We’re now halfway through 2018 (if you can believe it)! This year has already seen plenty of social media trends and moments, from lighthearted exchanges of brands trolling each other to the powerful and important #TimesUp movement. Social media platforms and tools are constantly changing, and PR professionals need to be ready and willing to adapt to those changes in order to execute successful campaigns. We’re looking at some of the trends that have already shaped the social media industry in 2018, and which ones to watch for the rest of the year.
Expansion of Video
Video has always been one of the most useful tools on social media. We expect to see more mobile-ready video content that’s optimized to fit your smartphone’s screen and capture your attention as you’re scrolling through your social media apps. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram also now have integrated live streaming capabilities, so it’s easier than ever for channels and brands to post live videos. These videos are becoming more interface-friendly and interactive, with the most successful live videos capturing viewers within the first ten seconds. From product demos to Q&As to announcements at events, there are many opportunities for brands to get creative with live videos on social media. When done correctly, live stream campaigns work well with audiences due to their immediacy and intimacy. Check out more tips on how to host a successful live stream here!
The Reign of Influencers
There’s a new security-guarded mural in LA that only allows influencers and verifieds to take pics in front of it. pic.twitter.com/PDlLJ9C0DI
— justin caffier (@JustinCaffier) June 25, 2018
It’s an influencer’s world and we’re all just living in it. Over the past few years, social media influencers have proved to be a great source for brands to increase visibility and engagement on social channels – and we only expect that trend to grow during the rest of 2018. A recent study in 2017 found that Instagram was the top social platform for 92% of influencers. However, we expect that influencers will find new ways to utilize campaigns across more platforms (especially with Snapchat’s latest update designed to benefit influencers). We anticipate that brands will continue to invest in influencer marketing campaigns, and for those influencers to be more transparent in their partnerships.
Still don’t know exactly what a social media influencer is or what they do? Click here to read our crash course!
Organic vs. Sponsored Posts
While it would be great for an influencer with a massive following to organically endorse your brand, it unfortunately doesn’t work that way. Sponsored posts and campaigns have been on social media for some time now, and it’s clear that they aren’t going anywhere in 2018. Sponsored campaigns are a great way to increase visibility, but not all users are fans of seeing sponsored posts on their feeds. However, some platforms, such as Instagram, are taking steps to ensure followers are aware whether a post is organic or sponsored. Below an individual’s handle, you’ll now see whether a post is sponsored, and many are using hashtags such as #Ad or #Sponsored to be as transparent as possible with audiences. Social media apps are also rolling out new tools to enhance influencer campaigns. For example, Instagram recently added a Shopping feature that makes it easier than ever to click on a product in a post or story and be redirected to the product page.
In the era of fake news and distrust in the media (now at an all-time low), we expect to see social media platforms take measures to be as honest as possible when it comes to organic vs. sponsored posts.
From face filters to Animojis, augmented reality has proven to be a major player on social media apps by driving advertising campaigns. Brands are already able to create limited time face filters on Snapchat to promote an event or product, and we expect to see that trend spread over to Instagram and Facebook as they develop their own Stories features. AR brings the phrase “seeing is believing” to life by providing a digital look at a product before a customer even buys it. Companies such as L’Oreal are taking advantage of AR with a Facebook Messenger bot that allow users to try out their makeup before actually buying the product. With Apple’s recent launch of Memojis at their WWDC Conference, we expect to see AR features popping up on all your social channels soon.
With more people using social media than ever before, there are more likes, comments and shares happening every day. While this allows for content to easily go viral, it may also take away from the quality of that content. Though your brand wants as many eyes on your social posts as possible to increase exposure, it’s important to remember your audience. Just because a post goes viral doesn’t mean it’s reaching your target audiences and achieving your goals. Want to learn more about viral content? Check out our guide here!
What social media trends do you expect to see play out throughout the rest of 2018? Let us know in the comments below, or by tweeting us @BIGfishPR!