and it still is huge. What we have now is live streaming video campaigns by major brands to individuals, such as Coca-Cola and Deepak Chopra. Even if you are not already on one of these live streaming platforms, chances are you’ve heard them referenced in channels you are on.
Facebook rolled out the live streaming video feature to everyone recently. Periscope is all live streaming, whereas Snapchat provides recorded video updates for up to 24 hours. Where social media offers communication between brands and customers, live streaming video goes one step further by offering real-time engagement, authenticity and unedited footage. One can repurpose the live stream by uploading it to one of the more popular video sharing websites, such as YouTube or Vimeo, as well as use it for a blogpost. To get started, brands and businesses can use these live streaming platforms with any one of the following:
- Behind-the-scenes footage of a tour of your office
- Live interviews
- Product demonstrations
- Live surveys
Some statistics: Periscope has over 40 years worth of live streaming video being watched every day and Facebook just released a ten year projection of services, which include virtual reality and 3D 360-degree video for their live streaming services. These platforms are gaining traction as business tools; however, consideration must be taken to determine which live streaming service is right for a particular brand.
2. Social Media & SEO
YouTube, Facebook and Twitter can now be optimized for search, and that means your most recent posts are showing up on Google’s results page. Social media is becoming increasingly important for a brand’s SEO efforts. While social doesn’t directly influence your search ranking, it does play a role when your audience shares your content and sends more people to you website. It remains very important to continue to create and share quality content on a regular basis. Keep an eye out for even more platforms showing up on the Google search results page in 2016. Keywords and hashtag best practices are as important as ever, as the lines between social and the web continue to blur.
3. Real-Time Engagement
In addition to showing up on live streaming video, it’s important to respond in real-time on each of the channels. This may sound like a no brainer, but in 2016, there is still an opportunity for brands to create ideal customer experiences. The expectation of consumers is high when it comes to real-time response; in 2015, it is reported brands still aren’t responding within 72 hours. Make sure to keep the conversation going both ways and in a timely manner, as one of your competitors could seize the opportunity and respond instead.
4. Social Media Advertising
As marketers spend more and more effort on their social media marketing, they are turning those hours into sales with social commerce. According to Social Media Examiner, sales that could be tracked to social media in the US reached $3.3 billion in 2014. More recently, social is credited with influencing shoppers’ buying decisions over brand websites. The latest with Facebook ads is the 360-degree video, allowing a user to control the entire view into a shop, office etc. This feature is now open to all Facebook users, rather than just select brands. And where once a buyable pin on Pinterest was the next big thing, direct action to purchase through social is becoming the norm. Instagram has rolled out a feature button on its ads to “Shop Now” or “Install Now”. While advertising on social media may not be the right move for every brand, it is important to keep up with how these platforms are evolving.
The competition for visibility has never been stronger. It is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out on social media. The nature of social media demands that marketers and brands take risks on new platforms in order to learn, and often, they are being rewarded in the process. Sharing content on new platforms can be a necessary step in creating new and interesting brand experiences. The reward of adopting early is worth the risk for two reasons: it’s not as crowded with every other company vying for attention and brands discover what works and what doesn’t ahead of any competition. With this in mind, there is some merit to not being the first on a new platform. It’s important to determine that a new channel is where your customers are first.