2017 was quite the year for social media. Facebook’s copycat approach ended up being quite successful in luring Snapchat users onto Instagram via Instagram Stories. The President of the United States tweeted policy within 140 characters. Apple and Google announced their push into better-augmented reality content.
The year has been filled with a lot of exciting news about social media, and it has laid the foundation for all the great things we’ve come to expect from this channel.
Below, we list a few trends that online retailers have to watch out for; some of these you may have heard before, but in 2018 you are going to witness these concepts in action.
Would your business lead the way on Social Media? Read on to find out what exciting things you can integrate into your social media strategy in 2018.
1. Rise in Social Advertising Costs
Gone are the glory days where just a social media presence assured an increase in traffic to your website. Organic reach and conversions have consistently reduced over the years, and the trend is going to continue in 2018. With social media platforms looking for ways to monetize their audience, marketers relying on the digital medium will have to carve out a social media budget for their upcoming campaigns and reach their intended audiences. Organic traffic alone will not do.
Also, as more and more companies venture into social media marketing, having a budget is essential. For instance, advertising spending on Facebook increased by 74% in 2017, while the average cost of digital ads across all popular platforms increased by 12%.
If you do not already have a plan for social media advertising or increasing your social media budget, then consider yourself lagging behind your competition.
2. Lights, Camera, Action — Video Takes Center Stage
Video killed the radio star, and on social media, videos are massacring photos and videos when it comes to views, shares, and overall engagement. And it’s not a small margin. Videos outperform text and photos by 1200%. Moreover, our brains process visual information better. Research has shown that people retain 80% of what they see, 20% of what they read, and just 10% of what they hear.
Science backs you up as well as market trends. Online retailers can use the power of video on social media to showcase unboxing videos, product promotional videos, How-to vlogs, live streaming of product launches, and so much more. 2018 is the year when e-commerce goes all in on video content.
3. Influencer Marketing Evolves
The moment you inquire about what an online retailer should do in social media, you’re flooded with influencer marketing ideas. While it is true that influencers drive a lot of traffic, the purpose they serve in your sales funnel has changed.
Due to the massive proliferation of social media influencers in the past few years, these wizards of social media have elevated themselves to the awareness end of the sales funnel. What this means is that if you need your brand to be known by potential customers, it’s a good bet to have an influencer on-board.
But what about brand advocacy? Audiences know that their favorite influencers have sponsored content on their channels, and the same influencers might even engage in a campaign with your competition. So how do you differentiate yourself in the competitive influencer space?
The answer lies in developing micro-influencers. These are your everyday audiences that are keen on trying out your product along with your competitors. Their circle of influence lies with their friends and family who may not be followers of the influencers you enroll.
In 2018, online retailers will actively encourage their audiences to review and showcase the products they buy. And smart ones will tie in loyalty programs to encourage social media mentions and shares.
4. All Aboard the Ephemeral Content Express
Facebook through Instagram emulated the popular Snapchat feature of short-lived videos and images that followers can view and engage with for 24 hours. For the past two years, brands and publishers have experimented with short-lived content to great success. The international fashion brand Cosmopolitan received significant traffic on their Snapchat Discover page with around 19 million average unique visitors per month.
Seeing such a huge impact of this format, Instagram got onto the gravy train of ephemeral content with Instagram Stories, and within six months it surpassed Snapchat in daily active users.
Fig: Instagram ephemeral content beats Snapchat in six months. Ref: https://www.statista.com/chart/9086/daily-active-users-instagram-stories-snapchat/
In 2018, the stage is set for ephemeral content to be the “king” in social media strategic plans. These short-lived posts help users develop a sense of excitement and hype for a brand. Popular webcomic artists have used this channel to preview upcoming or work-in-progress projects and develop a buzz before the big unveil.
Fashion etailers can take a cue from webcomic artists and showcase behind-the-scenes footage of photo shoots, style tips from models and brand ambassadors, offer promotions, and so much more.
5. Convergence of Digital and Physical Draws Nearer
Augmented reality and virtual reality is not a new concept. Tech companies are constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and with each breakthrough brings more excitement and buzz.
AR made its debut a year back with Pokemon Go and the implementation of Snapchat filters. While the buzz for Pokemon Go fizzled away, Snapchat filters have been a phenomenon that has made every marketer curious. These filters are the primary reason for users engaging and spending time on Snapchat. With a proven concept in place, everyone has got on the AR bandwagon, whether it is Facebook, Google, and even Apple.
Snapchat is rumored to create filters that allow users to click a selfie with a celebrity, who will be projected via augmented reality. Be on the lookout for brands that take this idea forward and project their products directly into the homes of customers.
Augmented reality is perfect for furniture and home décor brands to replicate an in-store feel but at the homes of their audience. It also helps prospects gauge how a product might look in their house or whether it goes well with their current décor.
6. Gen Z - Digital to the Core
The year 2018 will be the year when Gen-Z or those born after 1998 will join the workforce and start to have a considerable influence on marketing demographics. This will be the first generation that is incapable of remembering a time without the internet.
These digital natives who are born with a device in hand spend a lot of time online, more than any preceding generation. Accustomed to online shopping, these are thrifty deal-hunters for whom word-of-mouth and what’s cool matters greatly.
7. Messengers are the New Social Media
Messaging services are largely ignored when it comes to marketers, although there are some savvy marketers who employ strategies to tap audiences actively spending time on messengers. With the rise in AI and Chatbots, the door is open for effective marketing practices for the messaging space.
It is estimated that there are around 12,000 bots currently active on Facebook Messenger delivering customer service to personalized promotional services. And the number is going to increase in 2018 with conservative estimates stating that around 30% of all online conversations will be with Chatbots.
Chatbots and AI is an area actively explored by e-commerce retailers as it provides an opportunity to efficiently provide 24/7 customer care without depending on humans on a rotating shift.
Just as IVR (Interactive Voice Response) replaced customer-care representatives at call centers, Chatbots will replace online customer service personnel. How effective and efficient will Chatbots be will be guided by advancements in Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, and Natural Language Generation.
There much to be excited about as 2017 draws to a close. While every marketing guru will give their two cents on predictions and projections, one thing is for certain — Social Media is evolving and is the new King. The usurper who will dethrone TV and Print in advertising spend.
If you’re not active on social media, you can learn how you can maximize sales with effective social media planning here.
Lastly, if you need help with your social media strategy in 2018? Get in touch with our team of experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.