Social media has taken the world by storm. Currently, there are over 1.96 billion social media users in the world, and that number is expected to grow to 2.5 billion by 2018. The trends that shape the future of social media drastically affect other elements of the digital world, specifically in terms of marketing.
Today we’re going to look at ten predictions for the future of social media and how they offer exciting new tactics and strategies for today’s digital marketers.
10 Future Social Media Trends Affecting Marketing Today
Whether it’s a new technology or a growing need, social media is setting the precedent for how people will consume content and make purchasing decisions online. In fact, social media is already influences 78% of consumer purchase decisions, and that number is only set to grow.
Let’s take a look at ten predictions for the future of social media, and how they are affecting today’s marketing best practices:
1. Wearable Tech Creates New Experiences
We’ve long known that experiential marketing is an excellent way to engage consumers in a meaningful way. The introduction of wearable tech like virtual reality, augmented reality, and others are showcasing new ways to bring these experiences to everyone.
This became incredibly evident when Facebook purchased virtual reality headset creator, Oculus Rift, in 2014. They didn’t make this decision lightly either, they spent a cool $2 billion in this acquisition, showing a marked investment into this new type of technology.
At a surface level, wearable like these headsets can bring your experience to anyone, anywhere. That alone is an exciting thought, but wearable tech also encompasses things that can track data like heart rate, blood pressure, and plenty more.
Consider these ways that wearable tech is set to change the marketing landscape:
- Today many people own at least one wearable device, but by 2020 the average consumer will own eight.
- Wearable tech will allow marketers to collection massive amounts of data for the purpose of providing context and personalized experiences.
- When used correctly, wearable tech provides an additional level of engagement and a more enriching experience overall.
- Virtual reality can be used to transport customers to live events, regardless of their location.
2. Social Media “Buy” Buttons Become Commonplace
Since social media is so influential, it makes sense that “buy” buttons would be a natural addition to the experience. Despite this, buy buttons haven’t taken off for retailers, so what’s the problem? As it stands, these buttons aren’t adding anything to the experience.
To this end, buy buttons are simply being used to eliminate the step needed to visit the website and make a purchase, but they hold so much more potential than that. Yes, it’s important that we keep the experience in one place to keep the user’s attention, but these buy buttons should be part of a greater whole.
As companies begin to understand this, we’re going to see these buttons become a huge priority in terms of conversion optimization. Social media ads with buy buttons will look less like advertisements and more like landing pages that incorporate the same design elements used when making a website. They will provide some kind of value to the reader and utilize design elements that convince them to convert.
Here’s the major takeaway:
Start thinking about “buy” buttons as CTAs. How can we, as marketers, design social media posts that act like mini-landing pages?
The buy button isn’t going anywhere, it simply requires an evolution.
3. Social Media Crosses Into The Workplace
For years, businesses and institutions have done everything they can to stop people from using social media in the workplace, but this type of thinking has done a complete 180. Social media is now an integral part of the workplace, thanks to emerging tools:
- Slack – this powerful little tool allows workers and businesses to collaborate and share information via text, gifs, images, and anything else. This instant connection and collaboration allows them to quickly and easily communicate without the need for internal emails.
- Facebook for Work – While still relatively new, Facebook for Work provides a streamlined version of the platform that maintains all of the powerful connection features that businesses and professionals can use for collaboration purposes.
Here’s what you need to know:
Social media is powerful as a means of connecting people. These emerging tools can take that same connectedness and use it for a more productive workplace going forward.
4. All-Inclusive Platforms
Social media platforms are constantly expanding beyond what they were originally intended to do. Case and point: Facebook now has its own search algorithm. While it doesn’t quite hit Google’s 3.5 billion searches each day, it comes in at a respectable 1.5 billion on its own.
This has created a need for more solutions within the platform. A search engine is a great start because it removes the need for people to leave the site to find something. Combine this the Messenger app, and it’s easy to see how Facebook is trying to solve all of your problems with their solutions.
This points to a future where social media does a whole lot more than allow you to connect with other people.
Here’s what you should be doing:
Keep your ear to the ground and look for new ways to do more on social media. Familiarize yourself with new messenger apps and features emerging on the platform. Consider how these innovations can further streamline your efforts on social media.
5. Niche-Focused Platforms Grow Immensely
Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram have a very broad appeal. There are a variety of people and interests on these platforms, which can make it hard to connect with a specific niche or audience.
Enter niche platforms. These currently exist in a variety of forms, and marketers should absolutely use them for laser-focused targeting. These platforms don’t spend a lot of time in the limelight, but as mainstream platforms continue to diversify, it makes sense that these type of focused networks will have a higher appeal.
Why you should care:
Targeting tools are prevalent on all of today’s platforms, but why try to reach dog lovers when you can use a platform like Dogster to interact with them directly? These platforms already provide a focused network for users and marketers, and the need for them will continue to grow.
6. The Death of Organic Reach
In the interest of tweaking a user’s Facebook feed, the platform has made it nigh impossible to organically reach your users. Research has shown that a page with 500,000 likes could have an organic reach as low as 2%.
Facebook’s official stance is that people are producing too much content and they have to be extremely picky with what they place at the top of a user’s feed to ensure it’s most relevant to them.
These days, a “like” isn’t enough to guarantee your content will appear on a user’s page. Facebook has all but completely transformed into a paid marketing platform. As time goes on, this will become even more evident.
What you should do:
Take the wins you can get with organic reach, but start finding ways to budget for boosting posts and performing targeted ad campaigns on Facebook. If you don’t want to pay for reach, then you should consider using a different platform.
7. Live Streaming Video Becomes Standard
Video has long been emerging on social media, but recently there has been a huge push for live streaming on today’s platforms. With options like Meerkat, Periscope, and now Facebook Live, anyone can start streaming online whenever they want.
What’s in it for marketers?
Live content is not only popular, it’s genuine. You can script out a day at the office or a live event. The interactions in these instances are as genuine as it gets. Marketers can use live video to showcase a live look behind-the-scenes and ultimately support a culture of brand storytelling now and going forward.
8. Dedicated Analytics Platforms
The analytics we have available to us on social media has been sparse, but that’s quickly changing. With the introduction of the Twitter dashboard, we’re seeing deep analytical tools integrating themselves into the standard function of today’s social media platforms.
With tools that allow you to create a custom feed, schedule tweets, and cover popular subjects, this dashboard tool is only the beginning.
Are you ready?
As part of the all-inclusive approach many platforms will take, you can expect analytics to become more accessible and tailored to each platform. Use these whenever possible to get more relevant data quickly.
9. Machine Learning Increases Efficiency
Machine learning is the process of finding patterns and making predictions based on data gathered by software. There are a variety of machine learning programs, but ultimately they are all focused on increasing efficiency by making calculated predictions and streamlining work.
It certainly sounds like something out of science fiction, but this emerging technology represents a massive industry and more importantly a means of increasing productivity by making informed decisions based on real data and analysis.
The next step:
Learn more about machine learning and the terminology behind machine learning and look for ways to incorporate it into your social media marketing.
10. Instant Content Takes Over
As of 2016, Facebook has made instant articles available to all publishers, and this represents a new wave of content that is easily accessible while still being interactive and user-friendly. Since speed and accessibility are such a focus. These types of articles will meet and exceed that need.
This type of content also offers deeper analytics and advertising options. This type of content is already spreading to Google and Twitter so we can expect that it will become the new standard in the near future.
How to approach this:
Instant content should become part of your current content efforts and as time goes on, devoting more time to understanding its intricacies and what it offers will pay off immensely.
The future of social media is always in flux, but these predictions can help us as marketers understand where social media is going and how we can prepare for these changes now. How do you prepare for upcoming changes in social media? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author: Christopher Bennett is a social media marketer with over a decade of experience. He’s constantly looking to the future so he can make better decisions today.