The now well-established concerns regarding time spent on social media and its negative effects are part of a growing chorus of voices opposed to the direction of online platforms.
However, despite the consequences of social media addiction, the popularity of social media networks has been growing at a consistent rate this decade. With nearly half the world’s population using social media, there’s no sign of those numbers suddenly dropping.
With usage increasing year-over-year, brands and marketers have been upping their budgets for online marketing to reach lucrative audiences. In influencer marketing, for example, spending on ads has dramatically increased in a short period of time. Estimates suggest ad spend will be between $5-10 billion by next year.
And that’s just one form of social media marketing. Paid social advertising has generated value for brands through many avenues, and marketers are always looking for new ways to leverage online platforms for outreach.
As many of us in the industry know, the landscape of social media changes fast, and strategies for marketing have to constantly keep their fingers on the pulse in order to appeal to key demographics. Marketers work tirelessly to better understand how to keep audiences engaged and which new trends to pay attention to, all in the name of propelling social media marketing campaigns.
So, what does that mean for the future of social media marketing? Below, we dive into the implications of the following social media marketing trends:
We’ve seen first-hand how much this trend has grown over the last few years; from its beginnings to now being a vital tool in the campaigns of the biggest brands in the world. Its effectiveness has made it an indispensable asset for marketers, particularly for campaigns reaching out to coveted Millennial audiences.
Sponsored content is one of the more familiar forms of influencer marketing. The advantages of sponsored content are three-fold:
Influencer tiers are one of the primary reasons for the success of the influencer marketing trend. Unlike traditional advertising, the barrier for entry for brands is relatively low.
Marketers can spend as little or as much as they desire on acquiring the right influencer for their campaign. Whether it’s spending big on a mega-influencer or a more tactical strategy of garnering support among nano-influencers, there’s a route for everyone.
Flexibility is one of the biggest benefits of this social media marketing trend, not to mention the amount of platforms that can be utilized for a campaign, be it Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, or Twitch.
No one wants hassle when they’re trying to engage with a brand, and no brand wants an unnecessarily long conversion tunnel which leads to less-than-desired results.
That’s where social commerce comes in. Marketing funnels that start directly on social media platforms have a high level of success. Social commerce techniques seek to streamline the process and make the buyer’s journey as convenient as possible for the consumer.
A more familiar route may involve a funnel for website visitors, then email opt-ins, click-throughs for subsequent emails, and finally purchases.
Social commerce takes a different approach by getting consumers to the purchase stage as quickly as possible. The most popular methods typically involve a platform like Facebook Messenger or Instagram Shopping.
The journey typically begins with chatbot interaction that enables large reach. These chatbots converse with users on the platform through the same means any other user would, delivering the brand message and starting the sales funnel within the platform itself. The most notable aspect of social commerce on Messenger is the open and click-through rates which are enough to make any marketer’s eyes water.
Instagram Shopping features offer brands and influencers the ability to monetize content. This includes product tags, Shoppable Stories, Shopping tab on business accounts, native payments, Shoppable Explore feed, and Shoppable organic posts.
Whether on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest, brands are running successful social commerce initiatives. Expect to see this trend to become a more common staple in marketing diets in the future.
The Stories function has brought a new dynamic to several social media platforms. The trend of sharing short-form video with friends was made popular with Snapchat. Now, of course, Instagram Stories has usurped Snapchat and is the most used in the world—an estimated 400 million people use Stories every day; more than double Snapchat.
For marketers, this poses some questions. How can brands use Stories to effectively market to users? How do marketers amplify their message to the crucial Gen Z audience?
Brands haven’t been slow getting their hands dirty with Stories, either. 80% of Instagram users follow businesses and a third of the most viewed Stories come from brand accounts. With that kind of usage and reach among audiences, it’s pretty evident the impact that Stories has in brand awareness.
Never one to shy away from market domination, Facebook has also expanded the Stories feature to its other platforms, Messenger and Whatsapp, in order to corner this lucrative part of the market.
Though users have been fairly slow to adopt Facebook Stories, there is no doubt that the social media giant recognizes the importance of the video format trend for communication.
Social media engagement refers to the interaction that users have with a given campaign. This is primarily measured in metrics like comments, likes, subscriptions, views, re-tweets, and shares.
As brands become more engaged with social media campaigns and invest more money into their social budgets, there is a greater desire to craft high engagement from their promotions.
While it is still common for brands to spend big bucks on campaigns, they are also recognizing the value in adopting strategies that have lesser reach but drive better engagement.
As we noted earlier, top brands are more comfortable than ever with small campaigns to promote themselves. In influencer marketing, for example, this means partnering with smaller influencers to achieve great engagement metrics among a niche audience.
We’ve seen these methods adopted by some of the biggest brands in the country, including Dunkin’ Donuts. Other brands, like Gillette, have utilized the flexibility of the market to employ small and large influencers for their campaigns.
Brands realize that bigger is not always better. This has led to a decline in vanity marketing for the sake of high metrics and has instead placed emphasis on scoring high positive engagement as well as the consideration of more variables for measuring performance.
As brands become more adept at targeted campaigns, this social media marketing trend is unlikely to dissipate anytime soon.
Social media marketing automation is a natural supplement to the need for greater social engagement. Automation leverages data to streamline processes and improve overall efficiency and efficacy. While it’s viability has strengthened, marketers tend to believe all aspects of marketing will never be fully automated.
But with mass engagement marketing on the decline and personalized marketing on the rise, brands are focused on providing messages which appeal to relevant, niche audiences, as well as deriving clearer insights on these audiences.
This is where automation and big data comes in.
The use of automation in social commerce is a big driver of modern social media campaigns, and it has several other uses, including:
As social media campaign success continues to be measured by how efficiently it scales business, expect to see automation develop into one of the most prominent social media marketing trends.
As most are aware, transparency and privacy are major issues when it comes to the future of social media marketing.
Traditional advertising in other forms of media, like television, have long-established rules regarding transparency. Social media marketing, however, is new to the game, and there have been teething problems in its relatively short existence.
For one, it’s difficult to enforce rules given the vast amount of social media campaigns across platforms compared to the limited channels and access on TV. While TV advertisers must be thoroughly vetted and pay a hefty fee, virtually anyone can advertise on social media if they’re willing to pay a somewhat nominal fee.
Many users on social media are concerned about online transparency, and social media in particular ranks high. 56% of people want more transparency from businesses online.
This is an especially valid concern given that the primary value in many social media campaigns is trust between the brand and the audience. For marketers, it is important to be ethical in campaigns in order to retain the engagement that makes social media marketing so successful.
Only 9% of social media users are “very confident” that social media companies would protect their data, and in the wake of data scandals which plagued Facebook over the last few years, it’s not all that surprising.
In the influencer marketing world, the FTC has drawn up strict regulations in response to this, but has struggled to effectively enforce them—an overwhelming majority (93%) of social media endorsements violate these guidelines by failing to disclose partnerships.
Respecting privacy and ensuring transparency will continue to be major talking points as the future of social media marketing takes shape.
At its core, social media is all about how you engage with your audience. The emphasis is on “social.”
If brands aren’t catering the message to their audience and engaging with them properly, their campaigns will struggle to gain traction. For brands, this means following the same practices that we swear by in the influencer marketing world—establishing a personal connection between products and consumers.
That requires a deep understanding of the key aspects of social media marketing:
Personalization—so long as it doesn’t overstep the bounds of creepiness—will be instrumental in constructing the future of social media marketing.
Online video is the dominant form of media on the internet. By 2022, video traffic will account for 82% of all internet traffic.
It’s no coincidence that virtually every social media platform is pushing for video to be a significant part of their ecosystem. Most would probably think of YouTube as the epicenter of the online video world, but other networks are vying for a slice of the pie.
Facebook has been doubling down on its video platform and its usage has been gradually increasing. Instagram has been pouring resources into its IGTV platform, with a view to expanding its advertising capabilities into long-form video.
This is also true of live video streaming, which is an ever-popular feature of the biggest social networks. Whether it’s YouTube, Facebook, or Twitch, social media companies are becoming far more comfortable with and adept at marketing through live streaming platforms.
Twitch, in particular, is a leader in this space. Beyond the typical gaming brands, the popularity of advertising on the live streaming platform has tempted non-gaming brands, too.
Video is here to stay, and in many ways, the future of social media marketing rests on the success of it.
Optimizing for mobile is one of the most urgent considerations many brands have to make when launching social media marketing campaigns as consumers’ use of smartphones will continue to account for the majority of their media consumption. By 2020, 3 billion people will have access to a smartphone and an entire generation of people are growing up in a ‘solely mobile’ world.
What does this mean for marketers? It means that creating mobile experiences is not just an aspect of social media marketing—it’s vital.
If the current growth of ad spend continues, mobile will overtake TV to become the biggest medium in the advertising world. This isn’t surprising, as it’s the reason so many social media networks are hedging their bets on mobile video platforms.
For social media marketers, this means tailoring content and campaigns primarily for the mobile user. Brands are growing more confident with mobile social media marketing and using it to further engage their audience—from contests where customers submit videos to effective push notifications.
Ultimately, marketers will prioritize the optimized mobile experience lest they risk falling behind. So, don’t let this social media marketing trend fall off your radar.